3D printing

The field of Additive Manufacturing is a transformative approach to industrial production that allows the rapid creation of lighter, stronger, and better-quality of spare parts and systems, mainly with the technology known as 3D Printing.

A recent special report of Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) on the 4th industrial revolution, and the need for the country to invest in this sector, makes 3D printing one of the technologies that should receive special attention (and weight). Also, the special report of the European Commission regarding the competitiveness of SMEs in this technology shows the importance given at the European level. The same report shows that the penetration of this particular technology in SE Europe is either small or non-existent.

The term Additive Manufacturing (AM) has been officially defined by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) as the process of combining materials for the construction of objects based on 3D digital models, usually by successive layer depositions, as opposed to classical subtractive manufacturing processes configuration. The technology of Additive Manufacturing is quite different from the classical manufacturing technologies such as machining, casting, and molding.

Additive Manufacturing can be described as a series of computer-automated processes that produce three-dimensional objects by adding successive layers (layer by layer) derived from computational digital design models using various raw materials such as metals, polymers, ceramics, composites, or even biological materials.

The main advantages of AM are focused on the following:

  • On-demand custom component manufacturing
  • No specialized tools are required
  • Reduction of raw material waste
  • Reduction of production time and cost for specialized items and relatively small production lines
  • Create parts with highly complex geometries
  • Flexibility in design and direct production using various computational techniques


What 3D printing can offer to the world

3D printing brought technological revolution to the world and managed to reshape it. The method of 3D printing has greatly affected the production world, with the following effects:

  • In energy use
  • In waste reduction
  • In product customization and availability
  • In medicine
  • In art
  • In manufacturing
  • In science


The four reasons that intrigued us by 3D printing.

There are at least four reasons that have led us to focus on 3D printing. These reasons are:

  1. The development of 3D printing has affected a wide range of production processes and has broaden the way for optimizing and increasing productivity, resulting in economic growth. 3D printing is the “new Industrial Revolution”.
  2. 3D printing allows the efficient use of materials. Through additive manufacturing, objects are made, with the timeless addition of overlapping layers of material (layers). This results in the minimization of surplus material after production.
  3. 3D printers work with lighter materials compared to traditional manufacturing methods. This has as an effect the increase of their effectiveness. To understand the above, it is enough to think about the 3D printing of an aircraft component, which can be 65% lighter than conventional ones and is not inferior to any of them. This contributes to a lower weight of the aircraft, which reduces fuel consumption and carbon emissions.
  4. 3D printing is a promising method in various fields that are still in the early stages of development.


Global market of additive manufacturing

3D printing is a method of additive manufacturing, in the global market of additive manufacturing not even one country in SE Europe is in the top 20 markets as shown in the chart below.


3D Printing Applications

The uses that 3D printing can have are:

  1. Product development
  2. Industrial aids
  3. End-use components
  4. Architecture
  5. Medicine


The five basic applications of 3D printing:

3D printing applications result the improved productivity and the reduced recovery time.

Product development

With the method of additive manufacturing, it is possible to create new products economically, in a short time. Also, iterations, corrections / adjustments of designs can be tried with no extra cost. It only takes a few hours to create a product.

Method benefits:

  • Possibility of 3D printing: series of different ideas and selection of the best idea, during the first stages of design.
  • Dimensional control: 3D printing of a basic / standard model makes it easy to configure the size and overall proportions.
  • Functionality test: with 3D printing, the standard model, can be tested in real conditions.
  • Appearance control: visual appearance can be easily assessed by stakeholders, designers, etc., by the prototype model

Industrial Aids

3D printing enables the production of accessories and other tools in a short time. This results in faster machine settings and a smoother production process.

Method benefits:

  • Better quality assurance, because the quality of the construction components is precisely controlled, with precise measurements.
  • "Custom" tools, through 3D printing, we have tools, with specific specifications and directly.
  • Custom molds and designs, 3D printing can create low-performance injection molds.

End-use components

3D printing can be used to produce small volume end-use components. It is a possibility of 3D printing that offers great flexibility and production of small batches. The main advantage is the immediate creation of the product, because there is room for "on-site printing" and creation of the product while the customer waits.

Method benefits:

  • Creation of cost-effective standard components.
  • Creation of spare parts.
  • Production of small batches, avoiding the risks associated with manufacturing in larger quantities.



3D printing means that early designs can be evaluated, complex ideas can be conveyed, and architectural concepts can be rendered. The construction time of the models is effectively reduced, even in complex geometries.

Method benefits:

  • Easy production of models, which can be quickly printed and determine the construction of the project in the early stages.
  • Mass studies in stages, starting from the frame of the building and then adding to the model, modular 3D printed parts.
  • 3D printed designs on a scale result in impressive presentations.
  • Ability to create a general plan, with precise details.


3D printing in medicine enables specialists to carry patients' scans, identifying the exact needs before performing the surgical procedure. This results in less time in the operating room, therefore less time under anesthesia and reduced costs associated with the operation.

Method benefits:

  • Improved surgical planning, as surgeons can be better prepared before surgery.
  • Better communication with the patient and understanding of his condition. With the 3D model better explanations can be given, the patient sees and touches.
  • Medical tools can be printed easily and quickly.
  • Effective clinical training, 3D printing models help future doctors to understand better the anatomy and procedure of surgical procedures.


3D printing has gained ground in the medical / pharmaceutical industry, based on its two (2) main advantages:

  • the ease of construction of detailed structures,
  • possibility of producing them on demand

The most important part of the method is that there is flexibility in choosing the amount of active substance contained in a drug, even if it is infinitesimal, to suit the needs of each patient. The basic mechanism by which this is made possible, is by loading the active substance into the material to be printed.



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