The layer-by-layer build process of most 3D printing systems gives designers quite a bit of design freedom. For example, designers can embed components in a design, take advantage of anisotropic properties, work with interesting, unusual materials, manage shock, create parts with variable stiffness, develop parts with predictable degeneration and absorption, include traceability features, program shape-changing features, work with hydrophobic and hydrophilic properties, and integrate mechanisms and actuators. Here’s a look at each of these options.
Embed components in a design:
The layer-by-layer approach of 3D printing means that designers can take advantage of voids, or hollowed-out areas. These areas can easily be programmed and built and can be used to house a variety of components, including electronic sensors or other types of sensors, or printed circuit boards, wires, batteries, small motors, and so on. These components can be added in the manufacturing stage, resulting in fewer assembly steps and a more useful part.