What are the disadvantages of 3D printing?


3D printing is a technology with multiple advantages. 3D printing has made the prototyping and manufacturing of many components faster and more efficient. Despite the many advantages of 3D printing, the technology has several disadvantages. The disadvantages of 3D printing technology are:

  1. Low energy efficiency: 3D printing is an operation that requires a lot of energy. There are radiators. Lasers and many motors must be operated with great precision to obtain accurate prints. All of these components are controlled by a processing unit and there is often a lot of heat generated, which needs to be controlled by a cooling unit or fans. When fusing plastic with heat or lasers, 3D printers use 50 to 100 times more energy than injection molding, according to research from Loughborough University. Direct metal deposition using lasers consumes 100 times more electrical energy than conventional production, according to a 2009 study by The Environmentally Benign Manufacture, a research team dedicated to examining the environmental effects associated with manufacturing products. . 3D printers are energy-intensive for bulk manufacturing and are better suited for small runs.
  2. High initial investment and costly operation: The price of 3D printing machines and materials makes the technology expensive. The cost of purchasing and installing an industrial-grade 3D printer is still in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, which makes the initial costs of using the technology very high. Capital expenditures for a single machine start with tens of thousands of dollars and can reach hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. Additionally, compared to product materials used in conventional production, materials used in commercial-grade 3D printers are more expensive. Unless the owner of a 3D printer markets their prints, it becomes a financial burden for them.
  3. Toxic emissions: According to experts at the Illinois Institute of Technology, 3D printers used in confined spaces, such as homes, can produce potentially harmful fumes and carcinogenic particles. Their 2013 study found that when printing 3D objects, desktop computers can release significant amounts of ultrafine particles and potentially harmful volatile organic chemicals. With PLA filament, the printers produced 20 billion ultrafine particles per minute, while ABS produced up to 200 billion particles per minute. The radiation emitted resembles cigarette smoke and can enter the bloodstream or lungs, increasing the risk of cancer and other diseases.
  4. Limited materials: Materials that can be 3D printed are currently limited, with the majority of materials being thermoset or thermoplastic polymers or photoresists. Plastic is preferred because it can be quickly and efficiently melted into the desired shape. The strength capacity of plastic can vary, so it may not be ideal for all components. Metal is a material that several companies supply, although the final parts are often not completely dense. Although not yet commercially available, other specialized materials such as glass and gold are used. Metals can also be used for 3D printing but this application of the technology is limited by the energy requirements and therefore the costs involved. More advanced uses of 3D printing such as 3D printing of human organs are still under development and will take several years to come to market.
  5. Equipment is not user friendly: 3D printers are complicated machines and users need to be well aware of several aspects to ensure that their prints come out well. Temperatures required, software expertise, knowledge of the material used for printing, post-processing treatments are just some of the things users need to know before using a 3D printer. Once a person starts using a 3D printer, they will realize that 3D printing is not limited to what they read in online articles or what they learned in online tutorials. line. 3D printing expertise only comes with practice. 3D design is also an important part of 3D printing, learning 3D design is also a complex process and requires constant time, effort and practice. However, learning 3D printing can be made easier with the help of a 3D modeling tool like SelfCAD which offers interactive tutorials to help users of any skill level learn and learn printing. 3D.
  6. Dependent on toxic materials or non-biodegradable materials: 3D printing is achieved either by adding multiple layers of photoresists on top of each other or by extruding molten polymers in multiple layers to ultimately form a 3D structure. The downside is that most of these resins are toxic and have negative impacts such as carcinogenic effects on human beings. Extruded polymers in the case of 3D printing methods such as FDM are toxic in their molten form and even produce toxic fumes. Once hardened, they might not be biodegradable and will take many years to break down and eventually pollute the planet. Further research is needed to make 3D printing possible and financially feasible with a safer and biodegradable material.
  7. 3D printing is a slow process: Although the possibilities for mass customization with 3D printers are endless, they are slow when it comes to mass producing many products. Printing can take several hours to several days, depending on the size and quality of the printer. The slower the printers, the greater the product development work. Depending on the materials used, it can take companies up to several weeks to create and produce 3D prints using a variety of items.
  8. Final product size: The size of the printer itself determines the types of parts it can print. Commercially available and reasonably priced 3D printers often have chamber sizes small enough to be transported and easily fit on a desk. Usually the larger versions are quite expensive as they can print larger forms and parts. Based on existing technology, printing massive parts can also take time.
  9. Accuracy of prints: Currently, the majority of things produced using 3D printing technology are prototypes and test pieces. Dimensions need to be accurate to a degree not yet possible with the most advanced technologies for engineers to validate whether the prototype or test piece is practical or not. Despite recent developments, the majority of 3D printing materials still require a disclaimer for accuracy levels; there is often a margin of error of around 0.1 millimeters, which in many areas of engineering is a fatal error.
  10. Disruptive technology that can kill jobs: By changing product development, 3D printing has disrupted markets. 3D printing, also called additive manufacturing, is the process of connecting materials layer by layer to create objects from a 3D digital model. Unlike subtractive manufacturing (conventional manufacturing), which involves removing unwanted components from large chunks of solid material, this is different. The creation of complex structural components is facilitated by the 3D printing technique, which removes many steps used in conventional manufacturing. The fields of rapid prototyping and tool development have seen great success with these capabilities. So it does not require much labor expenditure. Therefore, the use of 3D printing can result in less manufacturing work. The reduction in manufacturing jobs could have a significant impact on the economy of countries that rely heavily on low-skilled jobs. Robotics will likely have a much bigger influence in this regard.
  11. Copyright infringement and counterfeiting: One of the biggest disadvantages of 3D printing is counterfeiting. Anyone who has a product blueprint can quickly forge products. Patent infringements will increase in frequency, making it almost difficult to detect counterfeit goods. Patent and copyright holders will find it harder to enforce their rights as 3D printing technology develops, and companies that make unique products will be affected. Other illegal activities such as currency counterfeiting by 3D printing the currency molds are easily possible. With image-based measurement tools, keys can be 3D printed, leading to theft.
  12. Manufacture of dangerous weapons: Knives, weapons, explosives and other deadly objects can all be easily made in three dimensions using 3D printers. Thus, the manufacture of such weapons allows criminals and terrorists to operate undetected. ATM card readers have already been produced by some criminal organizations using 3D printing technology. As 3D technology advances, it will likely become more affordable and user-friendly, potentially increasing the design and manufacture of unauthorized weapons.


In conclusion, 3D printing has several disadvantages despite the multiple advantages of this technology. The main disadvantages of 3D printing lie in the areas of cost, energy requirements, scale, speed and precision of operations. More disadvantages of 3D printing can be found in areas such as counterfeiting, illegal activities and the production of dangerous weapons as there are no regulations or controls for the purchase of 3D printers . 3D printing is also a disruptive technology that is making several human jobs obsolete and occupying several jobs in manufacturing and even entertainment. Despite these drawbacks, 3D printing has several positive uses and 3D design is an important skill to get the most out of 3D printing. Learn 3D design quickly with interactive SelfCAD tutorials.


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