Things change. It’s that simple. Still, it is also important to note when they don’t change, and why. Machine tools and machine tool services are just a few professional areas remaining more or less the same, and with good reason. According to the MIT Technology Review, a new 3-D printing and plastics manufacturing technology being shaped by U.K. professor Neil Hopkinson, while interesting, is not about to transform or replace good old fashioned machine tooling and machine tool services.
The Reasons 3-D Printing Falls Short
It may be the “next big thing” and a lot of people are talking about it, but the fact remains that 3-D printing cannot accomplish anything and everything — and assuming that it can may easily result in faulty equipment and materials. It is not, for instance, a valid substitute for precise processes involved in machining services. “A lot of work is still needed to develop materials that can work with the process if the goal is to compete with injection molding,” the MIT Technology Review writes. “The range of polymers that work with high-speed sintering [Hopkinson’s 3-D printing-based technology] is limited compared with that of injection molding.” There are several polymers and materials that simply do not work with the new process, the publication continues.
The Benefits Of Tried-And-True Machine Tool Services
Machine tools, machining techniques, and precision machine shops have been around for a very long time. In fact, handcrafted lathes and bow drills date back as far as 1,200 B.C.! Lathes can be used to create a wide variety of materials, all with very precise shapes, designs, and etchings — things like gun barrels, candlesticks, and musical instruments. Whereas traditional machine tooling, such as utilizing a lathe or the process of injection molding, can easily work with and shape plenty of metals and plastics, 3-D printing does not offer that same versatility and advantage.
Although useful — and most certainly interesting — 3-D printing is not the solution to everything. Traditional machine tools offer greater flexibility and dependability than 3-D printing manufacturing alternatives.