3D printing technology is revolutionizing the way we make objects every day by the means of additive manufacturing. 3D printers can now produce tools, toys, clothing and even airplane parts with shapes that were not possible before using subtracting manufacturing. 3D printing is part of a process known as additive manufacturing (AM) where an object is created by adding material layer by layer. Additive manufacturing or AM allows designers to create complex parts for cars. Airplanes and industrial applications at a fraction of the cost and time of former methods, like forging, molding and sculpting. Nowadays, smaller consumer friendly 3D printers are bringing additive manufacturing to homes and businesses.
How do 3d printers actually work?
It’s very similar to a normal printer, but also a little different. You don’t put in an ink cartridge and instead, you connect a spool of special printing material like plastic rubber or even metal. You will not print boring text documents by 3D printers, but instead you can print real life models of what you’ve just made on your computer screen.
Makerbot + Thingiverse: The printer and marketplace
The first step of this process is to create a blueprint of the object you want to 3D print. You can use modeling software or 3D scanners to create your own designs. You can also download available 3D models by visiting cloud-based websites like Thingiverse or Shapeways to find objects other users have 3d modeled.
If you’re not really a wizard with all that technical stuff you can buy personalized 3d models online like fancy toys, bracelets or phone cases from marketplaces on the cloud in this age of direct digital manufacturing and then send it to a 3d print shop nearby. You only need to choose the material and the next day or so you are set to pick up your own unique item.
Once you have finished the design process, it’s time to send it to the 3D printer. Some printers like the “Makerbot” have a renewable bio-plastics pool in the back of the device which is almost like a string. When the printer fetches the data, it pulls the material through a tube and then it melts and deposits it to the plate where it’s instantly cooled.
Rapid Prototyping by 3D printers
Some makers are building working shock absorber spring or even gears on using 3D printers. We are seeing this type of 3d printing being used for rapid prototyping by major companies, small design firms and even individuals, so we are seeing a trend of consumers creating things and being able to submit them to services on the web, where they could have a rapid prototype sent to them or even a finished manufactured products up to them.
You can even use metal in additive manufacturing
The 3D object is created through a layering process. Where the printer will add one layer of the object at a time, until you have a fully form structure. The most used material available for 3d printers is plastic, but the use of other materials allows for the creation of some pretty amazing products beyond simple tools and toys. You will see most of these objects are white using a hard abs plastic while others will have multiple colors. The good thing is ability to use different material. Some 3d printers will even do metal or titanium for printing hard metal prototypes and even working products.
You can 3D print food too!
3D printing food is becoming very popular day by day in homes, restaurants and even factories and it is believed to be the future of cooking. You can have your salad with your signature printed on top by mayonnaise! The last revolution in the kitchen happened with the microwave and the next revolution is by 3D food printers Like Foodini.
Just imagine you’re sitting at home, dream about a burger, pizza or ravioli, but you’re too lazy to put in the hard work. That’s when the 3d food printer comes into play! You type it into the computer and with the right ingredients in the printer and it begins to pump out the food on the plate. You can then take it to the oven and cook it yourself either baked, boiled or by the help of microwave. You just need the right cartridges and the right appetite to match it.
Medical Applications of 3D printing
Additive manufacturing has allowed the creation of complicated treats in the medical world. Doctors are testing biomaterials for regenerative medicine by using a patient’s cells. Doctors could 3d print small body parts like ears and noses using biomaterials and3D printers. Surgeons have even tested 3d printed organs for transplants. I was surprised when I heard giant 3d printers in China printed 10 houses in just one day and at a cost of less than five thousand dollars per house! This proves how cost and time efficient 3d printing can be.
Get your hands dirty
3D printing is taking over the world and the benefits of using or having one is not hidden to anybody, so if you wanna learn more about them or maybe invent one of them yourself, follow us at DigiNic.