Additive manufacturing or 3D printing is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital model. 3D printing is achieved using additive processes, where an object is created by laying down successive layers of material. 3D printing is considered distinct from traditional machining techniques (subtractive processes) which mostly rely on the removal of material by drilling, cutting etc.
3D printing is usually performed by a materials printer using digital technology. Since the start of the twenty-first century there has been a large growth in the sales of these machines, and their price dropped substantially.
The technology is used in the fields of jewellery, footwear, industrial design, architecture, engineering and construction (AEC), automotive, aerospace, dental and medical industries, education, geographic information systems, civil engineering, and many others.
Have you ever wished for a flying book? A flying keyboard? Or, perhaps, a flying bodyboard? Well, it’s your lucky day, because thanks to “Drone It Yourself,” you can turn pretty much any object into a quadrocopter. The drone kit, created by Dutch independent designer Jasper Van Loenen, is comprised of pieces that can be 3D printed, and then clamped to any object you so desire. All that’s needed are the control unit and four propellers, and then you can make virtually anything airborne.
Breaking a bone is unpleasant all around — and having to wear a smelly, clunky plaster cast is like getting kicked when you’re down. At least, that’s how Jake Evill felt after breaking his hand. He told Wired that his plaster cast felt “archaic.” Evill, a recent graduate of Victoria University in New Zealand, wants to update the process of healing of broken limbs with something a little more modern: 3D printing.
Evill created the Cortex cast, a breathable, lightweight, recyclable and washable exoskeleton that mimics the body’s trabecular, the small honeycomb-like structure that makes up your inner bone structure. The cast lets in plenty of air, which prevents that stuffy, itchy feeling. The Cortex cast employs a similar fitting system as other casts, with X-rays to determine bone fractures. Evill’s prototype used a hacked Kinect for Xbox for the 3D scanning, but a more sophisticated and precise scanning process is in the works.
By adding efficiency and innovation to the prototyping process — transforming the way businesses manufacture and distribute goods, and creating a whole new market for custom products — 3D printers have the potential to revolutionize the way you do business.
Many businesses start with one great idea for a product. But turning that idea into something tangible takes a lot of time and money — at least that was the case before the age of 3D printing.
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Now, small and midsize businesses (SMBs) can create innovative products more quickly and affordably with the use of an in-house 3D printer.
“Traditionally, SMBs have outsourced their designs to service bureaus to get a prototype,” said Bruce Bradshaw, director of marketing at 3D printing provider Stratasys. “While this allowed them to get a single prototype, they were constrained by the budget associated with the cost of outsourcing and by only using one or two parts during the design cycle.”
But Bradshaw said 3D printers are changing all that by allowing businesses to keep creating prototypes until they’re completely satisfied with the quality of the design. This shift in the process allows companies to create better products more quickly.
Speeding up the time it takes to get products to market is a huge deal for companies whose success hinges on constantly churning out new products.
3-D Printing has many applications and will be widely used as the technology grows more and more versatile and perfect.