• Easier-to-make prototypes: A prototype is an early, working example of a proposed product that is used to test a process or design. In 3-D manufacturing, it is much easier and faster to create prototypes than it is in traditional manufacturing, where considerable time, material, and labor are needed to retool a production line. • Personalization/customization: Products can be designed more easily to match customer preferences regarding size, shape, color, form, or even the entire design. • Production flexibility: Companies can improve products on an ongoing basis based on customer preferences. • Improved time to market: Many 3-D–printed products can be manufactured in less than a day, while traditional manufacturing processes typically take longer. • Manufacturing flexibility: Most large-scale traditional manufacturing occurs in factories, but 3-D products can be made in people’s homes, business offices, laboratories, and even in the field. For example, oil and gas companies are using 3-D printing technology to manufacture replacement parts in remote locations. • Sustainability: Since 3-D printing can be done almost anywhere, there is less need for costly cross-country and international shipping and massive warehouses, which reduces pollution and the burning of fossil fuels . Additionally, most 3-D printing processes create far less material waste than traditional manufacturing processes. • The ability to combine processes to save time and money: In 3-D printing, products with multiple components can be manufactured as one piece in a single production run, unlike in traditional manufacturing. • The democratization of manufacturing: Additive manufacturing allows inventors and entrepreneurs to develop and market products that directly compete with those of traditional manufacturers.

CHAPTER 1: 3-d printing and careers


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