Why your company should not invest in 3D printing machine ?
Desktop 3D printing is a new emerging technology, and probably you have read about it in the papers by some person that is a 3D printing enthusiast, on blogs, or seen on TV and it's become a Peopoly Phenom.
Through all the information we get about 3d printing, we may think that we will make our own products with 3d printers. 3d printing is the future, and you might have bought a first 3d printer for your business.
Accroding to MakerBot survey that look for companies are likely to spend up to $100,000 investement for theyre internal need at 66% functional prototypes and 44% for research & development usage.
But according to the last two years' statistics, it is clear that 3d printing is not always beneficial for you or your customer. There are many disadvantages to 3d printing at home or in a small company.
It might be a cool hobby for you but those people who have spent some time know that it is not as simple as it seems on the internet.
I have seen many organizations and startups failing and shutting down the 3d printing business. 3D machines are hazardous and wasteful, and we cannot ignore their economic, societal, and environmental impacts. Moreover, 3d printing skips are used in traditional manufacturing, which is also a reason for the failure of 3d printing machines' failure.
The limitations of 3d printing may be few, but they hold a lot of importance to raise awareness among people. Here are the reasons why 3d printing sucks.
3D Printers Consume High Energy
According to the research by Loughborough University, a desktop 3D printer uses approximately 50 to 100 times more energy than injection molding when we melt plastic with heat or laser to make an item of the same size. MIT's Environmentally Benign Manufacturing program investigated the environmental impacts in 2009 related to product manufacturing.
The research showed that laser metal deposition uses 10 times more electrical energy than traditional manufacturing. This is the reason 3d printing is suitable for small batch production runs;
it is not suitable for mass production because printers consume a lot of electrical energy.
3D Printers Emit Unhealthy Air
It is not suitable to use 3d printers in enclosed places like homes because they emit unhealthy air. According to researchers at the Illinois Institute of Technology, as well as georgia institute technology even if you find the best 3D printers generate toxic emissions and carcinogen particles.
The 2019 study showed that 3d printers desktop release ultrafine particles and other harmful organic compounds during printing that are harmful to human health.
The printers using PLA filaments emit 20 billion ultrafine particles per minute, and ABS release 200 billion particles per minute during they build parts.
These radiations are equally harmful as burning a cigarette and may enter into our blood and cause chronic diseases like lung cancer and other ailments.
Consumes A Lot Of Time
You might be thinking that 3d printing process is easy. We need to click a button, and the machine will automatically make the product within an hour.
The people who spent time in it know that this is not the case. There are many challenges you have to face regarding machines and materials to get high-quality prints for your rapid prototyping project.
You can quickly print a 3d product by thickening its material layer. But as you will do so, the surface finish will lose its quality. So technically, this technique will not work to speed up additive manufacturing.
Apart from these challenges, a major fact is that 3d printing at home is quite slow. An example of slow working is the process of leveling the print bed. To get high-quality prints, the prints must be on a smooth and level surface. Many factors affect the additive process of leveling and slow down work.
But if you will be impatient and rush the process, you need to spend a lot of time re-leveling the surface a few times more.
Sometimes, it takes up to 22 to 24 hours or more to get larger prints depending on size and quality. If you are working on a big project, you need to plan a whole day to keep an eye on things.
It needs patience and persistence when it comes to 3d printing process.
Work On Limited Material
The one important disadvantage of affordable 3d printing is its limited material choice. 3d printing brings a great revolution in the industry, but materials are limited. For example, most of the time, only plastic is available as material.
However, metal is also used in some goods in 3d printers. Plastic is always preferred to make products because it has a low melting point, and it is easy to melt plastic to make the final product. However, plastic varies in strength capacity and not always good for all types of products.
Like metal, all the metals can be temperature controlled to make 3d products. Glass and gold are also used to make 3d products, but these are not commercialized yet.
Moreover, not all the 3d printing materials can be recycled, and few of them are food safe.
3D Printer Is Not User-Friendly.
3d printers are attracting people because of its excitements and printing technology. People think it is easy to use the 3d printer and get the desired products.
The reality is totally different than this. In reality, even the best 3d printer requires high-voltage power supplies, special equipment, and parts, making its usage difficult.
