3D printing is also known as "additive manufacturing" and is the process of creating objects by laying down successive layers of materials according to a digital blueprint. The materials than can be used vary wildly, and modern 3D printers can also lay down layers with different materials in virtually any shape, making it a wildly attractive technique for a huge variety of industries.
Another benefit of this new method is the ability of companies and individuals to economically produce small runs of a concept or prototype – as opposed to traditional subtractive manufacturing which is only economically viable when dealing with huge numbers of products. This reduction in costs means that even solo designers can create a prototype cost-effectively – opening up the doors to innovation in the manufacturing space.
While at first the concept of 3D printing may not seem to be revolutionary, below are listed a few of the applications of the technique that are really making waves:
· Medicine - Doctors are now able to print out exact replicas of a patient’s body in order to practice or run over complicated surgery routines in advance. Beyond that, scientists are working on being able to actually print out new body parts and organs, opening up a whole new world of rejuvenating therapies.
· Art - In addition to being able to produce one-off runs of a design, 3D printing has enabled artists to create objects that would have been virtually impossible in the past – such as these mind-bending sculptures from Bathsheba Grossman
· Hearing Aids - With 3D printers and scanning technology, a scan of the hearing canal is taken and can be used to print out personalized hearing aids that conform perfectly to the individual, increasing comfort and clarity.
· Prototyping - The low-cost associated with producing a one-off prototype of a design means that more risks can be taken, flaws corrected and adjustments made without running out of time or money. The gains in productivity and innovation are just beginning to be seen around the world.
· Component Manufacturing - Picture this – a manufacturer realises that they’re missing a small part necessary for the completion of a project. In the past, they had one option – send in an order and wait for the part to be sent by physical post. Now, with 3D printing, a scan of the part can be sent electronically, and the necessary part printed out immediately.
· Spare Parts - These days, if say, your printer at home breaks down due to a broken part, you’re likely to either throw it away and buy a new one or have to wait several weeks while you wait for a new part to be sent out. With 3D printing, it won’t be long before you’ll be able to print out the part at home using a personal 3D printer, saving time and money.
These are just some of the possibilities that have been opened up by advancements in 3d printing, and over the next few years we will start to see it make its way into our daily lives.
But if you are still using an inkjet printer or laser toner printer, visit our e-store for the printer supplies you need!
Source: How 3D Printing Will Change the World