The manufacturing technology known as 3D printing allows the physical object creation from digital designs by layering materials one by one until the final shape is attained. Several types of 3D printing technologies as per their strength and weakness are used for the particular task. 3D printing is the best way to enable customization by enabling cost and time-saving methods.
The leading companies are: –
- General Electric – About US$1.5 billion is invested in 3D printing technologies during the period 2010-2016 for using it in many of its businesses such as jet engines, medical devices, and home appliance parts. GEnx jet engine is one example, manufactured with direct metal laser melting.
- Lockheed Martin- 3D printing technologies have been used for several components in A2100 satellite buses. The technology was also used to build a remote interface unit for its next Air Force Advanced Extremely High-Frequency satellite, AEHF-6. The company is not just limited to satellites but also manufacturing rocket parts.
- Ford- Since the 1980s, the company has been using 3D printing technology and is now testing it on large-scale car parts like spoilers using the Stratasys Infinite Build 3D printer. The company is also expanding the applications in various ways such as in Ford products and customized car parts.
- Boeing- 3D printing technology has been used in the company’s Dreamliner 787 commercial aircraft for flying parts which was around US$2 million-US$3 million on each plane. 600 3D-printed parts have been developed by Oxford Performance Materials for its Starliner space taxis in the U.S. manned space program.
- Hershey’s- The company partnered with 3D Systems for 3D printers to provide chocolate and other edible products. The company’s CocoJet 3D printer makes chocolate designs as per the consumer’s needs.
- Nike- 3D printing and Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) managed Nike to reduce the time for making prototypes from months to a few hours. The technology used in different models in custom track spikes is sprinter Allyson Felix, the Vapor Laser Talon, and the Vapor HyperAgility. It is also used in making a ‘cooling hood’ to cool down the athlete and the Football Rebento duffle bag. Nike also partnered with IT company HP in May 2016 for its existing 3D printing capabilities.