Today, the 3D printing field has advanced in accuracy, product complexity, and the number of available processes. Companies can scale the production of complex products to high volume using two processes: stereolithography (SLA) and digital light processing (DLP).

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While COVID-19 brought chaos last year to manufacturing and supply chains, it also fueled innovation and new perspectives on how goods are produced and distributed globally. As wait times for overseas products skyrocketed, brand companies and original equipment manufacturers (OEM’s) are looking at ways to become more agile and resilient to market disruptions.  By reducing…

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Two common 3D printing processes are fused deposition modeling (FDM) and digital light processing (DLP). Each of these 3D printing processes is best suited to specific product applications. Anyone interested in using 3D printing for their next product should understand the differences between FDM vs. DLP 3D printing. DLP processes and systems enable the manufacturing of products like dental appliances, medical devices, and footwear. With greater speed, better surface finishing, and isotropic material properties DLP may be a better choice for companies looking to decrease product development time, de-risk manufacturing operations, and create unique business models.

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3D printed dental surgical guide

3D printing dentistry solutions make it easier to produce custom products like dental prosthetics, implants, and surgical equipment such as guides. Surgical guides are becoming a standard tool to assist implant procedures, reduce surgery duration, and reduce the risk of complications. With advanced 3D printing systems, dental surgical guides are more affordable and accurate than ones made with traditional processes.

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With the increasing availability of advanced materials for 3D printing, the range of printable dental appliances continues to expand. Applications of 3D printing in dentistry already include implants, models, guides, surgical tools, and PPE. Dental care providers utilizing such applications are enabling faster, more responsive service and better patient care.

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Footwear Manufacturing

In recent years, advancements in 3D printing technology are streamlining the manufacturing process. Footwear companies are leveraging 3D printers to optimize operations, enabling fully-functional prototypes and increased design freedom. 3D printing improves the footwear manufacturing process with greater automation, and 3D printed footwear is projected to globally generate over USD 1 billion by 2023 and USD 6.5 billion by 2029.

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The ideal additive manufacturing process

Additive manufacturing is often associated with low-volume production or prototyping. Some 3D printers are developed for the sole purpose of rapid prototyping. Still, innovations in 3D printing technology have made high-volume production both feasible and often the best solution for accelerating a new product to market. 3D printing has no tooling costs and very few design limitations. Companies can implement 3D printing solutions from innovation through production, eliminating certain drawbacks associated with traditional manufacturing.

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Clear aligners

The traditional method used to produce oral devices is time-consuming and inconvenient for patients. It is a multi-appointment process that involves creating manual, oral impressions and outsourcing them to a dental lab for fabrication. Device turnaround can take 2 to 4 weeks to complete. Dentists can accelerate the process by switching to a digital workflow that utilizes an intraoral scanner and 3D printer. Intraoral scanners eliminate the need for manual, oral impressions, and 3D printers produce oral devices more quickly than conventional processes.

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Traditional footwear manufacturing is a time-consuming process that often limits designs. With high tooling costs and production limitations, initial designs, tooling, and prototyping can take months to complete and require significant investments. The final product design must fit the production method, and processes, like injection molding, can constrain the design. Products need to be developed so that tools can be built for mass production. Designers who work with injection molding must often reconfigure their product layouts to meet production criteria after the prototyping stage.

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