Advantages & Disadvantages Of 3D Printing Technology

Whenever you ask a 3D printer owner about their printer or the device’s major advantages, the person will inform you about the high-quality printing and the power to make prototypes.

However, when you will ask about the disadvantages, the answer typically follows about some disadvantages in the printer’s design: someone isn’t happy with an insufficiently rigid frame, and a few of them have also complained about too slow printing rates.

In the article, we are going to understand what advantages most 3D printers have and find out what disadvantages their owners have to face.

So, let’s now know what are the advantages and drawbacks of 3D printing over traditional manufacturing processes. 3D printing gradually taking place over the traditional manufacturing methods.

Let’s get to now know is it valid to follow 3D printing or the traditional manufacturing process or injection molding for the mass production process.

What Is 3D Printing?

3D printing technology also called additive manufacturing process, is a term that encapsulates several different manufacturing methods that are unified singly:

The capability to produce custom components by slowly making them out of basic material. 3D printing is an integral technique in modern manufacturing over the traditional manufacturing techniques, helping users to make custom parts easily and quickly.

These parts are easily made using complicated geometries and shapes and also serve a wide range of applications in the defense, aerospace, medical, and automotive industries using rapid prototyping.

Additive technologies bear unique advantages as well as disadvantages compared to other manufacturing methods, like CNC (Computerized Numerical Control) machining, where bulk materials are decreased to their ultimate shape through cutting or manufacturing methods.

The article below will explore several advantages and drawbacks of 3D printing.


Advantages Of 3D Printing Additive Manufacturing

Let’s begin with the advantages: 3D printing allows you to relatively inexpensively and quickly produce the desired prototypes with high accuracy, independently adjusting the settings of the printer and choosing the best parameters.

Unlike traditional manufacturing processes, 3D printing manufacturing processes have some unique advantages. Let’s find out each advantage of 3D printers in more detail over traditional methods.

Less Waste, More Sustainable

In 3D printing, only the needed limited materials are utilized to make specific parts, as it’s an additive process.

This’s different from the traditional processes, in which massive masses of non-recyclable materials are cut to make 3D parts. So, the overall waste of 3D printing is lower because the printer uses as much product as needed and you only spend for what you require.

3D printing (additive manufacturing process) meets the major standards for sustainability which are – reduce, reuse, & recycle.


Cost Reduction

Large-scale projects with a large number of 3D printed parts aren’t cost-effective, but additive manufacturing remains more profitable than traditional technologies and other methods.

Many manufacturers use 3D printing for prototyping or short runs. For instance, it’s much more beneficial for jewelers to print wax prototypes of jewelry than to cast them from metal. The plastic used in 3D printing is relatively cheap, and even the simplest 3D printer can help you save money.


Provides An Enhanced Competitive Advantage

Old manufacturing methods are typically characterized by inadequate design, which can cause poor-quality prototypes.

It means that the product quality can’t be assured. However, this isn’t the case when you use 3D printing technology, as the item is made in a serious step-by-step approach, which guarantees outstanding product quality and design process.

3D printing also permits for greater consistency as compared to other production methods, while still delivering consistently high-quality parts.

This’s possible since errors are noticed immediately, allowing to decrease the generally wasted materials and also defective parts.

Thus, this essential technology provides parts in a batch that are not incompatible or defective when compared to other parts.


Reduce Time

3D printers can reduce the spent time significantly on each project. different from traditional production methods, while using additive technologies, the whole printing process may take several days or weeks, and the mass customization from CAD files can be printed in a matter of hours.

Some automobile manufacturers have chosen to optimize their products by starting to create parts to order.

This approach lets you take mass production to a new level: now you don’t need to have a lot of stock of different parts, since you can print them simply as required, immediately editing individual files.


Freedom of design

3D printing permits for the design to be as per the operator’s desire and print of more complex geometry or shape than traditional manufacturing processes.

Further traditional manufacturing technologies have design limitations that are not the case in 3D printing. You can print even the most complex designs in these printers.


Reduce Errors

The appearance of the product virtually or on screen can’t resemble the real feel of a prototype that one can experience using 3D printing technology.

Therefore, it’s possible to touch & feel the product’s physical prototype and check whether there’re any errors in its design or not. If there’s an error, you can edit the CAD files to print a new version later.