Some printers have low resolution and difficulty to connect with wi fi. Due to these reasons, more improvements are required to work smoothly with 3d printing technologies.
3D Printing Technology Is Expensive
3D printing technology is expensive if we calculate the equipment and materials cost.
3D printers for industries are still expensive and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and that is why the initial cost of this technology is pretty high.
The capital investment for a single machine starts from tens of thousands of dollars and goes up to hundreds of thousands of dollars and sometimes even more.
The material used in industrial-grade SLA printers costs high as compared to the material used in traditional manufacturing.
Mass printing in 3d is expensive as compared to conventional manufacturing techniques when we talk about assembling. Consumer 3d printer are cheaper than industrial-grade ones.
But the cost of electricity used by printers and printing material for in-house 3d printing materials makes the products more expensive than ready-made finished products in the market.
Depends Too Much On Plastic.
Another disadvantage of 3d printing is its reliance on plastic.
The use of plastic products from grocery bags to water bottles and other household items increases and becomes a threat to our environment. The government is trying best to eliminate plastic bags and other products to save our environment.
The low-cost 3d printer uses the FFF technique, the most common and cheapest filament plastic. Using plastic as raw material reduces the amount of waste, but plastic negatively affects the environment. PLA (polylactic acid) is biodegradable, but ABS filament is commonly used in 3d printing.
In the future, 3d printing technologies must use other materials like metals or carbon composites to make more useful products and reduce plastic usage. Otherwise, the plastic byproducts and other recycled plastic must be reuse again.
A 3D Printer Can Be Used In The Production Of Dangerous Weapons.
The major disadvantage of 3d printing is the threat to national security because, with 3d printing technologies, it is easy to make sharp and dangerous weapons like knives, guns, explosives, and other dangerous weapons.
Criminals and terrorists leverage rapid prototyping techniques and make these weapons to risk the security and lives of people. Some criminal organizations already made card readers for bank machines with the help of 3d printing industry and open source cad file.
With time, 3d systems manufacturing methods will be more common, cost-effective, and user-friendly, and it is possible to manufacture unlicensed weapons without being detected.
Industries Face Issues Of Copyright Infringement
Counterfeit is one of the major disadvantages of 3d printing as 3d technology is becoming more popular, attractive, and accessible.
Anyone can imitate the original product and make a copy of it quickly. Patent violations will be more common and hard to manage because it is difficult to practically identify counterfeited products.
with 3d technology, the possibility of creating fake products will be higher, and it will be impossible to tell the difference between original and fake products.
Patents and copyright holders have to be more active in protecting their rights and companies' unique products. Otherwise, there will be copyright and quality control issues around the world.
Safety Issues For Cutlery
There are safety issues for cutlery made with 3d printing because normally, ABS filament is used to make forks and spoons. These can cause health problems as it is not good for healthy eating.
Moreover, many printers have spaces where bacteria can grow well and mix with cutlery products. Nobody will want to eat pizza or other foods on toxic plates because health comes first.
For this purpose, you should use different materials that are safe for health. For cutlery and food products, you need to get FDA approved machine for hygienic manufacturing processes.
Restrictions To Build Size
People think that buying a low-cost 3d printer will help them to earn a large sum of money.
They think that they will be able to invent, design, and print several products to sell them to customer for a small price range on a big scale to earn a huge sum of money or using a service affiliate commission model. This is not true at all.
Wi fi Desktop 3d printer used at home a small build area (build volume), they are slow, and it takes almost more than an hour to print high-quality small products parts.
But it is not suitable for mass production than other injection molding methods, which can create hundreds of parts.
3d printers have small chambers, and it is impossible to print quality large size parts.
If you want to print a large-sized product, you need to print it in separate parts and then join it after production. In this way, the cost and time will increase automatically.
Post-Processing Slows Down The Manufacturing Process.
In this new technological era, additive manufacturing is moving from rapid prototyping to end part production. This is the reason 3d printed products are becoming more popular and important.
That is where finishing 3d printed parts come in. The 3d printed parts manufacturing requires some post-processing step that is the most crucial in 3d printing processes.
Post-processing is a technique to enhance the object finishing of 3d printed part.
The post-processing step takes a lot of time and thus slows down the 3d printing processes. 3d printed parts require a cleaning process to remove support material and build a smooth surface to get the desired finished designs.
