3D printing or additive manufacturing refers to techniques used to make three-dimensional objects using a machine i.e., 3D printer. There are a number of processes occurring one after another to construct the three-dimensional solid object using a computer by first making a 3D model and then to build it using various layers of material under a computer controlled robot.

3D Printing

The production of a 3D object depends on the virtual design that you create in a CAD package or 3D modeling software application such as 3D blender, AutoCAD. The 3D printer takes that virtual design and converts it into layers by a process called slicing to create physical objects. 3D printers use lasers or electron beam to melt metal powder into specific dimensions so it can produce the desired object.

3D printing technology has been there from the 1980s when researchers are coming up with ways to make rapid prototyping possible. Herbert Voelker, a researcher from the University of Rochester designed the first mathematical model and algorithm to describe three-dimensional parts of an object. Later, Researchers from the University of Texas came up with the idea of printing three-dimensional objects layer by layer. In the same year, Chuck Hull made first 3D printer which uses ultra-violet lasers to generate three dimensional objects. This technology has been evolving since after that by implementing different systems that use automated techniques such as robot welding and CNC for fabrication, melting, sintering, and casting.

3D Printing

Applications of 3D printing are infinite and from medical, to fashion industry, there is nothing in the world we can’t manufacture using 3D printers. At first 3D printing is used for rapid prototyping because they want to reduce the time and cost of developing prototypes but later it is used in the entire service sector. In the food industry for the development of chocolate, candy, and flat foods like pasta and pizza. In transportation, companies like Koenigsegg and General Electric is using 3D printed parts for cars and rockets engine afterward Local Motors made Strati first functioning vehicle that was completely 3D printed using carbon fiber. In the clothing industry, Adidas is using 3D printers for making soles of shoes to reduce the time for producing them. In the medical sector, doctors are using 3D printed body parts to perform dental implants, to make hearing aids, contact lenses, prosthesis. Now, we can use 3D printers to create devices that reduce the risk of infection and are comfortable for patients, for example, creating a device that will replace the knee or hip joint will help patient to promote faster healing, reduce expenses and long lasting joint. The Researcher at Virginia tech was able to make it a reality by creating a prosthetic hand for a girl. Bio-printing is the future of the medical industry; it will change the healthcare in ways no one can imagine we will have the ability to print living tissues using living cells. The Patient Specific model will help us to create organs for a person’s body using his own cells that will be pretty accurate. Bio-printers will be able to create heart, kidney or pancreas which will not only cure a chronic disease but also improve the chances of recovery. In Electronics, Researchers at Harvard University created 3D printed Lithium Ion Battery that is the size of a single grain. 3D printing will also transform nanotechnology by making nano-fabrication faster and efficient.

Molecular 3D printer

3D printing holds the key to make manufacturing more reliable and more advanced designs such as Goal Directed Design in which computers apply algorithms and run the simulation of it to devise a specific object which contains the necessary strength and weight plus it also checks for all the possibilities and creates the best design. 3D printers can produce complex object, they can customize items without any requirement of tools and molds and it generates less waste so, it is Eco-friendly but some of the problems in making 3D printing available to every industry are that they have lower precision, limited strength, are expensive and too slow for mass production other than that accessibility of raw material is an important factor because construction of objects depends upon the physical property of material. Today, we have materials like plastic, poly carbonate, poly-lactic acid to make 3D models but soon we have to come up with new alloys to make 3D printing possible in different industries. Some of the drawbacks of 3D printing are that availability of it in everyone’s hands questions the right to the property where everyone has the power to copy the design of some other person. There are also other disadvantages of 3D printing technology is using 3D printers for making weapons or some other harmful objects which will affect the world on a larger scale.

Whether, 3D printing can make the future better by developing human body parts or it will give people power to construct anything it is going to take at least a decade before it can be availed in every industry and then we will be able to see all the consequences, whether good or bad, but possibly taking us into a revolutionary future!

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