Why is 3D Printing appealing to engineering? Here, we’re going to discuss 3D printing as it pertains to engineering or design. It’s a very interesting approach. Why would such a manufacturing method, if you used it, make an impact on design?

3D printing is appealing because if you look at traditional manufacturing methods in machining, or in tooling and molding, there are a lot of geometric constraints placed on the design. For example, you can’t have overhangs or undercuts. If you do, you’ll have to move from three-axis to five-axis machining. There’s certainly a level of complexity associated with such traditional manufacturing approaches.

When you contrast traditional approaches with 3D printing, the printing offers far more flexibility. In fact, you can do things with 3D printing that you can’t do with traditional methods at all, such as including voids in the middle of parts. You can include complex lattice structures that would be very difficult to machine otherwise. And a lot of those undercuts we mentioned earlier? You don’t really have to worry about that with 3D printing.

That’s the appeal of this new technology. It allows engineers to have a little more geometric freedom with their designs. But of course, there are also constraints with 3D printing. You must have support structures, and take shrinkage and warpage into account since the materials cool during the printing process. There is definitely a bit more freedom here than with traditional technologies, but some constraints remain.