The global manufacturing industry is reeling from the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak. The mega-factories we rely on are experiencing shortages of personnel and raw materials for production. With the shortages of basic medical products like PPEs and respirators, it’s evident that manufacturing plays an important role in battling this virus and future pandemics. So where does industrial 3D printing, also know as additive manufacturing (AM), fit into the manufacturing ecosystem? And what benefits can the AM industry provide?
For those of you unfamiliar with the term, additive manufacturing is defined as the process of joining materials to make objects from 3D model data, usually layer upon layer, as opposed to subtractive manufacturing methods. Right now, we are seeing many 3D printing businesses step up to the plate to provide masks and respirators to personnel on the front lines. The additive manufacturing process provides the ability to produce on-demand and the flexibility to rapidly adapt and change—for instance, change a design to meet a current need. This can all be done without retooling a factory, cutting time and costs.
With the use of 3D model data, designers can adapt, customize and simplify designs. And with the use of augmented reality/spatial computing, design teams can collaborate on design changes from anywhere—whether they are in the same room or working remotely. Experts are already predicting that the office of the future will include more remote collaboration.
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