Is it time to join the 3D printing bandwagon?

Is it time to join the 3D printing bandwagon?

“If you are not using 3D printing for rapid prototyping in manufacturing now, you are making a mistake,” says Gideon Levy, a world expert on additive manufacturing who visited the University of Auckland last week.

Levy spoke to a packed lecture theatre of about 280 people, including representatives from the manufacturing industry.

According to the expert, additive manufacturing technologies such as 3D printing are the next major movement in manufacturing since the digital revolution and New Zealand businesses stand to win a lot from it, as new opportunities across all industries continue to arise.

“These technologies are good for New Zealand's small volume, high complexity product manufacturing and open up huge potential with almost unlimited design freedom”, he says.

Levy warns New Zealand businesses to join the movement before they are left behind. “Industry uptake of this technology for direct manufacture was limited until recently.  Now it is taking off around the world.”

He says the value chain in product creation spans concept modelling, rapid prototyping, pre-series bridging, and conformal cooling to additive manufacturing.

“In a few years it is estimated that 50% of all complex parts will be made using additive manufacturing,” he said.  “It is a very agile and innovative technology, and in five years we expect it will be state of the art, and we will also have commercialized 3D bio-printing.”

“Today’s interest is high in additive manufacturing, especially for the manufacture of real parts which are going direct to the final product and to the final customer.”

“With additive manufacturing, the sky is the limit,” he adds.