A Feasibility Study of Fused Filament Fabrication for Improving Industrial Manufacturing
Desktop fused filament fabrication 3D printers have evolved from novelty devices to highly sophisticated manufacturing machines, and captured 96% of global 3D printer sales in 2016. Industrial manufacturing, the sector responsible for transforming large quantities of raw materials into finished goods, stands to benefit greatly from the exploitation of previously cost-prohibitive additive manufacturing practices. The purpose of this study is to establish the feasibility of fused filament fabrication for improving industrial manufacturing. This thesis reviews many pertinent publications, and experiments with a low-cost printer to generate cases studies focusing on: dimensional quality, process performance, energy consumption, and lead time reduction necessary for industrial manufacturing. The tested $350.00 fused filament fabrication desktop printer proved to be capable of producing products with 3 sigma quality, and consume less than $30.00 of electricity per month of continuous operation. Although there might be issues with the build surface, the ability of fused filament fabrication to improve industrial manufacturing was found to be feasible.