Though there are many benefits to using 3D printing technology, it is not without its limitations.
In order to make an educated decision on whether or not investing in this new technology is worth it, it’s important to know what are the limitations of 3D printing technology.
What about the drawbacks to be aware of before you invest in a printer or start using it for your business?
What if I told you that there were many pros to this technology, but also a few cons.
In this article, I talked about some limitations of 3d printing technology you should know before purchasing one.
Read More About:
- How does 3D printing help the environment and society? (3 min read)
- 5 Uses of 3D Printers In Everyday Life You May Have Never Thought Of! (3 min read)
- Some Limitations Of 3D Printing Technology
- 1. Limited Printing Materials
- 2. Limited Build Size of the 3D Printer
- 3. Slow Printing Speed for Mass Production
- 4. Limitations in terms of Cost
- 5. Post Processing Requirements
- 6. Color and Textures in the additive manufacturing process
- 7. 3D Printing Needs Skilled Users for Operation
- 8. Limitations in Design Accuracy
- 9. Contamination Of The Material
- 10. Lack Of Structural Integrity and Mechanical Strength
- 11. Large Scale Adoption of 3D Printing will Lead to a Scarcity of Jobs
- Future Limitations
- How can we Overcome the Limitations of 3D Printing?
Some Limitations Of 3D Printing Technology
1. Limited Printing Materials
The limited selection of printing materials is one of the main limitations of 3D printing technology.
The most common materials used in 3D printing are plastics and metals, but there are a limited number of materials that can be used in 3D printing.
Many metals and plastics cannot be used for 3D printing because they require too much heat, which can distort the shape of the object being printed.
In addition, many of these materials are not environment-friendly.
2. Limited Build Size of the 3D Printer
The build size of a 3D printer is one of its major limitations. This is the maximum size of an object that the printer can create.
Most printers have a build size of around 6x6x6 inches. This means that the printer can only create objects that are this size or smaller.
In order to print the larger 3D object of your project, you will need a printer with capabilities for part separation and assembly.
There are some 3D printers that have a larger build size, but they are more expensive.
3. Slow Printing Speed for Mass Production
Additive manufacturing technology has revolutionized the manufacturing industry with its ability to print 3D objects from digital files.
However, this technology is not without limitations. One of the main limitations of 3D printing technology is its slow printing speed.
This can be a major hindrance when it comes to mass producing items.
4. Limitations in terms of Cost
The cost of 3D printing technology is also a major limitation.
The printers are expensive, and the filaments used for printing can be expensive as well.
This limits the use of 3D printing technology to high-end applications where the cost is justified.
5. Post Processing Requirements
The Limitations of Post Processing Requirements in 3D printing are as follows:
1. The post-processing requirements for 3D printing can be time-consuming and complex, often requiring multiple steps to achieve the desired result.
2. Some post-processing techniques, such as sanding and polishing, can be very labor-intensive and time-consuming.
3. Some finishes, such as chrome plating, can be very expensive.
4. In order to get the best results from 3D printed parts, it is often necessary to have a good understanding of the post-processing techniques available and how to use them effectively.
6. Color and Textures in the additive manufacturing process
3D printers are capable of producing a wide range of objects with different colors and textures.
However, there are some limitations to what can be printed using this technology.
For example, 3D printers can only print in one color at a time.
This means that if you want to print an object that has multiple colors, you will need to print it in separate parts and then assemble them together.
Another limitation of 3D printing is that it is not currently possible to print textures or patterns on objects.
This means that all objects printed using this technology will be smooth and uniform in color.
While this may not be a problem for some applications, it can be a limitation for others.
7. 3D Printing Needs Skilled Users for Operation
One of the limitations of 3D printing technology is that it requires skilled users for operation.
In order to get the most out of 3D printing, users need to have a good understanding of both the software and hardware involved in the process.
This can be a challenge for many people, especially those who are not familiar with computers or engineering.
8. Limitations in Design Accuracy
3D printing technology has come a long way in terms of accuracy, but there are still some limitations when it comes to the level of detail that can be printed.
This is due largely to the fact that 3D printers work by layering material onto a surface, which can create small inconsistencies in the final product.
This can be particularly noticeable in finely detailed designs or prints with multiple colors.
Another limitation of 3D printing technology is its lack of flexibility.
Because 3D printers rely on specific instructions in order to create a print, they cannot easily be adapted to changes in design or layout.
This can result in prints that are not quite what the designer intended, and may require some adjustment and tweaking before they are ready for use.
9. Contamination Of The Material
One major limitation of the traditional manufacturing methods is that they produce objects from solid metal alloys, which can lead to contamination problems.
Additive manufacturing vs traditional manufacturing processes
For example, if a particular metal alloy was drilled or milled in an environment with airborne chemicals such as chlorine, these contaminants could become trapped inside the object and affect its structural integrity over time.
This type of contamination would not be possible with 3D printing technology because it does not require any milling or cutting into a solid block of material.
Unfortunately, this also means that 3D printed parts cannot be used in situations where metal parts need to be resistant to corrosion or erosion over time.
10. Lack Of Structural Integrity and Mechanical Strength
Another major limitation of 3D printing technology is that it produces objects with a relatively low level of structural integrity and mechanical strength compared to many traditional manufacturing methods.
Even the strongest 3D printed objects cannot be used in situations where high levels of stress or strain are placed on them, such as in cars or airplanes.
This means that they will instead need to be replicated multiple times using traditional manufacturing processes, which is both time-consuming and expensive.
11. Large Scale Adoption of 3D Printing will Lead to a Scarcity of Jobs
As 3D printing technology becomes more widespread, it is likely that there will be fewer jobs available in traditional manufacturing sector.
3D printing is much faster and more efficient than conventional manufacturing process, which require parts to be cut or machined from a solid block of material.
As a result, many factories and manufacturing plants may soon become obsolete, as businesses move to adopt 3D printing technology.
This shift could have a significant impact on the economy, as millions of people currently work in traditional manufacturing jobs.
3D printing is still in its early stages of development, and it is likely that many more jobs will be lost in the coming years and decades.
It is currently not possible for businesses and individuals to create complex electronic devices like smartphones entirely from scratch using 3D printing technology, as semiconductor materials such as silicon are unable to print.
It is likely that these materials will be used in the future, but it will take considerable time and investment to achieve this.
In addition, 3D printing technology cannot currently print living cells or tissues.
This could make it difficult for people who need skin grafts or organ transplants to receive them in the future.
Researchers are currently working on methods of bioprinting organic tissue using stem cells, but there is no guarantee that this innovation will become widely available any time soon.
How can we Overcome the Limitations of 3D Printing?
There are many ways to overcome the limitations of 3D printing technology.
- One way is to improve the accuracy of the printers. This can be done by using better sensors and incorporating feedback mechanisms into the printing process.
- Another way to overcome the limitations of 3D printing is to improve the speed of the printers. This can be done by using more powerful processors and better printing materials.
- On top of that, there are easier methods that include simply updating current technology with newer electronic boards or printers that can offer smoother prints.
- In addition, another way would be upgrading the software so different machines can communicate together where multiple models could be printed at once through one machine.
As you can see, there are a number of limitations to 3D printing technology that businesses need to be aware of before making the switch.
However, with continued research and development, it is likely that these limitations will be overcome in the near future.
In the meantime, businesses can work around many of these issues by using traditional manufacturing methods for certain applications.