Top 10 3D Printing Challenges: How to Overcome Them

3D Printing

The advantages of 3D printing services far outweigh the challenges implicit in additive manufacturing. But the issues still need to be tackled. We discuss how.

3D print in India has a promising future. Albeit there are some challenges being discovered as more and more companies continue to integrate online 3D printing services into manufacturing.

1. Budget

Challenge: Manufacturers desire quality. Quality costs money. The requirements of 3D printing can prove costly to set up, including hardware, software, materials, and so on. This can prove to be the first major hurdle to the large-scale adoption of additive manufacturing.

Solution: Companies, prior to deciding whether they want to invest in 3D printing Pune, should first thoroughly develop a business strategy that warrants the need for 3D printing. Since 3D print technologies are long-term investments, companies should not jump the gun because everyone else is doing it as well!

2. 3D Print Materials

Challenge: The increased demand for rapid prototyping in the manufacturing sector is putting a strain on the material development of 3D printing solutions.

Solution: 3D print materials can be developed faster with a ‘custom-engineered’ approach that allows manufacturers to access powders and filaments of their liking. Effectively, the performance of parts and their requirements will be in complete sync.

3. In-House Facilities

Challenge: The fast pace of development of 3D printing technologies has put production houses in a fix as to how to manage the personnel required to conduct the processes efficiently. Finding the right people for the job has proved to be a challenge. Although companies do have the option of outsourcing their requirements to a 3D printing service provider, it is also desirable to cultivate in-house resources.

Solution: Existing personnel can be roped in and trained in skills development and the necessary technical expertise to carry out AM functions. This can also motivate your team, thereby increasing productivity and innovation.

4. Speed of 3D Printing

Challenge: Speed with regards to concept and design, prototyping, and production itself, can make a world of difference as consumers seek instant solutions. Particularly, for mass production in industries such as automobiles and consumer items, certain 3D print processes are still catching up with the traditional equipment.

Solution: There have been some notable improvements in the speed of production, especially in the domain of metal 3D printing. Since 3D printing can reduce overall time and costs of testing and marketing a product by drastically reducing the initial investments in tooling and other hardware, organizations are likely to invest in it further.

5. Post-processing 

Challenge: 3D printed parts undergo some form of post-processing in order to improve their properties, accuracy, and even overall look. This may act as a barrier in end-part manufacturing using 3D printing, although not so much in prototyping.

Solution: Manufacturers can explore solutions in robotics as a means to eliminate manual post-processing. Extensive automation can facilitate sustained production on a high volume.

6. Quality Consistencies

Challenge: Additive manufacturing is still relatively new when compared to traditional manufacturing processes. It is still in the process of being understood. This can present unforeseen challenges during production, leading to pronounced variations in the quality of end parts, including surface finishes, geometries, mechanical properties, and so on.

Solution: Manufacturers can collaborate with testing laboratories to overcome this issue. for those with sufficient funding, they can even develop in-house expertise. The closed-loop control system can render manufacturers with greater control of the build process, thereby facilitating consistent quality aspects in end parts.

7. Standardization Protocols

Challenge: The AM industry has only just begun the development of production and industry-wide standards.

Solution: Some of the most trusted standardization organizations have dedicated committees to develop AM standards, some of which have already been approved. The development of such standards can also be achieved through greater collaborations within the industry.

8. Knowledge and Expertise

Challenge: As already mentioned, knowledge and expertise are still in its developmental phase for 3D printing. The knowledge gap may prevent businesses to adopt 3D printing as a production solution.

Solution: Many companies are investing online and on-site courses to provide their personnel with the necessary skills and knowledge for using 3D print applications.

9. Digital Infrastructure

Challenge: The right digital infrastructure is required for the successful application of 3D print in manufacturing. Some companies may use IT solutions that were originally developed for traditional manufacturing that might be inappropriate for 3D printing. 

Solution: Workflow management software specific to 3D printing is being developed to overcome this challenge.

10. Capital Investments

Challenge: This is probably the biggest barrier to the large-scale application of additive manufacturing that includes all the facets discussed in the preceding paragraphs. The required capital may prove to be too much for a company to consider it feasible.

Solution: Many companies are making hardware widely accessible. Industrial 3D printing, using polymers, costs much less and can be seamlessly integrated into the manufacturing. It is expected that similar developments will soon come about in the case of metal 3D printing.

Throwing Caution to the Wind

3D printing services have had visible benefits for many companies in terms of cost and time-saving capabilities. Others are waiting for the resolution of challenges outlined above before they are ready to use the 3D print technology.

Author Bio: 3D Spectra Technologies LLP, is a Pune based 3d printing company. The company is offering 3d printing services for health, education, aerospace, defense, manufacturing industries by offering high-quality materials and using advanced technology. Visit here for more information.