Finishing methods consume a lot of time because it includes material jetting, sanding, chemical soaking or rinsing, heat or air drying, assembling, and others.
The post-processing method also depends upon the size, the print bed and build plate of 3d printed models, required applications of 3d printing, and type of three-dimensional printing technology.
So the major disadvantage of 3d printing is its post-processing.
The 3d printing technology, also known as additive manufacturing, builds a layer by layer.
There are chances of design inaccuracies, poor print quality, and small layer resolution in every layer due to differences in dimensions, repeatability, and precision level.
The design inaccuracies problems are directly related to the types of machines and processes used in its manufacturing. If there is making of the product with 3D printers having low tolerances, there will be a difference in the new final part, and it will vary from the original design.
For example, in stereolithography (SLA printers) 3d printing, you need to use liquid resin material with a high-precise laser to form each layer to get high-quality results.
Similarly, in selective laser sintering (SLS), the 3d printing depends on the laser's precision to fuse nylon powder into solid parts. Same as in fused filament fabrication (FDM Fused Deposition Modeling) 3d printing, nozzles extrude layers, so there are higher chances of inaccuracies around complex shapes.
These problems can be sorted out in the finishing process, but it takes a lot of time and increases production cost.
3d Printing Is Weaker Than Conventional Manufacturing
printers that we use in our homes are not that advanced to use a material like metal. Some people say that they print bronze or steel printing, but these prints are not purely made of bronze or steel in reality. There is a mixture of bronze and metal with plastic.
Although this idea is good, these prints are not as strong as metal 3d print.
Moreover, the objects we create by three dimensional printing technology are in the form of layers, one on top of the others. These layers stick together to make an object, but these objects are not strong enough like conventional manufacturing.
This is because printers create solid objects, but they do not entirely fuse into a solid block of plastic. This reason makes 3d objects weaker than the conventional one.
The easiest comparable example is the lego wall. When you place all the bricks in layers on top of each other, you press it down. It feels strong enough. But when you push the lego wall from its sides, it will break and fall easily.
High Skills And Learning Is Needed In 3d Printing.
3d printing is not as easy as people think it is. There are many skills and basic learning required for 3d printing.
You need a CAD model to print something. It is difficult to make CAD 3D models for 3d printing. To make a CAD model, you have to learn how this program works like Photoshop. It would help if you spent time on photoshop to learn drawing and editing.
After learning how to design a model, you need to learn about tolerances. A lot of design is needed because every design is unique and different from other designs and requires some modifications and specific features.
Need A Cool Environment To Work Well.
Another major disadvantage of additive manufacturing is the requirement for a cool environment. The process will not go well if there is a hot environment because most of the printers use plastic as a material.
Plastic easily melts in a hot area. Although some sophisticated types of plastics are now getting better in terms of heat resistance still, in the end, the material is plastic, no matter what kind of. If the 3d printed part do not fully melt, it can easily get soft and bend to break or deform.
You Need Different 3d Printing Machines For Different 3D Models.
Whether you are thinking about investing in 3d printing for home or your company, you need to research machine range.
A huge capital requires starting work because you cannot print different objects with a single 3d machine. There are different types of 3d printers available in the market, and every 3d printer contains specific features, advantages, and disadvantages.
FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) is the most common type of consumer printer that works well and allows materials to cool down quickly to be ready to touch. But not all the printers have the same specifications and functions.
Resin printers are most expensive and messy at the same time; powder-based based printers are messy and explosive sometimes.
It also means that never try to make 3d printed gun on a powder-based printer. Some printers consume a lot of energy and produce a lot of waste. This is why FDM is the only suitable printer to use; otherwise, it is advisable to get professional services.
You cannot afford to buy different types of affordable 3D printing machines, raising the cost.
Produces A Lot Of Waste.
using 3d printing or additive manufacturing works on different technologies and different methods. Some methods are expensive because their materials are expensive.
Some printing methods produce a lot of waste. An example of this type of process is selective laser sintering (SLS printers).
Selective laser sintering is also a 3d technology that looks like SLA. The SLA printing uses a liquid resin solution, and SLS printing uses nylon powder for printing 3d objects.
The SLA printers use liquid resin is somehow expensive, but any remaining resin printer can still be usable. But SLS laser sintering printing produces a lot of waste as compared to FDM printers and SLA printers.
