For over a century, polymers have been used in the manufacturing process to produce parts via injection moulding and 3D printing. From the initial injection moulding machines through to modern day 3D printing, the concepts have continued to progress throughout the decades to enable industries all over the world to drive production.
Since 1872, injection moulding has been used to mass manufacture a wide range of products, using a version of polymers that were specifically invented for use in the initial injection moulding machines, some of which are still in use today.
Fast forward to 1980 and Hideo Kodama filed the first 3D printing patent. His patent described a rapid prototyping system that used UV light to harden photopolymers. However, Hideo’s idea was largely overlooked, and it took until Chuck Hull patented his version 4 years later, for the real birth of 3D printing as we know it.
3D printing has initially struggled to replace injection moulding as the method of choice for manufacturers well versed with the traditional methods, until now that is! Now large scale 3D Printing farms, such as Slant 3D, are able to match injection molding on cost, speed, and scale.
To understand how 3D printing can enable mass manufacturing rather than injection moulding, it is important to understand them both and how they compare against each other.
What is injection molding (IM)?
Not long after the Industrial Revolution, American inventors John Hyatt and his brother Isaiah, enhanced the efficiency of mass production by conceptualising injection moulding. The machine used a plunger to inject melted plastic into a mould and enabled the first major manufacturing process in plastics engineering technology.
Products such as buttons and hair combs were some of the first to benefit from the birth of IM. As the technology continued to evolve, more and more industries began to benefit from it, and is still used for mass-manufacturing today.
What is 3D printing and how is it used in additive manufacturing?
In simple terms, 3D printing is the process of creating a three-dimensional solid object from a digital file.
When Photocentric began their journey in 2002, 3D printing was not at all ideal for mass manufacturing, it was expensive and proprietary, and it would take another decade before 3D printing would start to enter mainstream additive manufacturing.
Early patents started expiring and 3D printing innovation began to revolutionise manufacturing processes. At Slant 3D we have been able to develop fleets of 3D Printers are that are able to work together to reliable product 100,00's of parts at a at a time.
Examples of 3D printed products
Slant 3D's production 3D Printing Farms have enabled manufacturers from a variety of industries to deliver a wide range of 3D printed products to market, including toys, medical devices, automotive parts, PPE, stationery, industrial spare parts, figurines and many more.
As we have a team of in-house engineers, and research developers we are able to produce machines and materials to suit the requirements of numerous industrial challenges.
From prototyping to performance, Slant 3D has access to polymers to produce perfect results.
3D printing materials
Slant 3D has souced and created range of materials to suit different requirements, from flexible to castable, we have engineered materials to match the requirements of the market.
Our range covers industries such as ESD safe, aerospace, automotive, industrial, fashion and more. Each material has a unique quality, making it ideal for the individual industry.
Textures and finishes
Early 3D prints were lacking in the quality finish that was required to compete with injection moulding. However, working with software specialists, we have changed the face of additive and now offer the ability to apply almost any surface finish to a part
Enabling manufacturers to upload their own logos, textures and customer-ready finishes. The solution also offers access to more than 5,000 different texture surface structures – truly revolutionising part design and production!
Why choose 3D Printing over injection molding?
Cost comparisons between 3D printing and Injection Molding!