3D printing is changing the traditional ways we use to produce different objects like clothing, rocket nozzles, human figures, tools, toys, and even body parts. Well-known two dimensional artworks can now be transformed into 3D with this method of printing. The visually impaired people can feel it with hands. 3D printed foods are extremely popular. In the medical world, doctors can create small body parts with the printer. Doctors are even testing 3D printed organs for transplant. Recently, a giant printer in China printed 10 complete houses in just a single day and that too in less than $5000 per house.
3D printing is part of the additive manufacturing process that can be utilized for making three dimensional solid objects from digital file. Printing is done in parts and the final object is created by adding materials layer by layer. Additive manufacturing process allows designers to manufacture complex parts of machines, flights and cars at fraction of second and at minimum cost.
3D printing technology
The first step of 3D printing is to create the blueprint of the object which you want to print. You can either use software or refer to a website for creating the blueprint of your design. Once you have finished the design, it is time to send it to the printer. When the printer receives the data, it deposits the material on the sheet one layer at a time until the entire object is created.
This is the most basic method common to all applications. Various technologies can be used to do 3D printing. The difference among these technologies is how different layers are created to form a part. Some of the most widely used technologies are-Fused Deposition Modeling, Stereolithography and Selective Laser Sintering. Selective Laser Sintering and Fused Deposition Modeling use melted or softened materials to create the layers one after the other.
The most common type of material that was used for creating 3D objects is plastic. Now, some other materials like concrete, ceramic, synthetic stones and even cheese and chocolate are used for creating different items. Such experiments are showing wonderful results and are enabling to create products beyond the simple tools and toys.
3D printing can be truly cost effective and saves enormous time. The consumer friendly 3D printers are bringing this process of additive manufacturing into homes and businesses. The biggest limitation for the individual home users is the cost of the printers.
Benefits of 3D printing
Apart, from the expenses and speed of the process, there are many other advantages of the 3D printing technology. Let’s find out what are those:
- In the past, people have to drill, cut or fill away from a certain quantity of base materials to create something. That resulted in mounts of leftover scrap materials. Since, 3D printing is an additive process and the object is directly created from the base material thinking about its application, there is much lesser quantity of wastes associated with manufacturing process.
- Once the blueprint is ready and the data is uploaded to the printer, the extrusion head of the printer will follow what the computer will tell it. There is no requirement to attach a different mold for every object to every machine. Hence, the manufacturing process becomes easier and financially viable.
- It is possible to create niche component for a car or the entire house with the 3D printer. Even a single piece can be manufactured at ease. There is no need to print in bulk. As the trend is to make things more customized, companies are ready to adopt the technology and offer their customers personalized products.
- The entire process of making the 3D printed products can be completed within the factory. The parts can then be transported to the construction area and assembled there. It reduces the manufacturing hazards.
While this trend is very much in discussion, it will not totally eliminate our traditional way of manufacturing. It will only change the accepted norms of manufacturing and make it even better.