3D printing, also known by the name additive manufacturing is the process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file, typically by laying down many successive thin layers of a material. It enables you to produce complex shapes using less material than traditional manufacturing methods.
History of 3D Printing:
3D printing technologies first became visible in the late 1980’s.The name given to it at that time was Rapid Prototyping technologies. This is because the processes were originally conceived as a fast and more cost effective method for creating prototypes for product development within industry.
The very first patent application for rapid prototyping technology was filed by a Dr Kodama from Japan in May 1980. 3D technologies first commercial rapid prototyping system ( SLA-1) was introduced in 1987.The first of these system was sold in 1988. In 1990’s and early 2000’s a bunch of new technologies continued to be introduced which were focused on industrial applications.
Research and development was also being conducted by the more advanced technology providers. It was during this phase, new terminology Rapid Tooling (RT), Rapid Casting and Rapid Manufacturing (RM) respectively was emerged. In 2007, the market saw the first system under $10,000 from 3D Systems, but this never quite hit the mark that it was supposed to. This was partly due to the system itself but also due to other market influences.
But it wasn’t until January 2009 that the first commercially available 3D printer in kit form which was based on the RepRap concept was offered for sale. The RepRap phenomenon has given rise to a whole new sector of commercial and entry level 3D printers. 2012 was the year that alternative 3D printing processes were introduced to the market. The B9 Creator (utilising DLP technology) came first in June, followed by the Form 1 (stereolithography) in December. Both were launched via the funding site Kickstarter and both enjoyed huge success.
3D Printing At Present:
From industrial prototyping and manufacturing process, 3D printing technology has become more accessible to small companies and even individuals.
Engineering efforts are generally focused on three main factors, simplicity, efficiency and quality. It is vitally important to provide access to these technologies to a greater percentage of the target population and in the case of efficiency it would be qualified in terms of time used in tools. We see how the use of simulation driven design as well as the creation and optimization of design tools have generated these impacts additionally in terms of quality. It is evaluated with the improvement in the solvers used which allows to analyze more complex scenarios and more specific applications.
The different types of 3D printers employ a different technology that processes different materials in different ways. It is important to understand that one of the most basic limitations of 3D printing in terms of materials and applications is that some 3D printer process powdered materials (nylon, plastic, ceramic, metal) which utilize a light/heat source to melt or fuse layers of the powder together in the defined shape. Others process uses polymer resin materials and again utilize a light/laser to solidify the resin in ultra thin layers. Jetting of fine droplets, reminiscent of 2D inkjet printing are the different 3D printing processes.
Perhaps the most common and easily recognized process is deposition this process is employed by the majority of entry level 3D printers. Because the parts can be printed directly, it is possible to produce very detailed and intricate objects often with functionality built in and also nullifies the need for assembly.
The use of 3D printing technology has potential effects on the global economy. The shift of production and distribution from the current model to a localized production based on demand, on site, customized production model could potentially reduce the imbalance between export and import between countries. 3D printing has the potential to create new industries and completely new professions. There are opportunities for professional services around 3D printing ranging from new forms of product designers, printer operators and material suppliers to intellectual property legal disputes and settlements. Piracy is a current concern related to 3D printing for many IP holders.
Future of 3D Printing
Most of the current demand for 3D printing is industrial in nature. According to the latest reports 3D printing market is up to reach $41 billion by 2026. 3D printing comprises many forms of technologies and materials. It is being used in almost all industries you could think of like:
There are a number of limitations to traditional manufacturing, which is widely been based on human labor and so 3D printing technology is a success as it requires less human labor . However, the world of manufacturing has changed and automated processes such as machining, casting, forming and molding are all new and complex processes that requires machines, computers and robot technology.
3d printing’s potential is larger than that of Internet.
3D Printing is the next big thing!