How 3D Printing is Being Used to Create Consumer Goods

The applications for 3D printing are growing daily. In some instances, 3D is taking over the manufacturing of consumer goods and replacing more traditional methods. Brand new items can be designed from scratch. 

3D technology works on the principles of additive manufacturing. The ‘rapid prototyping’ process is used and provides an immense benefit in terms of the time taken to get the design developed. In many cases, the actual production can be completed in a single night. 

Below we look at some of the consumer goods that are being created by 3D printing.

Bicycle Frames

Carbon fiber is sometimes used in the construction of bicycle frames. This substance is lighter, tougher, and more durable than the metal frames usually manufactured. More bikes would be made this way, were it not for the prohibitive cost and high labor requirement. 

One Silicon Valley company has found a way to overcome these restrictions using a patented process for 3D printing. This business can construct a bicycle frame in one complete piece. While a normal bike frame costs somewhere between one and two thousand dollars, their frame only costs $300. 

Cosmetic Tools

It took a decade for Chanel to design the perfect mascara brush using selective laser sintering (SLS) 3D. This new design came onto the market in 2018. Chanel can produce 50,000 items at a price of $35 daily.

Rapid PSI Selective Laser Sintering

Rapid PSI selective laser sintering (SLS) 3D is not only used in the cosmetic industry. Using a high-energy laser to create a solid article from polymer powder, Rapid PSI creates products for manufacturers and engineers. This may be a car part, a fitting for an appliance, or any number of things. Here are some examples:

  • General Items: production parts and prototypes, car design, items with living hinges and those with snap fits.
  • Production Items: Plastic items of great complexity, end-use components for the short run, etc. 
  • Tooling (e.g., dies) and patterns. 
  • Casting patterns.
  • Tools, fixtures, and jigs.
  • Rapid Manufacturing: Medical and healthcare, aerospace hardware. 
  • Custom manufacturing.

The market was limited for decades to high-income, high-tech industries. But with the ability to make items in bulk, many small businesses are turning to suppliers nowadays, and paying reasonable prices.

Shoe Insoles

A footwear brand and a technology company, Dr. Scholl’s, and Wiivv, respectively, have joined forces to create shoe insoles that fit perfectly. Customers load photos of their feet from multiple angles. This data is used to map 400 points for the insole design of each foot in only five minutes. The process occurs online, and the 3D printed insoles are delivered to customers for less than $100. Customers can have customized designs etched onto the insoles. There is nothing new or surprising about this as 3D shoe printing has been going on for a while. The future may see all shoes being printed using 3D technology.

3D is an advancing technology, and we can expect many new products in the coming decades.

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