What is 3D Printing and its applications?
3D Printing is a relatively new technology, which has the capability of changing the world. It is one of the most disruptive technology in development today. Now, this technology has started to reach some maturity. Companies like Adidas and SpaceX are already using it.
A little bit of background on Printers
Everybody has used printers, at least a few times in their lifetime. It is a remarkable invention. It works by laying a layer of ink on a piece of paper or other materials. Before printing press( the earlier version of printers) were available, the only way of creating documents was by writing manually, which was very costly. So, only the rich could afford books. After printers became available, the cost of books came down. Suddenly, many people could afford to purchase books. This speeded up the flow of information. Soon, the world was changing at a rate never seen anytime before in the history.
What is 3D Printing?
3D Printing is the method of printing three-dimensional objects. It is done by stacking multiple layers of the same type of material, successively one above another. Each layer has its own thickness of a few microns(millionth of a meter) to a few hundred microns. Adding up the layers, give the object its height component. Different 3D Printers use different techniques, but one of the most common is Fused Deposit Modelling.
Applications of 3D Printing:
- Industrial: Aviation industry is using it for printing aircraft parts, SpaceX is using it for printing parts for its rocket engines. Recently, Adidas announced a 3D printed shoe.
- Consumer Use: Hobbyists worldwide use it to create custom parts. In RepRap project, a RepRap 3D printer is used to create another RepRap printer.
- Rapid Prototyping: Companies use it to prototype models at a much faster pace than earlier ever possible.
- Construction: A construction company in China, used it to 3D print complete home parts by parts.
- Medical Use: A doctor in London used 3D printing, to make a prototype of an adult kidney, and used a model to analyze how a father’s kidney can be transplanted to his 4 years old son.
Future Applications of 3D Printing:
- Food: 3D printed food which will contain the exact quantity of nutrients required and the desired taste.
- Medicine: Medicines will be printed with required chemical components.
- Defense: Military equipment will be manufactured when and where it is needed.
- Bioprinting: Human organs will be printed when and where required, of the needed specification, and could be transplanted immediately.
- Space: 3D printers will be used to create spare parts and sometimes entirely new spacecraft, using minerals extracted in space.
Video of 3D printing at use in SpaceX.
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