If you’ve been paying attention to news from the tech world over the last several years, you’ve probably seen 3D printing billed as the manufacturing technology of the future. The fact is, however, businesses that drive the global economy are already utilizing 3D printing. Here are three major companies that are already putting 3D printing to use in their everyday operations.
Thanks to the high-tech requirements of the continuously evolving oil and gas business, Royal Dutch Shell is one of the most prominent commercial adopters of 3D printing. Shell uses the technology to produce intricate metal parts. Shell uses these parts, such as metal connectors, for drilling and refinery operations. In many cases, these parts would be prohibitively expensive to make using more traditional manufacturing methods. With metal 3D printing technology, though, Shell creates new and better parts with relative ease and at reasonable costs.
3D-printed metal parts aren’t just being used for pumping and refining oil; they’re also finding their way onto airplanes, thanks to the Boeing corporation. Boeing is currently in the process of reducing the production costs of its notable 787 passenger aircraft. Boeing 3D prints titanium stress-bearing parts, a first in the aviation industry. Thanks to the ability to print structural parts, Boeing expects to save $2-3 million per plane.
Of the many brands currently using 3D printing, perhaps none has more day-to-day name recognition than America’s Ford Motor Company. 3D printing is used extensively during the prototyping process at Ford with more than 100,000 prototype parts are printed each year. Ford has even begun to make the pivot toward printing actual production parts as well. In March of 2017, the company announced that it was experimenting with 3D printing production spoilers with the possibility for printing more complex parts in the near future.
Major Companies and Students
These are just a few of the many companies that are using 3D printing in their business operations. The fact that such large names across different industries are adopting this technology also illustrates why students need to learn about 3D printing in their classrooms. Through the use of classroom printers like those offered by Me3D, students can learn about the technology that will define the future of manufacturing.