Three-dimensional printing is gaining in popularity throughout the industrial and manufacturing sectors. Many people may wonder whether the ability to design and produce a physical product using a 3D printer will render industrial engineers obsolete.
The fact of the matter is that industrial engineering remains an integral part of any manufacturing process, whether 3D printing is in use or not.
1. Ergonomic Expertise
Modern products must be ergonomic to protect consumers against potential injuries. While a 3D printer can create almost any item, it does not have the training and experience needed to identify an ergonomic design. Industrial engineers can bring their ergonomic expertise to the table when it comes to the design of a new product. This expertise can be combined with the convenience of 3D printing to generate a product that is both economical and comfortable for the consumer to use.
2. Economies of Scale
While modern manufacturers can print anything using a 3D printer, it's not always feasible to use 3D printing as a primary manufacturing tool.
Mass production will always be used to help keep the cost of products as low as possible. This is referred to as an economy of scale.
Industrial engineers play an integral role in helping to manage economies of scale. The design expertise and understanding of logistics that an industrial engineer possesses can be utilized to streamline mass production and make each manufacturing run more profitable.
Product and process modeling are important aspects of the manufacturing process. It's important that manufacturers are able to simulate various scenarios in order to estimate potential outcomes. Product and process modeling cannot be achieved through the use of a 3D printer.
Only industrial engineers with an understanding of the design, manufacturing, shipping, and end-use of a product are capable of producing accurate models. These models are then used as the basis for important decisions made by manufacturing facilities.
Since the decisions made in response to product and process modeling could have a significant impact on the profitability of a manufacturing plant, skilled industrial engineers will always be called on to create these models.
Although 3D printing is changing the way that prototypes and customized products are created, industrial engineering services will remain an integral part of the manufacturing process.
Only an industrial engineer can use ergonomic expertise, a knowledge of economies of scale, and reliable models to help direct manufacturing activities over time. Contact an engineering firm like East Coast Engineering Inc to learn more.