We all know 3D printing is big business, used by thousands of firms all around the world for prototyping and even small volume production occasionally. Until now, it’s adoption in mass production environments in industries has been sparse.
The adoption of 3D printing in mainstream industry has been subdued. A lack of material viability being one of the main factors, photo polymers are typically weak and brittle in comparison to the materials available for injection molding. The fact that 3D printing doesn’t offer the same economies of scale as injection molding has also put off a lot of mainstream plastics manufactures. Large runs of objects are simply too expensive to produce right now due to high filament prices. Of course both the price of filament and the range of materials available will improve as the industry matures, this is when I believe 3D printing will have very interesting implications for your average plastics company. The deal between Stratasys and Airbus in clear vote of confidence in the 3D printing industry, Airbus being one of the biggest Commercial aircraft manufactures in the world
Aerospace engineering is one of the most regulation bound industries in the world, having to adhere to strict quality, margin and safety regulation; and for good reason. Travelers don’t tend to fancy travelling in flying death ships. Airbus and Stratasys’ deal is confined to a single material, the Ultem 9058 Resin. The material is flame, smoke, and toxicity regulation compliant for aircraft interior applications. As time moves on, more additive manufacturing materials will become aerospace use approved,
This doesn’t mean that just any 3D printing bureau is going to be able to manufacture parts for aerospace companies now though. At the minute, Stratasys is one of the biggest 3D printing firms in the world. As “big industry” cottons on to the potential of 3D printing, it’s a only a matter of time before 3D printing become widely used in high risk industries.