3D printing has definitely been blowing up in the last few years. In my opinion, I believe 3D printing is on its exponential curve for expansion and development. Right now, it’s going straight up. There is a consistent demand for doing it yourself enthusiasts and “makers” in the world, and there are quite a few people ready to fill in that demand. As it is becoming much easier to manufacture at an individual level, we will see the rise of inventors, new ideas, and new expansion in product development. Before we even jump into that, let me answer this question for you. What is 3D printing?
This technology is a form of manufacturing that allows for the creation of pretty much anything out of a variety of materials and sizes. Typically, a 3D printer can’t produce parts much bigger than a large RC plane or a motorcycle helmet. However, there has been a rise in the potential and possibility of prints. There have actually been printers which can manufacture buildings out of concrete! Printing entire buildings! There is definitely a variety of sizes. 3D printing is essentially the layer by layer creation of whatever you need. A printer head, ultraviolet light, laser, or whatever will actually lay down layers of material, one layer at a time. These layers will continue to stack until a final piece is made.
These layers will typically be less than .3mm in width, but each print typically consists of dozens if not hundreds of layers. These printers can give designers a ton of freedom in what they can make, as the designers don’t have to worry about as many design rules. The layer by layer process of 3D printing can create pretty much anything that can be designed on the computer because there isn’t material removal, but the material is laid down. Intricate centres are available through this technology. Hollow spaces are very popular. Aside from that, there are also a ton of groves and curves available for use within models. There are a ton of options!
3D printers can create products in various sizes, with very little limitations as to what can be designed, but I want to cover some of the materials offered throughout this technology known as 3D printing. In fact, there are over 100 materials to choose from! That means that there is a material for pretty much any material that you would ever need. There are various mechanical materials for use. Some are flame retardants such as prime part. Titanium is a material which is actually used on the outside of jets.
Inconel is a material which can withstand extreme heat and is used in jet engines. Basic metals such as stainless steel and aluminium are also available. Full-colour materials are available in sandstone like composites. Various plastics are available in various colours. There are even rubber-like materials, offered by object. Other materials exist in the world of 3D printing such as wax casts. These materials typically offer very high detail and burn out easily.
In a nutshell, 3D printing is here to stay. It is constantly improving, and it will change the way that we look at manufacturing within the next few years.