3D Printers: Supporting Our Lives from Infrastructure to Medical Care

[Publisher] ORIX Group | Reproduced from the shareholder notice “Alive,” No.59

How will 3D printers change the world of manufacturing and our lives in general? These devices can create 3D objects from data in short periods of time. We sat down to talk with 3D printer manufacturer Stratasys Japan Co., Ltd., a business partner of ORIX Rentec Corporation to examine a couple of applications of this new and growing technology.

Giving shape to ideas with 3D printers

In conventional manufacturing, it is necessary to create a mold in order to make new products. However, with 3D printers, things can be manufactured directly from 3D data, meaning ideas can take shape immediately. As 3D printers can reduce production time and thus cut costs, they will become more common for use at manufacturing sites with labor shortage issues and by start-up companies with limited resources. They can be used to produce a wide range of items but are particularly useful for manufacturing products produced in small quantities but that undergo many minor changes.

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The bumper part of a railroad car is made in three parts so it can be printed using a 3D printer. It is possible to replace only one part in the event of a diagonal collision.

Supporting transportation infrastructure through parts manufacturing

3D printers are used, for example, in parts manufacturing for railroad cars. Railroad cars are used for long periods of time and parts may be damaged in collisions and continued use during operation. As they play a major role in transportation infrastructure, railroad companies must be prepared for these unforeseen circumstances by maintaining a constant inventory of parts and having a system in place to quickly produce parts when inventory runs out. It used to take seven to eight weeks to produce parts at one railroad company, but with the introduction of 3D printers, parts can be produced within just a few days of receiving an order, reducing the inventory management burden on the railroad company. 3D printers also make it simple to create customized parts for different railroad companies.

High expectations for use in the fields of medical care and dentistry

There are also high expectations for the use of 3D printers in fields closer to our daily lives, such as medical care and dentistry. For example, 3D printed models based on a scan from a patient can accurately reproduce the affected area, which can be used before surgery to effectively plan treatment approaches. Even small dental clinics should be able to use 3D printers to quickly create dental instruments which meet patient needs based on oral scans. The popularization of 3D printers is creating endless new possibilities in the world of manufacturing and our lifestyles.

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(Left) The model of an organ for surgical simulation made using a 3D printer (Right) The model of a mouth for dentistry made using a 3D printer

About Stratasys

Stratasys, with headquarters in the U.S. and Israel, is a company that manufactures and sells 3D printers and material used in 3D printing globally. Since inventing one of the world’s first technologies used in 3D printing nearly 30 years ago, they have been supporting product development in a variety of industries, including aerospace, automotive and health care. Stratasys Japan Co., Ltd. is the Japanese subsidiary of Stratasys Ltd.


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