Three-dimensional printing is the process by which a variety of materials are combined and shaped with the use of a computer in order to manufacture a finished product. Similar in concept to the fictional invention from Star Trek, the replicator, 3D printers can theoretically be used in order to create anything it has the ingredients and blueprints to make. Yesterday’s science fiction is becoming today’s reality right before our eyes.
The process of three dimensional printing is fairly simple when broken down step by step. The first step in 3D printing is the creation of a three dimensional model using your computer. This can be done by using a complex 3D modelling software, designed to allow the users to manually construct 3D objects. Or, you can just use a 3D scanner, which will create a digital copy of the object for you.
Once you have a model of whatever it is you want to create with your printer, the design needs to be broken down. Specifically, in order to be able to print a three dimensional object, the model of the object must be broken down into hundreds or thousands of layers using a slicing program. This allows the 3D printer to produce your design layer by layer, creating a three dimensional object by stacking the layers back together.
The sheer variety of ways that 3D printing can be used is almost hard to grasp. Today, it is being used in a number of different industries as a more effective way to create their products. The manufacturing, healthcare, fashion, and educational industries all make use of the three dimensional printers in order to rapidly turn a finished design into a finished product.
Educators can use 3D printers in the classroom, giving their students an unprecedented way to manufacture their ideas in a swift and affordable way. Experts believe that the future of STEM education lies in the use of technology such as the 3D printer. They are used frequently by researchers and university students in order to test prototype designs and perform experiments as well.
The ability to simply input a design on to your computer, then print that design in a matter of minutes is an obvious boon to those who work in manufacturing. This applies to pretty much any company that produces and sells a product. These 3D printers are being used across the world, by everyone from car and aerospace engineers producing parts, to consumer products like furniture or household appliances. 3D printers give all of these industries the ability to create a finished product in an unprecedented amount of time.
One of the most interesting uses of 3D printers that is starting to become popular is for medical treatment and surgeries. Doctors have, for more than a decade now, used 3D printers in order to create prosthetics and implants for their patients, even used in the middle surgery in order to help save lives. Recently however, scientists have found a way to print fully functional internal organs, a revolutionary technological advancement that could save millions of lives every year.