Potential of 3D printing in chemical industry - WorldOfChemicals

How 3D Printing is transforming the Chemical Industry?

3D Printing


3D printing is the process of manufacturing a 3D object from CAD data. It is also known as additive manufacturing because it is manufactured by placing successive layers of material. A 3D model can be created from scratch with a 3D modeling software or a digital model of an object can be created with a 3D scanner. The digital model is translated into a real object using a 3D printer.

Transformation of the chemical industry through 3D printing

3D printing is an innovative technology, which has already been incorporated by the chemical industry. Since its commercialization in the 1980s, it has been growing and its implementation in the chemical industry has increased.

This is due to the following circumstances:

 1. The decreasing cost of the 3D printer in the chemical industry due to cheaper raw materials.

 2. New 3D printers can accommodate more diverse materials.

 3. Faster printing speeds.

 4. Capacity to create complex geometries



In the chemical industry, a 3D printer is used for research and development (R&D), manufacturing, maintenance, and processes.

Research and Development

3D printing has enhanced the Research and Development (R&D) cycle through onsite prototype printing. Prototypes facilitate smooth manufacturing, testing and finalizing. They also reduce the time to market (TTM). More 3D printing materials will be produced in the future within the chemical industry, provided the right formulas are developed for their creation.


3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing minimizes wastage as it only uses the amount of material that is required. 3D printing enables streamlining of processes, acceleration of design cycles, quicker operations and faster takeoff to the market (TTM). With 3D printer, lab equipment can be printed economically, such as custom-designed laboratory containers, which test chemical reactions.

Maintenance and Processes

3D printing is increasingly being used for the maintenance of plant assets. In the advent of an asset failure due to a damaged part, the replacement part can be conveniently printed on spot and installed in time. In-house printing of spare parts reduces inventory costs and increases efficiency. Manufacturing processes are being simulated through the printing of prototypes.


3D printing has been instrumental in the transformation of the chemical industry. This is because 3D printing facilitates mass production, economic fabrication, smooth operation, rapid prototyping and manufacturing.


3D printing technology has developed over the past three decades and is continuing to further develop. However, its widespread implementation will take time because of the limitations in fields such as materials science, supply chain digitalization, engineering techniques, and chemical industry advancements.

Intellectual property protection has been a prevalent unresolved issue. Property such as 3D digital blueprints could be either be hacked or leaked. Apart from digital files, replicas of a product protected under patent laws, copyright and trademark could be manufactured through 3D scanners.


New technology is arising, as an extension to 3d printing technology where 3D printed objects develop an additional dimension, which can be transformed by environmental parameters such as temperature and light. This technology is known as 4D printing and the materials involved are smart materials.

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