Innovating with 3D Printing @ NATO ACT Innovation Hub

Out of curiosity and insights, an intern from Germany at the NATO Innovative Hub decided to check out 3D printers. 

To be honest, it’s no secret that the manufacturing industry is undergoing a massive change as 3D printing elevates manufacturers’ imaginations whilst bringing other creative minds up to speed.  There’s no doubt that this is an emerging groundbreaking innovation, because it revolutionizes numerous industries – from healthcare to automobiles to aerospace to education and other businesses within the manufacturing industry space.  This is really fascinating as it diligently transforms digital designs into palpable objects with unprecedented precision and efficiency… one superfine layer at a time.

The merits of 3D printing are multifarious, and as time goes by it’s becoming more and more available to the public and affordable to purchase/manage for individuals and businesses anywhere anytime.  Mass production is now cost effective and bespoke products can reach niche markets faster than ever before.  For example, in 2018 a low-gravity 3D printer was used on the ISS to print the first customized tool, enabling the crew to access the tools they needed for maintenance fast.

Elegantly, 3D printing has put additive manufacturing on the map, not only because it allows the creation of detailed and complex designs that were once thought unachievable with its extraordinary precision and customization capabilities, but also because of its ability to optimize resources and reduce waste.  As opposed to the other manufacturing methods like Computer Numerical Control (CNC) milling (also known as subtractive manufacturing) with poor precision which often results in waste of materials.   On the other hand, 3D printing offers significant sustainability benefits and its production is efficient. Recycling (including plastic filament) and eco-friendlier manufacturing process becomes a standard. The concept of 3D printing already adopts an agile methodology as engineers and designers can quickly bring their concepts to life, test them and make necessary adjustments. This streamlined process expedites innovation, reduces time-to-market and enhances the overall quality of the product.

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