3D printing was born over 30 years ago when Chuck Hull of 3D Systems (a company built on his creation) created the very first working 3D printer. And the 21st Century is now seeing this technology grow at a rapid rate with a substantial increase in the sale of 3D printers, and a wide variety of applications and markets as the full potential of 3D printing is beginning to be realised. This rapid increase in sales and applications coincides with a decrease in cost of the hardware, which is now available both on an industrial and domestic level. 3d printing mumbai pune maharashtra telangana india
The 3D printing process starts with a Computer Aided Design (CAD), a bit like an architect’s house design. To prepare this CAD for printing, 3D modelling software ‘slices’ the design into hundreds or thousands of horizontal layers. When the sliced CAD file is uploaded to a 3D printer, each ‘slice’ (or 2D image) can be read by the printer and the 3D print object can be created layer by layer. It’s a bit like building a snowman (or rolling a snowball) – building it up, bit by bit.
There are now different types of 3D printing techniques available, but the core technology is the same. Material ‘ink’ is deposited layer by layer to build a 3D object. This process is also known as additive manufacturing.
Applications and Uses
3D printing technology is being embraced and developed by a number of industries, most commonly for prototyping and in distributed manufacturing with applications in a wide variety of industries, like dental and medical, biotech (human tissue replacement), education, food and fashion (we can already buy 3D printed jewellery and glasses). And, on a larger scale, in industries such as architecture, civil and general engineering, industrial design, aerospace, construction and automotive engineering.
3d printing construction applications
3d printing medical applications
3d printing applications in manufacturing
Many IT companies like Microsoft and Google enabled their hardware to perform 3D scanning, and this is a clear sign that future handheld devices like smartphones will have integrated 3D scanners. Digitising real objects into 3D models will become as easy as taking a picture.
Nike has partnered with HP and uses 3D printers to create multi-colored prototypes of shoes. They used to spend thousands of dollars on a prototype and wait weeks for it. Now, the cost is only in the hundreds of dollars, and changes can be made instantly on the computer and the prototype reprinted on the same day.
It’s predicted that 3D printing could have mass market appeal as capital costs can be offset by open source 3D printing, and customers will be able to avoid some of the usual costs and time involved when buying common household items, such as new cutlery for your dinner guests. Some advocates believe that this technological advancement will change the nature of commerce because end users can manufacture their own items and bypass trade and engagement with other people and corporations.
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