The process of making models is much different than it used to be. People used to have to manually create these models that were representations of whatever larger project they were trying to undertake. However, nowadays 3D printing can be utilized to create models in a fraction of the time that it used to take. That’s precisely what Boeing has done.
Specifically, the Boeing Immersive Development Team is using 3D printers to create models of various airplanes they want to make. It’s like a three-dimensional photocopy, if you will. Once the initial design of the plane has been created on the computer, it’s then printed out in layers using a special powder. Each layer stacks on top of the next until a three-dimensional object has been created. Most recently, Boeing used this technology to create a concept jet fighter.
The ability to create rapid prototypes is key for employee productivity and creativity. Designers and engineers can immediately see if their designs will work or not by getting a three-dimensional, tangible object to evaluate. Better yet, the process only takes about an hour so the company will save a considerable amount of time and the designers will know right away if their plans will work or not.
This way, employees don’t waste time on designs that just won’t work and will know right away if you design is effective or not. Plus, creating models isn’t all 3D printing can be used for. In fact, Boeing used 3D prototyping to make replacement parts and models that could fix issues on the spot. There was no need to wait to order parts for replacement. They were able to create a solution immediately and fix whatever was wrong so productivity could continue. They did this most recently on a current production line. And according to Boeing, this single use of this Zprint made it so the printer paid for itself in just one day.
Now, you might think that these prototypes would be boring or bland to look at but this simply isn’t the case. They can be designed to include colors, even. Once the prototype is created, a technician just has to dust off the powder and then pour solution over it to bring out the colors. These models are truly complete and make the benefits of 3D printing so apparent they can’t be denied.