Sustainability

Even though conventional manufacturing processes are slowly becoming more endurable and sustainable with time, the 3D printing process has a few environmental benefits over its more aged counterpart methods.

This modern method is improving constantly, and specialists predict a thrilling future where customers can order customized parts depending on their requirements while decreasing material loss.

3D printing’s capability to decrease material loss and also unnecessary abundance makes an excellent process in case we want to make a more green economizing and enhance sustainability in the industry of manufacturing.


Option To Prototype

Conventional manufacturing methods rely on shaping and cutting techniques to make the preferred shapes, which isn’t only hard but also costly.

Fortunately, you will not have this issue with 3D printing technology, and all you require is the right support material to create a product at very low costs.

To print any product using a 3D printer, you need to create a CAD file physical prototype. The 3D printer lets you create hollow shapes, and have severe undercuts, which is impossible with any other traditional methods.


Production On-Demand

Different from subtractive manufacturing, a 3D printer doesn’t take up much space as products can simply be printed as soon as needed or ordered.

Not just you’ll save on labor costs and other costs with this, but you’ll even save space as you only produce large volumes when required. All 3D design files are kept in a virtual space, from where you can print them using a 3D model as a CAD or STL file.


Improvements In The Medical Sector

3D printing has improved the medical sector as it’s nowadays possible to print organs of the human body such as the kidneys, liver, and heart.

Hearing aids or printing prostheses isn’t any longer an inquisitiveness for anybody. Additionally, more investigation is going into how 3D printing can help the healthcare sector.

Moreover, new therapeutic techniques and tools created through 3D printing fetch new levels of personalization and comfort to the treatment.

And this recently available technology, also, allows physicians to achieve a better experience of complex subjects and offers unique tools that can eventually cause a higher measure of care.

Typically, conventional manufacturing processes are more affordable for large-scale creation, but the expense of 3D printers is turning competitive for slighter production runs.

This’s likely to save millions of dollars in the medical sector. This modern method will reduce costs of manufacturing and production costs by improving efficiency, increasing resources, and also eliminating traditional development processes.


Produce Lighter & Stronger Parts

Plastic is mainly used for 3D printings, although there’re also other materials obtainable for 3D printings. 3D printings allow the production of complex shapes that are way lighter than products made in other manufacturing processes.

In the automotive and aerospace industries, this’s a vital element as the usage of lightweight materials allows for improving the efficiency of fuel.

3D printed products can be created from materials that have certain characteristics like higher strength, water repellency, and heat resistance. Plastic materials like PLA (Polylactic acid) can be mixed with wood or even metals for unique properties and finished products.


3D Printing Is Very Accessible

The benefit of 3D printing tools has improved in recent years because of greater accessibility. 3D printings and modelings are accessible, adaptable, and affordable technology.

Makers have developed a wide range of free, easily obtainable 3D modeling software applications as well as warehouses of easily usable models.


Eco-Friendly

Maximum energy utilized in 3D printings comes mainly from warming the nozzle to melt the plastic (such as PLA, ABS), and also from heating the warmed printing bed in case you’ve got one.

PLA filament material melts at a lower heat than ABS material, therefore needing less power to complete the printing procedure. However, in case you choose ABS filament material for your product, you’ll also need a heating bed to stop warping, adding extra heating needs.

Picking PLA filament material is surely the low-energy alternative. Moreover, these materials used in 3D printing are all biodegradable. So, you can recycle and reuse the material. That is why 3D printing is known as an eco-friendly process.


Advantages of 3D Printings in Construction

The industry of construction presently causes an extensive amount of waste, as well as an improvement toward sustainability, which is quite slow.

Because of the complexness of supply chains in this field, green management has had a narrow effect. Construction assignments can involve several different businesses, making it exceedingly difficult to guarantee a sustainable method is used throughout the entire supply chain.

However, disruptive technologies like 3D printing come with the potential to transform the method that which products are invented and manufactured, mainly changing the construction of supply chains.

3D printing is helping the construction industry and the industry is gradually becoming leaner, more sustainable, and more efficient.


Disadvantages Of 3D Printing

Despite several 3D printing advantages, it isn’t an excellent production procedure for every situation.

This way, you will learn if the advantages compared to traditional manufacturing methods are more or significant disadvantages. 3D printing might not be the ideal procedure for your task if you can’t reimburse for the subsequent disadvantages.

