Since the beginning of mankind, people have been developing solutions in order to create a better life. Human beings knew how to upgrade life activities by developing survival tools on a daily basis. Hunting, lighting fires, inventing the wheel, the printing press, the steam engine, cellular phones and much more. Nowadays, we have accessibility to digital tools (software and hardware) which allow us to develop and create almost everything by ourselves.
Our inner need to create automation of process provides very important fuel for exponential development of the technology. Often, the rapid evolution of technology is faster than human adoption ability. Connection of machines and tools to the internet has become the norm. Solutions for smart homes and cities have become common and can be widely seen.
In the past, we didn’t have the ability to schedule or control machines remotely for daily activities. For example, if we wanted to turn on the water heater, we had to plan it and schedule it only when inside the apartment. Even if we had a timer, we still needed to set it. Nowadays, we can control almost every machine remotely. Verify the ambient apartment temperature, turning our air conditioner “ON” and “OFF” has become common. Automatic activities such as the creation of a fridge content list and automatic super-market ordering is attainable with a combination of just a few technologies.
The key technology that enables this is the connection of machines to the internet, or rather ‘the internet of things’ aka IoT. Technology combinations open up very important business opportunities for inventors and entrepreneurs. In the product development process – such as IoT solutions – prototypes are required in order to evaluate the product. 3D printing is one of the best tools in our tool box for the purpose of creating a prototype.
In the last few years, many engineers have adopted additive manufacturing (or 3D printing) solutions. However, the experience and knowledge is still incomplete. 3D printing technologies enable us to print models in various scales, materials, and colours. Those technologies assist in conceptual or functional prototype development. The variety of additive manufacturing technologies can assist when many testing iterations are needed. Using these technologies adds value and saves both costs and time.
AM and IoT
The combination of additive manufacturing and IoT is almost natural as both are in the forefront of technology. Today, we can see that prototypes are additively manufactured even in electronic devices such as printed circuit boards (PCB). The Israeli company, Nano Dimension, puts a lot of effort into developing a 3D printer which will be able to print PCB in layers, especially for IoT needs.
Many IoT innovations start from proof of concept (POC). This step is needed to execute a prototype which will be very professional and accurate but also cheap and fast to manufacture. These requirements, which many consider to be expensive, are important in order to test our needs and implement the test results at the next stage. As you have probably already understood, using 3D printing can reduce marketing time. Integration of 3D printing in IoT product development is almost vital in order to achieve progress. Moreover, it’s not so expensive compared to traditional manufacturing.
The use of digital manufacturing assists us in turning the digital model into reality. 3D printing enables us to design limitless complex geometries. We can fabricate prototypes and short series productions. These advantages enable us to create many solutions in Automotive, Medical, Aerospace, Consumer, and many other products. Printed circuit boards in complex geometry packed with specific aerodynamic mechanical packages will become commonplace and will be used for developing unique sensors for extreme needs.
These facts show that the ability to execute ideas is easy and will become easier in the near future. Formulate your ideas and innovation notebooks. Soon you will be able to print your idea and move forward.