What is 3D Printing?
3D printing is a way of creating three dimensional (3D) solid objects. 3D printing is done by building up the object layer by layer from a digital file. Usually, 3D printers use plastic, because it is easier to use and cheaper.
3D printers are useful because they can make new objects very fast and detailed. This results in a much faster turnaround times for product development. Means an engineer can test a lot of new designs and not have to wait for someone else to make them. They are also useful for fixing parts made of plastic, and for making toys, figures, and models. There are a lot of people who print 3D objects at home.
3D printing technologies have started to change the way we create tools and objects within the current industry manufacturing processes. It has revolutionized the way tools and objects like toys, eye wear, some forms of footwear, design, small furniture, clothes, and even body parts are created. It also is used in industrial manufacturing such as creating manufacturing tools, forms of different prototypes, and even some functional end-use parts.
3D printing is a part of a manufacturing process that is known as Additive Manufacturing, a process where an object is created by the addition of material, layer after layer according to the need and design. Unlike a subtraction process where you take away the parts you don’t need like carving out a 3D object out of wood or cnc machining would be a good example.
Benefits of 3D Printing
3D printing allows the engineer to create complex parts for prototypes, and it does so at a low cost compared to the other factory methods available like molding, forging, and sculpting. It does so in a 3D dimensional manner, unlike printers that only print on a certain surface, it is able to create objects and add details to the objects it is creating. In this way of creating objects, there is very little labor involved in the creation of objects which cuts down on the cost of creating these objects in masses.
Its low-cost production and maintenance have provided small businesses a great way to improve and make the objects required for their business at their desired price.
Types of 3D Printing
There are different types of 3D printing processes that are used for different purposes depending upon the required results, materials, and the scope of operation. Most common types include,
Vat Photopolymerization: is a 3D printer that has a photopolymer resin container in its method of creating 3D objects. Resin is scanned with the help of a UV light that passes through as a source to get the scan.
Stereolithography is also known as SLA was invented a long time ago in 1986 by the founder of 3D systems Charles Hull. It actually uses a photopolymer resin as well as an ultraviolet laser for the layer to be created and measure correctly one at a time for accurate readings. This laser beam traces the pattern on the surface of the resin liquid in a cross-section pattern. Then it proceeds further on creating the object depending on the orientation of the object that needs to be printed. It does require support structure in the process of 3D printing the object.
Digital Light Synthesis: is at the heart of CLIP process technology in which, a light that comes from LED light engine projects a line for UV images that shows a 3D printed part in a cross-section. Once the light has already created the shape of the desired part, the curing process which is programable does the next baking part in an oven that creates the mechanical properties of the object. Material jetting is a process where the material can be attached in droplets with a small nozzle and it works like an inkjet paper printer but it applies layer after layer to build and then it is
hardened by the use of UV lights. Binder jetting used two types of materials, one is a powders base and the other is a liquid binder in the building champers. Power is spread and the binder is applied with the nozzles that intact like particles like glue with keeping in mind the shape that it is trying to build for the printing. It was created in 1993 in MIT and has evolved ever since into mass production in the industry.
Fused Deposition Modeling: or simply referred to as FDM uses a sort of plastic filament which is unwound from a spool and supplied to the nozzle which can turn the flow on or off. It then is heated for the material to be melted to be applied with the needs. It is used to create the object as it is hardened right after it is put on the surface from the nozzle.
Selective Laser Sintering or SLS is a process where powdered material is fused in smalls parts like a powder and is used to create a 3D desire object by scanning the dimensions of the object and later used layer after layer and grow its thickness. This process is applied one after the other to achieve the desired object.
How 3D Printing Works?
In recent times, smaller and consumer-friendly 3D printers are being used in small businesses and homes to create their required items independently. The first step towards creating a 3D printed object is to create a blueprint or also referred to a 3D model of that object in order to be printed with the help of the 3D printer. It is created through software like blender, solidworks, autodesk fusion 360 and other alike, you need to have the knowledge of the software to be able to design models efficiently.
There are many platforms that help you get 3D rendered model files that another consumer has already created and uploaded for others in the community to use. If you can’t design something common, there are chances that someone who has built something similar with their 3D printer has uploaded the content for you to use and print.
After you are done with creating a needed design, it is time to go put that into your printer. Printers like MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer use renewable plastic material on their back which is like a string and is flexible. This material is used to create objects in 3D with the help of the printer precisely put the material in a layer on top of other layers.
When the printer gets the data it requires to print, it takes the material and melts it, and then uses that liquid to make layers of the objects on its plate which cools the material, resulting in the creation of the object. It adds the material one layer at a time and it has to do so to make sure the object that is it is trying to create is created with the right dimension according to the data. It creates that fully formed structure with layering and understanding the dimension of the design.
Use of 3D Printing
The material or filament used in their 3D printers is mostly plastic to make toys and some household items but other materials used can also produce some great results. Some medical use for these 3D printers has also shown incredible results. It still is in a testing process but can yield great results in the coming future if the experiments are successful.
The food industry has also been able to use 3D printers to create a very charming looking treat to catch the eye of more customer and appeal to kids as well. Something like the cupcake decorators rely on 3D printing to do their decorations.
To the credit of the evolution of technology in recent times, giant 3D printers were able to print 10 houses in China in only a single day and it cost less to build these houses than the average cost of a home in China.
This shows how time-efficient and cost-effective these printers can be if they are put to use more carefully.
3D Printing in Giant Industries
Its market is predicted to reach around 3.4 billion dollars in the next 10 years.
