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Why Open-source 3D Printing Is The New Norm

Why Open-source 3D Printing Is The New Norm

Open systems are the future. The open concept will enable the pioneering of new applications and solutions in the aerospace industry and more. Article by MahaChem. 

For decades, most 3D printers adopt a closed system—where the user is restricted to the manufacturer’s resins. Economically, this means that chances are, the material is costlier as the manufacturer has the bargaining power over the user, who is restricted to their material offerings. For the same reason, it could also mean that users are unable to create something that is eco-friendly, unless the material is certified to be so. 

But most importantly, this limits the creativity of the individual to come up with a product with the best design paired with the ideal material. Of course, closed source printers aren’t all that bad, they ensure that the quality of the end product is up to standard, by ensuring that their materials are of quality.

However, with the invention of the open-source 3D printing technology, the woes of product designers have been resolved. The designer now has the power to choose any material from any supplier based on their personal preferences. Want a cheaper material? Find an economical supplier. Want an environmentally friendly product? Find a supplier with green or eco-friendly resins or filament. Want a malleable product? Find a soft polymer supplier. 

All in all, this means that designers are free to create whatever they have in their imagination. This has become a new norm over the years as more and more designers search for alternatives from closed-source printers to bring their imagination to life. As such, over the years there has been a surge in open-sourced 3D printers, particularly desktop ones, to meet the needs of the users.

Why is it Important for the Aerospace Industry?

3D printing has become especially important in the aerospace industry to address challenges like production time, cost of production and carbon emission. For example, it can produce lighter parts while maintaining strength, which reduces the aircraft’s overall weight, hence lowering its fuel consumption. This in turn, cuts operational costs and lowers carbon dioxide emission. Here are other benefits of 3D printing for the aerospace industry: 

Precision 

Surface finishing is critical in the aerospace industry. 3D printing parts can be post-processed to a very high precision. Technologies like Material Jetting are able to produce parts with smooth, injection moulding like surface finishing with little post processing needed. While Selective Laser Melting (SLM) is able to produce high performance metal parts. 

Materials That Are Licensed 

Currently, there are many qualified materials used in producing parts in the aerospace industries, depending on the technology. In SLM, Aluminium or Titanium are mainly used. Examples of parts printing with SLM are the suspension wishbone and the Jet engine. While in Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), Nylon is the preferred material. Examples of parts printed with SLS include Air flow ducting and Tarmac nozzle bezel. Other technologies include Stereolithography (SLA) and Material Jetting, which uses Resin to produce parts such as Entry doors, brackets, and door handles.

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