3D Printing: When and Where Does It Make Sense?

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Abstract: Twenty years ago, when Captain Jean-Luc Picard ordered: "Tea, Earl Grey, hot" it emerged in a pot from the Star Trek replicator, a machine which made everything and anything from seemingly nothing. An image was created which is so ingrained in our perception of the possible future that 3D printing is perceived by many to be todays? equivalent of the replicator. Does it make sense to print everything and anything on a 3D printer? The media and countless amateur videos suggest that the possibilities are boundless, from a cake to a door handle, from designer shoes to a washer and 3D printing will replace traditional assembly line manufacturing in the near future. Traditional manufacturing has its drawbacks, especially mass production, but it can produce high quality for an amazingly low cost. 3D printing, on the other hand, generates items within a few hours which can be customized each time they are made. However, only in a very few cases can the quality of a mass produced item be attained via 3D printing. In this paper, we discuss glass manufacturing in the UK as an example.

4 pages

Additional Publication Information: NIP29: 29th International Conference on Digital Printing Technologies and Digital Fabrication 2013 (NIP 2013) [NIP 29]

  • External Posting Date: August 6, 2013 [Fulltext]. Approved for External Publication
  • Internal Posting Date: August 6, 2013 [Fulltext]

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