3D printing brings new life to mechanical engineering

Ever sent the apprentice out to buy a corner drill or a long weight?

Well be careful, these days they may just say, “OK, I can print holes around corners and a long weight should print up in a few hours while I do something else.”
Mechanical design engineering went out of fashion a long time ago, especially in the dot-com years of the late 90’s. During my corporate years, the company I worked for completely changed their image to an electronics development company – even though most of its profit came from their mechanical manufacturing division. Bits were out and bites were in.
There was a general thought around that mechanical things had been taken about as far as they could go: “If it could be patented it would have been done by now,” was the catch cry as all the interesting developments began taking place in electronics & software.

3D printing has changed this situation drastically by freeing up the mechanical engineer to focus on design rather than how it could be made. Here at Palmer Design & Manufacturing we make components that would have been impossible a few years ago; the sort of things that if taken to the engineering department would have been laughed at for the impractically of manufacture.
A simple example would be tiny holes that are printed around corners, but impossible to mould.

3D printing makes it possible to replicate the natural world; internal bone structures or the stem of a plant from materials that are incredibly light, yet strong.

With a whole world of new possibilities opening for this generation of mechanical engineers, who can imagine the amazing new designs that will come about in the next ten years?

 

Palmer Design & Manufacturing: looking beyond the impossible through great design.

 

Andrew Palmer
Director of PDM
www.palmerdesign.co.nz