Today I came across a couple of renderings on Behance called No Limit, which are an artist impression on how the future of 3D printing could look like. Below is one of the pictures.
What struck me in this rendering is the clear separation of parts to create a whole product. I think it is also one of the biggest challenges in 3D printing. There is a tendency with 3D printing to print a whole product as a single continuous product. But in real-life products are not a single part and there are good reasons for that. The requirements for individual parts are different. No single material is able to match all of the required properties — especially in the limited offering of materials available for 3D printing. It is also one of the reasons why many products made using 3D printing are just not on the same level — visually and functionally — as mass-produced products. The exception is mono-material products like jewelry or ceramics.
It is interesting that there are not many articles available on combining 3D printed parts together to create a product. It is certainly necessary because properties like production tolerances and tensile strength are different for each material and 3D printing method. You cannot just design different parts and expect them to fit. Even made using the same printer with the same material.
It would be awesome to see more compounded parts to create new products. I think it will open much more opportunities to create and manufacture meaningful and useful products using 3D printing.