WHAT IS 3D PRINTING
3D printing is a revolutionary technology that has really become popular and affordable in the past 2 to 3 years.
It is an additive manufacturing process of making 3 dimensional solid objects that can be of any shape. Up till few years back what we had heard of is a normal printer that prints pages. when i first heard about 3D printer i was so astonished that how come a 3D object can be printed.
HOW 3D PRINTER WORKS
3D printing is a process of additive manufacturing in which material is added layer by layer. Below is the picture of the printer
In any 3D printer there would be an extruder and a bed as shown in the picture above. The job of the extruder is to heat the material used for printing and convert it into thin fiber while the bed is heated so that the model remain stacked to the bed when the printing is going on. I made a video while i was printing a model. This video might be useful in understanding the process of printing.
There are two materials ABS(Acrylonytrile butadiene styrene) and PLA(polylactic acid) which are generally used although with each passing day new materials and new improvements are appearing in this technology.
ABS is a petroleum based product . it is tough,flexible and sturdy can withstand high temperature the only down side to it i see is that it is non biodegradable. It also require that the 3Dprinter has to be operated at slightly higher temperature when compared with PLA.
PLA on the other hand is a biodegradable material since it is based on corn starch,sugarcane,tapioca roots and potato starch it is usually used for applications like medical sutures and medical implants(it degrades in the body over time),food packaging,disposable food utensils etc. the downside to it is that it is not as sterdy as ABS,so not be used to model such things where there will be strain .
3D PRINTER : THE ADDED ADVANTAGE FOR DESIGNERS
3D printer is a great asset to have on a developers desk. It gives you an edge over the designers not using this technology . It saves a lot of time and money. lets take an example suppose one have to create a design of an en-closer for LED lamp. Once you create the design you can export it and print it on a printer and you can actually have the actual experience of the product ,this will enable you to analyse the ergonomics and end user experience in a better way.I designed a lamp below is the design as it looked on the software
3D printed Parts
Different parts of 3D printer
Finally after testing and installing electronics. (how handsome i look. marvellous :))
Gartner has also predicted that this technology will shape the business in future.
following is an excerpt from gartner report.
Escalation of 3D Printing Capabilities Will Change Retail Models and Threaten Intellectual Property. he technology of 3D "bioprinting" (the medical application of 3D printing to produce living tissue and organs) is advancing so quickly that it will spark a major ethical debate on its use by 2016, according to Gartner Inc. At the same time, 3D printing of non-living medical devices such as prosthetic limbs, combined with a burgeoning population and insufficient levels of healthcare in emerging markets, is likely to cause an explosion in demand for the technology by 2015.
"3D bioprinting facilities with the ability to print human organs and tissue will advance far faster than general understanding and acceptance of the ramifications of this technology," said Pete Basiliere, research director at Gartner. Already in August 2013, the Hangzhou Dianzi University in China announced it had invented the biomaterial 3D printer Regenovo, which printed a small working kidney that lasted four months. Earlier in 2013, a two-year-old child in the US received a windpipe built with her own stem cells.There are immense applications of this technology ,we can bring our imagination to reality using this technology.