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What Can You Do With a Professional 3D Printer, and Why?

Due to developments in additive manufacturing (AM) technology within the last decade, today’s professional 3D printers are used for much more than creative hobbies and rapid prototyping.

Did you know that a 3D printer no larger than a desktop home aquarium can print plastic parts strong enough to be used as functional components on race cars? Today, professional 3D printers are trusted to build parts for many high-risk, safety-critical applications: such as taking flight aboard aircraft and carrying loads up to 960 kg (2116.44 lbs.) in factories.

New part strength and other technological improvements in the 3D printing space have opened up many incredible new uses for today’s professional 3D printers. So, what are today’s 3D printers capable of — and what technology enables these new capabilities?

What can you do with a professional 3D printer? Being able to print strong parts at the point of need — and with the right material properties — opens up a lot of possibilities for how manufacturers can leverage 3D printing:

In the factory. A professional 3D printer can be used to quickly and cheaply build tooling, build components for industrial machinery, or swiftly fabricate replacement parts where needed.

Aircraft parts. Strong, light, flame-retardant AM materials engineered specifically for demanding aerospace applications are available.

Robotics. AM is ideal for the manufacture and maintenance of robotics systems.

Automotive. Race car teams are using additive manufacturing to quickly build end-use car parts that are strong, lightweight and heat-resistant to maximize performance.

Production parts: Manufacturers might also use 3D printers to fabricate parts with complex geometries, bespoke end-use parts, or for more cost-efficient low-volume production runs.

Supply chain control. Having access to in-house AM allows manufacturers to rethink their supply chains with less risk.

What powers today’s professional 3D printers? Until the last five years or so, even top-of-the-line professional 3D printers were relegated to rapid prototyping and little else. These six key advancements to AM technology have made 3D printing a suitable means for manufacturing strong, end-use parts at the precise time and point of need: Power, speed, size, reliability. User-friendliness. Innovative materials. Metal FFF. Industry 4.0 Connectivity. 3D printing Software Integrations. 

What makes today’s 3D printed plastics so strong and versatile? Today’s professional 3D printers fabricate high-performance plastic parts through building strong composite materials that incorporate continuous fibers for strength, durability, and material property benefits.

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