3D Printing has been hyped for a long time as a game-changing manufacturing method. But its use is still limited mainly to the production of prototype parts. Using the technology for large-scale commercial manufacturing has proven difficult due to limitations of the physical properties (mostly strength) of the materials suitable to be 3D printed.
It seems that 3D printing as a mass-manufacturing method is still a ways off. But one new development might move its actuality a bit closer.
Rotational 3D printing uses a deposition head that spins. The rotation allows fibers in the 3D printing “ink” to orient in ways that provide strengthening characteristics, much the same as fiber-filled plastic resins obtain increased strength. Significantly though, the spin and movement of the deposition head can be controlled such that fibers can orient in different ways, providing different strength and structural properties in different areas of a single part. That could offer significant advantages for medical device design.