Case Studies of Successful 3D Printing Applications in Various Industries

The Maker's Domain
5 min readMar 16, 2023

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Photo by Tom Claes on Unsplash

The rise of 3D printing technology has brought about a revolution in manufacturing, with the ability to create complex and customized designs on-demand. This has led to the exploration of new applications across a wide range of industries. In this article, we will take a closer look at some successful 3D printing applications in various industries.

Aerospace

The aerospace industry has been one of the pioneers in the use of 3D printing technology. The ability to create complex and lightweight designs has led to the development of new aerospace parts that were not possible to manufacture before.

Airbus

Airbus has been using 3D printing to create titanium parts for its planes, reducing weight and cost while maintaining high strength and durability. For instance, Airbus produced a titanium bracket for A350 Airbus aircraft using 3D printing. The part is now used in the series production of A350 XWB aircraft.

New Airbus A350 XWB Aircraft Contains Over 1,000 3D Printed Parts — 3DPrint.com | The Voice of 3D Printing / Additive Manufacturing

Boeing

Similarly, Boeing has been using 3D printing to create lightweight and fuel-efficient designs, resulting in a significant reduction in aircraft weight and fuel consumption. One notable example is the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which contains over 20 3D-printed components. Boeing printed structural brackets for the Dreamliner that were 50% lighter than the traditionally manufactured parts.

Making 3D-printed parts for Boeing 787s

Medical

The medical industry has also been quick to adopt 3D printing technology for a wide range of applications. One of the most promising areas is the use of 3D printing in creating patient-specific implants and prosthetics.

Oxford Performance Materials

Oxford Performance Materials has been using 3D printing to create spinal implants, resulting in better outcomes and faster recovery times for patients. The spinal implants are made of a polymer that is biocompatible and helps bones grow into the implant, reducing the need for additional surgeries. Oxford Performance Materials has also used 3D printing to create facial implants that are customized to fit the patient’s facial structure, resulting in improved aesthetics and functionality.

Oxford Performance Materials achieves medical accreditation in Japan for 3D printed implants — 3D Printing Industry

Walter Reed National Military Medical Center

Walter Reed National Military Medical Center has been using 3D printing to create prosthetics for wounded soldiers. 3D printing has enabled the creation of prosthetics that are customized to fit the patient’s specific needs, resulting in improved mobility and comfort.

Walter Reed’s 3-D Printing Innovations Help Warfighters Get Back to Li

Automotive

The automotive industry has been using 3D printing to create complex and lightweight designs for various parts.

Local Motors

Local Motors is a company that uses 3D printing to create custom-designed cars on demand. By using 3D printing, Local Motors has been able to reduce the time and cost of producing cars while allowing customers to customize their designs. For instance, the Strati, a 3D-printed car, took just 44 hours to print and assemble, compared to the months it would take to manufacture a traditional car.

3D Printing 101 — How to Make a Car: Local Motors Gives Us a Sneak Peek — 3DPrint.com | The Voice of 3D Printing / Additive Manufacturing

Bugatti

Bugatti used 3D printing to create the brake caliper for the Chiron, a supercar that is capable of reaching speeds of over 300 miles per hour. The brake caliper is made of titanium and is one of the largest 3D-printed components in the automotive industry.

Bugatti refines 3D printing perfection

Fashion

3D printing has also found its way into the fashion industry, with designers using 3D printing to create unique and intricate designs.

Iris van Herpen

Iris van Herpen has been using 3D printing to create stunning dresses that are both beautiful and functional. 3D printing allows designers to create intricate designs that are not possible to manufacture using traditional techniques. For example, the Kinematics Dress, designed by Nervous System and printed by Shapeways.

Meet Iris van Herpen, the Dutch Designer Boldly Going Into the Future

Architecture

The architecture industry has also been exploring the use of 3D printing to create complex designs and models. 3D printing allows architects to create intricate models that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

The Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia

the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia, which has been using 3D printing to create innovative building designs, including a 3D printed house. In 2018, the IAAC unveiled its first 3D-printed house, which was created in just one week using a large 3D printer. The house is made up of 35 different 3D-printed parts that were assembled on site, creating a functional and sustainable living space.

IAAC constructs 3D-printed building in spain using earth, aloe, egg whites & enzymes

Foster + Partners

a London-based architecture firm that has been experimenting with 3D printing to create concrete columns. Foster + Partners used a 3D printer to create a steel building truss. The truss is part of the Large-scale Additive Subtractive Integrated Modular Machine (LASIMM), which can make parts up to 5 meters (16.4 feet) long. This machine combines digital design with 3D printing to help manufacturing and construction. Foster + Partners received an EU grant to develop LASIMM in 2016 with help from companies and universities. They worked with BAE Systems and Vestas to create a prototype structural element. The machine quickly shapes steel or aluminum and Autodesk created software for the complex machine. Foster + Partners’ goal was to showcase the potential of the technology for integration into future buildings. The truss was successful and the next step is to use LASIMM for a commercial project.

Foster + Partners breaks new ground with LASIMM 3d printing technology | Foster + Partners

Education

3D printing has also found its way into education, with schools and universities using 3D printing to create hands-on learning experiences for students. 3D printing allows students to create physical models of their designs, enhancing their understanding of complex concepts. For example, some schools have been using 3D printing to create models of molecules, allowing students to understand the structure of molecules in a more tactile way.

The University of Florida: GRiP Organization

the University of Florida, where students use 3D printing to create prosthetics for kids. The students create customized prosthetics using 3D printing, making the process faster and more affordable than traditional methods. Generational Relief in Prosthetics (GRiP), a University of Florida organization, designs and manufactures 3D printed assistive devices for children and adults with upper limb differences throughout the nation. Students from every major, from biomedical engineering to art, learn to fabricate prosthetics.

GRiP: University of Florida club changing lives with 3D printed prosthetics

Conclusion

These are just a few examples of successful 3D printing applications in various industries. The ability to create customized and complex designs on-demand has opened up new possibilities across a wide range of industries. As the technology continues to evolve and become more accessible, we can expect to see even more innovative applications of 3D printing in the future.

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