3D printing is part of giant industries that are crucial in running the world today. In Aviation 3D printers help in creating cobalt-chrome fuel nozzles for aircraft engines. These printers can produce 600 items per week only on few printers. All these parts are used for the LEAP engine that is the best-selling engine for the aircraft and aviation industry as of today.
Since 3D printing helps in the reduction of waste in the process of making objects, aircraft parts that are made of titanium are created with a 3D printer now to not waste the expensive material and cut down on the cost of making these parts.
Printers just like the Norsk Merke 4 use a metal wire and then melt it in a Rapid Plasma Deposition process which is a form of Directed Energy Deposition, this can help in creating 10kg titanium in an hour or so. A part that is created with 20Kg of titanium for only 2Kg results, 3D Printing can do it for 6Kg wire and not make a lot of waste, its left-over material and also be later used for different parts as well.
3D Printing in Consumer Products
Consumer products are the mainstream use of 3D printers. Footwear is one of the mainstream uses, Adidas prints its mid-soles on 3D printers, and they have printed 100,000 in only 2018 and this number has increased significantly over the years.
Eye wear is another trend that has adopted the wide use of 3D printing technology. 3D printing is suitable for eye wear products because of its precise and calculated creation of the products according to the individual instruction given to it by the design. A 3D printer can make lenses for glasses. Traditionally glasses are made from a block of the glass of which 80 percent goes to waste after craving out a lens from the block.
We need many lenses and many of the people need replacements so 80 percent is a big number for the waste being created by the traditional methods of creating lenses by carving out the lenses.
Labs also need to have many custom lenses for their clients to fit their individual needs. 3D printers have evolved enough that making something like an ophthalmic lens is quite achievable and done so in mass production as well as custom orders.
In this method, there is also no waste that was previously being created due to craving out the lens from a block.
There can also be customized lenses that show better clarity up close and some better vision for the clients who need far-sighted lenses as well.
Jewelry and other fashion items are also mass-produced by 3D printers today, these are made directly by designing a custom 3D printing files and then printing it.
It can also make custom molds to be later used for the creation of the jewelry, the possibilities are endless.
3D Printing in Medicine and Healthcare
The Healthcare system has seen great advancement with the help of 3D printing as well, implants for body parts are often created with 3D printers according to the fit size and dimension of the individual needs.
GE Additive has been able to make more than 100,000 hip replacements in the last decade. Some of the Delta-TT Cup implants are working just fine after 10 years of the first implant due to its trabecular structure that helps incompatibility of the titanium which helps with bone growth into the implant.
Materialize and Phonak have done a great job in making use of the 3D printing abilities to help in creating hearing aids. Over the last 17 years or so, most of the hearing aids that were made for the consumers were printed on 3D printers. It was all done with the help of Phonak’s revolutionary Rapid Shell Modeling which was introduced to the world in 2001.
Before this technology and methods became widespread for the industries, hearing aids were made with 9 steps that required a lot of effort and it involved sculpting and mold making which often resulted in miss-fittings and loose hearing aids.
Silicone is used to take a technical scan of the ear canal; it is scanned in 3D and some minor tweaks are made for fitting and the resin 3D printer is set for the pint to be made.
There is another process where electronics are fitted into the design that is essential to its nature then it is shipped to the consumers for use.
Due to the ease of making these hearing aids with the use of 3D printers, thousands of hearing aids are made each year with the help of this revolutionary technology. It helps thousands of people in hearing that might have had to face problems with fitting and had to buy expensive hearing aids for their needs.
This process creates hearing aids in masses and then it also makes them cheaper so people can easily afford them.
Dental health care has also been benefitted from the 3D printing technology that is widely available as of now.
Clear teeth aligner is perhaps the most 3D printed molded available in the healthcare industry. These aligners are mostly made from both the resin and the powder-based processes of 3D printing available for mass production, material jetting is also used for the creation of such required objects for Dental use.
Dentures are also directly created by 3D printing with the surgical guides in the process.
Bio-printing is being adapted but slowly, as of the last decade biotech firms are investing heavily into tissue engineering applications that help in the creation of artificially made organs and body parts that use inkjet techniques.
3D Printing in Education
The education sector has seen wide use of 3D printing technology as students use these printers to materialize their new ideas and different ways of problem-solving.
Getting degrees in additive manufacturing is not very common and a new field of study, 3D printers are quote commonly used in academia. There are many courses dedicated to the craft of 3D printing that help in learning and understanding the craft.
These are taught in the form of courses like CAD and 3D design which later on are applied to the 3D printing stages.
3D printers are used for the sake of prototyping. Specialization in additive manufacturing are acquired through special architecture and design degree and printed prototypes are very common to use in the fields of arts, fashion as well as animation studios in the universities.
Benefits of 3D Printing
3D printing has many benefits such as 3D printing helps in creating products at a very low cost and are friendly for the small businesses that want to work independently on their own.
3D printing is also environment friendly, since it only needs the material required to print, there is no waste material left in industrial manufacturing. Since there is less waste, it helps in saving the environment by cutting down on the need for too much material, and later no waste is dumped on the earth. This results in less pollution and waste being created by the industries today.
In short 3D printing has many benefits that can be had by using a 3D printer in the masses for industrial production. The waste management has been one of the primary issues for the environment and the pollution that is created through the industrial waste.
3D printers and their use help in creating less waste which adds significantly to the less pollution that is resulted from the waste created by the industrial production and mass productions.
Thank you for checking out our post and reading to the end. We are very hopeful that this has been a very helpful to you and that you could learn something from it. Please share with us your knowledge and experience in the comments below.