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DW: Printing out the world

16/09/2020
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Three-dimensional printing promises new opportunities for more sustainable and local production. But does 3D printing make everything better?

This film shows how innovation can change the world of goods. Is the way we make things about to become the next revolution? Traditional manufacturing techniques like milling, casting and gluing could soon be replaced by 3D printing -saving enormous amounts of material and energy. Aircraft maker Airbus is already benefiting from the new manufacturing method. Beginning this year, the A350 airliner will fly with printed door locking shafts. Where previously ten parts had to be installed, today that’s down to just one. It saves a lot of manufacturing steps. And 3D printing can imitate nature’s efficient construction processes, something barely possible in conventional manufacturing. Another benefit of the new technology is that components can become significantly lighter and more robust, and material can be saved during production. But the Airbus development team is not yet satisfied. The printed cabin partition in the A350 has become 45 percent lighter thanks to the new structure, but it is complex and expensive to manufacture. It takes 900 hours to print just one partition, a problem that print manufacturers have not yet been able to solve. The technology is already being used in Adidas shoes: The sportswear company says it is currently the world’s largest manufacturer of 3D-printed components. The next step is sustainable materials, such as biological synthetic resins that do not use petroleum and can be liquefied again without loss of quality and are therefore completely recyclable. This documentary sheds light on the diverse uses of 3D printing.

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