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Will Big Data Enhance 3D Printing?

April 5, 2016

Here are 4 Ways Big Data and 3D Printing Go Hand In Hand

1. Data Enables Custom Manufacturing. The efficiency and customization power of 3D printing could turn production inside out. Instead of mass producing goods and trying to sell as many as possible, companies can now build products on request.

The data implication? Huge backlogs of CAD (computer-aided design) files corresponding to the items they create. Imagine a catalog, but on a much larger scale. These files can be massive and complex, which inevitably means they’ll require more server space, stringent security, and keen archival methods.

2. Data Feeds Quality Assurance. GE Aviation says it will be building more than 100,000 engine components with 3D printing by 2020. This method is faster and more efficient in terms of labor, but it also requires more advanced quality control. Countless factors can affect the outcome of the final product, including temperature, alignment, deflection, shrinkage, expansion, structural integrity, and more.

3. 3D Printing and Data Visualization. As the global data pool multiplies, companies in all sectors are searching for innovative ways to make sense of their data.

Two researchers at MIT proved 3D printing’s utility as a data visualization tool when they fabricated a 3D scale model of the MIT campus and used colored lights from a projector to display various data about the school, such as building height and Twitter posts by location.

The advantage of the model, they said, is that it provides a fixed framework for displaying variable data inputs.

4. Printing Data Storage. There has been some speculation about the possibility of 3D printing storage drives, server components, circuit boards, and other technology. In theory, these printed drives could host the data used for printing other tangible goods.

Big Data will be used everywhere.

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