Initial Costs Of Printers

3D printers, especially the industrial ones are on the expensive side. This type of 3D printer costs you around tens to hundreds to even thousands of dollars.

Although these 3D printers are made to do several things of high quality. But looking at the initial costs of the printers and costly material needed it is quite hard for everyone to afford it. So, the initial investment dramatically affects 3D printing methods.


Post-Processing Methods Of 3D Printings

While printing, layers are observable on parts. If these are additional parts, polishing doesn’t play a role in the operation.

In case this’s the ultimate product, then it should be polished. So, printing a product isn’t all you need to do. Rather, you need to perform post-processing to get a perfectly finished product. So, it is a time-consuming and hard process.


Limitation Available Materials Needed

When 3D Printing can produce objects in a selection of metals and plastics, the available preference of raw material isn’t comprehensive.

This’s because not all plastics or metals can handle the temperature enough to let 3D printing work properly. Additionally, many of these materials can’t be recycled as well as very few of them are food safe. Only a few selected raw materials can handle the heat.


Special Skills Needed For 3D Models

The technology of 3D printing is still unknown to many people, and there are still several trial & error details needed when making 3D items. Despite the 3D printing potential, 3D printers aren’t easy to operate.

Nevertheless, experts believe the 3D printing technology has a potentially abrupt learning curve that’s being analyzed. This technology is not everyone’s cup of tea. You need to have a certain skill set to operate the machine properly.


Decrease Manufacturing Jobs

Manufacturing job losses are one of the most significant disadvantages of 3D printing. The usage of 3D printing lets you create complex designs and prototypes within just a few hours with easy steps.

Most manufacturing steps are eradicated and this allows savings on labor costs since fewer people ought to be employed to finish the manufacturing process.

Finally, this causes the removal of manufacturing jobs. This can be significantly worse in nations where the maximum of citizens rely on low-skill jobs for creating parts.

Certainly, manufacturers and operators of 3D printers are needed, which partly recompenses for these failures.


Limitations on Build Volume Of Manufacturing Process

Maximum 3D printers nowadays have little build chambers. This drawback also applies to industrial-grade products.

The injection molding presses as well as mills have a significant ability to create items of a substantial size.

In case someone desired to follow a comparable manufacturing method using the printing procedure, then the final product would require to get glued depending on the fractional dimensions that could be created.

It means the production time will go up to produce the larger products, reducing the time and cost advantages that are achievable with smaller parts or prototypes.


Struggles to Manage Large Volume Orders

In case you need a huge quantity of products in a short period, then 3D printing won’t be the perfect production procedure you want to pick.

Unlike injection molding, you can’t print several items in one batch. Once you complete the design, you need to print the products one by one.

You need to wait till a product is completed. Moreover, the printing bed needs to reach a certain heat. Thus, there will be more waiting periods.

May Not Pass Through Strength Tests

3D printing or additive manufacturing lets products get printed layer-by-layer that stick to each other throughout the creation procedure.

It means these products can often break or separate under particular stress levels or even with part exposure.

This problem is an even greater issue when using the Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) method. You can utilize polyjet or multijet printing to make materials that have further solidity, but that procedure causes a brittle final product.

In case you avoid delamination for the project, then the injection molding procedure is going to be the best solution. This produces homogenous products in methods that are not necessarily achievable through 3D printing techniques.


Uneven Surface Finishes Of The Production Process

Since 3D printers generally build products layer-by-layer, they sometimes show observable steps on steep surfaces.

These visible layer heights can be effective for specific processes. It can be frustrating in case you wish to make a further aesthetically acceptable part.

A few post-processing methods can fix this problem, such as vapor smoothing, however, remember that the natural finish of the surface of maximum printed products can’t contend with products produced via CNC machining or injection molding.


Lower Accuracy Tolerations

A few 3D printers have very lower tolerances. This results in final products that are separate from the original prototype.

This’s a potential issue that’s presently connected to the operation of 3D printers operated. While the issue can be improved by post-processing, the extra production cost is desired.


Size Restrictions

3D printing is not well fitted while you need products at an end of the size scale; you’ll then run the chance of making a product that’s too big or too tiny.

For instance, it’s hard for a 3D printing bed to create parts shorter than a peanut as well as bigger than a soccer ball.

Sadly, the smaller or larger the product you prefer, the less accessibility there will be for that product because some 3D printers can perfectly print at that smaller or larger scale.