The nylon powder in the chamber is preheated to sinter it with the slightest exposure to the laser. The preheating step determines the quality of the powder.
According to our experience, the SLS parts made with 100% recycled powder come out so weak that they cannot bear a slight pressure and fall apart.
The expert recommends using only 50% recycled powder to get a better quality product. You have to throw out waste nylon powder with every single print.
Less Performant Prototypes
The mechanical properties of 3d printed prototypes are different than manufactured parts.
It affects the performance also as 3d printed spare parts do not perform well compared to manufactured parts. There are many reasons for this nut top of the list is its material.
Low-cost 3d print prototypes do not use solid multiple materials, and the infill pattern is used to fill the part's interior volume.
This is why their performance is not equal to the parts manufactured by solid material with injection molding or CNC machining.
The other reason for differing mechanical properties is its manufacturing. 3d printed part performance is based on how it is made. As described above, using 3d printed part are made in a layered form, so there are more chances of breaking 3d print parts.
It again makes parts 3d performance less than others.
Limitations Of Aesthetics
Another downside of 3d printing parts is the limitations of aesthetics. 3d print parts are not as aesthetic as manufactured parts. The reason behind this is its manufacturing.
3d printed parts are made in layers, so the layers lines are easily visible in finished products. People who find aesthetics in everything may find it rough as compared to manufactured parts.
Moreover, it will be easily identifiable that it is a 3d print.
The Investment Cost Is High.
The biggest disadvantage of manufacturing 3d printing is its investment cost. No doubt, 3d printing has brought many new technologies in the industry for making parts with different methods. Still, the investment cost is high, and a roadblock for many businesses and manufacturers.
For example, an additive manufacturing machine may cost between $300,000 and $2 million. Though there is no need to hire skilled laborers to run 3d printing machines, you still need to get services regarding CAD files and the post-processing process for complex designs. The CAD trained professional team also add cost to your investment along with machines costs.
It Is Difficult To Make CAD Files
The computer-aided design CAD involves computers to create, modify, analyze, and optimize an object or part's design. It is used in industries and manufacturing like real-estate, automotive, defense, aerospace, etc.
The CAD software packages are costly, and in 3d printing, the first step is CAD. There is some free software available that offers free designs or you can use an affordable 3D scanning technology or download one design open-source on thingiverse.com, or hire a product designers service, but will not work for professionals who are looking for complex and serious stuff with advanced features.
To get such high quality, you need to pay a high-end cost. Advance software like AutoCAD and Solidworks is not cheap and charge heavy price.
There are many other ways to get CAD files, like to get professional service for CAD files, but again professionals will charge a heavy amount for CAD designs.
If you try to use software like AutoCAD, you need to hire skilled designers to handle this software.
Limitations Of Texture And Color Printing
There are multiple colors 3d printing is possible, but there are some limitations. With new and advanced technologies, many problems regarding color and texture limitations are being resolved, but it is still not as impressive.
The range of textures and colors in traditional manufacturing is greater than 3d printing. The users have to compromise on color and texture in 3d printing work.
Surface finish is also a downside of 3d printing and maybe disappointing due to cheaper printers. Even if we buy a high-quality, expensive printer, the quality surface finish is not the same as with other methods.
No doubt, 3d technology brought a revolution in the industry, and it provides numberless benefits. Simultaneously, problems related to it also exist, and we cannot ignore those problems.
3d printing is indeed capable of producing prints parts that are not possible through other methods. Still, we have to cross a long journey to research more regarding its cost, materials, colors, and usability.
3d printing will grow in rapid prototyping, low volume production run, aerospace, medical and goes on. But it is only suitable as a hobby or professional services.
It is not suitable for a company to run a 3d printing machine as it is very hard for a company to complete all the requirements of 3d printing like CAD, printing speed, digital light processing, usability, layer resolution, build volume, mass manufacturing, and many others.
It is advisable to get professional services, for your 3dprint or low volume manufacturing.
In recent years multiple online service that use your geolocation data to suggest a partners storeable to prints and get the desired results as professionals with a great layer resolution to accomplish tasks with dedication, experience, and capabilities.
They can improve the design and create entirely new products with a great print quality that cannot be created otherwise.
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