The plastic and rubber fabrication industry is at a crossroads. The demand for custom sized and shaped plastic and rubber is incredibly strong, but the shift from traditional fabrication methods to newer technologies such as 3D printing is leading many manufacturers into a situation where they will have to make some hard choices on how the will advance into the future. They must not only plan for the future but also maintain smooth supply lines today in order to keep their customers’ needs met.
Most people agree that 3D printing is going to have an incredible impact in the world of industry and manufacturing. Some questions however are when will that time arrive, and when it does will it destroy traditional methods? Currently the scale at which traditional methods can produce product is one of its benefits. Also, it is much more versatile in regards to materials that can be fabricated into customized products. A further benefit is that while making rubber and plastic items that are bound to other materials, like how the rubber and metal are bound together during the manufacturing process of vee packing rubber seals.
Something that 3D printing has on its side though is the lack of initial investment needed to produce custom molds for each new product or size. Once the designer has created the blueprint with whatever 3D printing software that is required, it’s much cheaper and easier to maintain, modify, and use. When working with a product that has a wide range of sizes, this is extremely useful and cost efficient.
While 3D printing is only in its infancy, it has already started to works its way into custom plastic and rubber fabrication services. It’s functionality and cost efficiency is something that traditional fabrication will have a hard time competing with, especially as the technology grows and evolves. It’s safe to say, 3D printing is here to stay. How it changes the rubber and plastic industry however is yet to be determined.