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4 Will 3D printing be the demise of plastic injection molding?

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It goes without saying that 3D printing is a very precise manufacturing process. Even a basic 3D printer is an excellent prototyping and design tool that can easily be used in a startup or SME. It is hardly surprising that its popularity is increasing every year. However, 3D printing technology is still very little used to produce marketable products. Of course, there are wonderful small-scale production initiatives while several large companies have delegated production to a fleet of 3D printers. Nevertheless, the vast majority of plastic objects is still produced using conventional production methods, including plastic injection molding machines.


Why? Well, as most experts will tell you because 3D printing technology is too expensive to compete with conventional production methods. But is this really the case? The Type A Machines Company based in California has explored the possibility of 3D printing of parts in large series and comes to share a white paper explaining that their printers are theoretically capable of being more profitable than injection molding. This does not mean that your 3D printer in your office is able to compete with the big players in plastic injection, as these promising results are achieved in a very specific context.


Type A Machines used a "Farm of 3D Printers" to get these results. It is a workshop of 20 to 30 3D printers working in parallel to produce plastic parts in series (up to 10,000 pieces).

Under these conditions, these printers proved to be able to outperforminjection production. As they say, this could lead to a new era for the production of plastic parts, even if they admit that there are still problems to be solved


So far, there have been some significant advancements in the application of the 3D printers. The demand for this technology is gradually increasing particularly for those who are interested in the products and the capabilities and designers. With its elementary mode of operation, it offers a better alternative in the design technology. With the ease of operation, it means consumers can now construct their own products using the home printers. This is a big advantage particularly to the medical community who have started to explore the 3D printing option. For example, the 3D teeth renderings for implants and other medical facilities makes the profession a lot easier since a wide variety of items can actually be produced. Though this means is still a bit limited, there is a significant slash in the production time as well as the cost incurred from outsourcing.

3D printing technology is a sector that is still in full development, with new innovations and optimizations every month. This should give 3D printing an even bigger advantage in the years to come.

To return to the original question, the answer is, as this study suggests, yes, depending on the case. Although traditional production methods involving the plastic injection molding machine are still the best choice for mass production, 3D printers are perfectly capable of competing with or even surpassing them for small and very small runs.


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