Disadvantages In The Medical Field, Organs, Medicine, Prosthetics

3D printers do not always deliver top-of-the-line outcomes. Three-dimensional solid objects can differ slightly in size, and a few levels of creation noise — such as bumps or texture when a surface ought to be very smooth — may be presented in the manufacturing process.

If that is the case, the irregularities and noise would need to be machined out by a worker even before the products would be permitted to come into contact with patients.

Although 3D printing has a few benefits in the medical field, it likewise brings a few disadvantages with it.

There’re still many disadvantages that aren’t on this list. However, there are a few major disadvantages that medical practitioners and pharmacies should know about 3D printing.

Pharmaceutical businesses can’t possibly control the efficiency of 3D printing operations. Additionally, they need to think of the potential liability implications of the product.

The rapid growth in propagating fake pills is among the greatest problems with 3D printing. Similarly, 3D printers are being utilized by hackers to make fake medicines quicker than the traditional manufacturing methods.


Disadvantages Of FDM 3D Printing

The main drawback of Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) 3D printing is the low resolution of the technology.

Not just does FDM’s fairly dense layer height mean that it isn’t perfect for products with small components, but it even means that completed products will probably have rough surfaces as well as need post-processing to get a smoother product.

Although vapor smoothing, epoxy adhesion, and gap-filling can enhance the appearance of the part, these procedures will also increase the times of production.

Consequently, Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) 3D printers are not perfect for creating products that need a high resolution or smooth finishes.

Since Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) 3D printers generally place filaments one layer by another in a certain direction, the resultant prints are anisotropic as well as prone to infringement, particularly where the layers should meet one another.

For instance, FDM parts can readily break when meeting compressing forces similar to their layers. Rotating between layers of printing on the X-axes and Y-axes can support a print, however, for maximum applications, the more delicate weight of a Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) part makes up for a small reduction in power.

Support structures are required when printing with Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), this means that the prints will need more time, post-processing, and material than in case they were created with a procedure such as HP Multi Jet Fusion, which doesn’t need support structures.

There’s a wide range of 3D printing techniques that need support structures, even though they can barely increase timelines and costs.


Disadvantages Of 3D Printing In Construction Field

Maybe the biggest problem with the general acceptance of 3D printing in construction fields is the high initial cost of buying or renting such tools and also the logistics concerned in getting these big 3D printers to the site of construction.

Construction labor deficiencies are already an issue, and finding skilled workers to operate 3D printing construction conditions can prove to be more difficult in the future.

The environmental factors, weather, etc. are all situations that can make 3D printing technology in commercial buildings more of a failure than a success. Similarly, quality management in buildings can already be a problematic matter.

In case not continuously observed and managed by real human beings, quality in the 3D printing technology could end up being quite an expensive procedure.


FAQ Disadvantages Of 3D Printing

Following are the common questions on the 3d printing disadvantages

What’s The Most Significant Problem Of 3D Printing?

The cost of pre-processing and post-processing, the restricted selection of 3D printing materials & technology regulations are the largest 3D printing problems.

What Are The Problems Of 3D Printing?

There are more than a few problems with 3D printing technology. Some of them are as follows…

• Uneven Surface Finishes
• Not Pass Through Strength Tests
• Struggles to Manage Large Volume Orders
• Limitations on Build Volume
• Decrease Manufacturing Jobs
• Special Skills Needed For 3D Models


Conclusion

Despite a relatively slow start, additive technologies are finally gaining momentum. Now 3D printers have gained well-deserved popularity both in the user environment and in the field of production.

We have already appreciated the many benefits of 3D printing, including the ability to print complex models, but the peak of popularity and functionality of 3D technologies is yet to come.

We have mentioned the main advantages and disadvantages of 3D printers in the article above. Please check them out to know if 3D printing is worth it or not.

 

Resources

  • twi-global.com/technical-knowledge/faqs/what-is-3d-printing/pros-and-cons
  • tractus3d.com/knowledge/learn-3d-printing/advantages-of-3d-printing/
  • 3dprintingspot.com/post/3d-printing-advantages-disadvantages
  • xometry.com/resources/3d-printing/pros-and-cons-of-3d-printing/
  • vittana.org/21-biggest-pros-and-cons-of-3d-printing
  • 3space.com/pros-and-cons-of-3d-printing/
  • seacomp.com/resources/benefits-and-drawbacks-to-3d-printing-in-manufacturing