Additive manufacturing Three reasons why 3D printing must be boring

From Johannes Lutz

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3D printing thrives on innovation, new materials, speed and simplification of the process. But is this the right strategy for the future when it comes to the successful use of AM technology?

Boredom is actually almost non-existent in the ever-faster spinning world. But in terms of additive manufacturing, it could be the key to success.
Boredom is actually almost non-existent in the ever-faster spinning world. But in terms of additive manufacturing, it could be the key to success.
(Source: Unsplash)

Groundbreaking applications are presented that were never before in the sights of engineers and users. There is a sense of optimism for the constant change and further development of the young 3D printing technology.

However, if the focus is placed on the essentials of 3D printing, it is a manufacturing technology like any other. It solves problems by making components that are lighter, faster to use and more functional. Whether for prototypes, manufacturing aids or in the product itself. Once the problem to be solved is known and well identified, choosing the right 3D printing technology, printing and post-processing is the shortest and easiest step.

Flooding with innovation prevents progress

In essence, the ‘3D printed solution’ is always the focus of the user. Do newly developed materials, advanced technologies as well as even smarter software play such a big role in this every year or is it just ‘nice to have’?

If you're new to the industry, it feels like a big jungle with endless possibilities to solve problems. An almost unlimited toolbox with an abundance of equipment.

But the truth is, it's often forgotten, especially with the flood of options, to really solve the problem as focus is lost and jumping back to the next great option.

The three reasons why 3D printing must be boring

The shiny object syndrome: Everyone knows the feeling of, “Oh wow, I really need to have that too!” If you have this thought, you might have fallen for the shiny object syndrome. This is not a bad thing, it is rather a tendency or even a certain behaviour that constantly focuses your attention on something new. You see something new and get enormously excited about it in the short term, have the ambition to work it out and after a short time disinterest sets in and you go back to looking for the next ‘shiny object’.

Does what you are doing and have planned work? By constantly adding a new feature, another material or new software functions, the intended goal is often forgotten. You are very busy, but not paying attention to the desired result. (If your goal is research, that’s fine). The question should always be, “Is what I am doing working and taking me closer to my goal?”. If your goal is to print customer orders or components for your own use, exploring new materials just to see if it works is often a costly pastime.

Success lies in discipline: as with other manufacturing technologies, the past has shown that once a certain output level is required, manufacturing technologies quickly become boring and monotonous, but productive and lucrative because the focus is maintained rather than constantly innovating or trying new things. Why even change a process if it is profitable and solves problems.

Design. Print. Solve. Repeat.

Strictly speaking, 3D printing is a clever set of processes to be repeated over and over again. In entrepreneurship, it is common to try to achieve more output with less input. More precisely, to turn one euro into two and to do this as quickly and easily as possible.

However, the question is whether you rather enjoy ‘shiny objects’ or have a specific goal with 3D printing that does not always require the latest feature. There is no right or wrong strategy, what is important is that you get closer to your goal.

This article was first published on Mission Additive.


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