Ever heard this term?
Did you search Wikipedia and found it too incomprehensible?
Wikipedia says: 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing (AM), refers to processes used to synthesize a three-dimensional object in which successive layers of material are formed under computer control to create an object.
Okay! Let’s get into this!
Invented by a man named Chuck Hull back in 1986, 3D printing is a process of taking a digital 3D model and turning that digital file into a physical object. While Hull went on to launch one of the world’s largest 3D printer manufacturers, 3D Systems, his invention concentrated solely on a fabrication process called Stereo lithography (SLA). Since that time, numerous other 3D printing technologies have been developed; such as Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM)/Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF), Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), PolyJetting and others. All of these rely on layer-by-layer fabrication and are based on a computer code fed to the printer.
Imagine yourself designing a shoe on your computer and immediately able to print it out right in front of your eyes. Now think about all the objects that you could make. Phone cases, clothes etc; all of which could be designed for you and by you! The more technical term for this is Mass Customization.
How do 3D printers work then?
These steps tell you how the 3D printers work!
1. The 3D printer spreads out a layer of fine powder.
2. A laser hardens the powder in that layer that comprises the bottom slice of your part
3. A new layer of fine powder is spread out. The next slice of your part is hardened and joined to the first.
4. The rest of the powder remains loose. This supports the part as it is built up.
5. This is repeated many times until your part is built.
6. Then your part is lifted from the loose powder.
7. It is then sandblasted and finished by hand.
What then are the benefits of using this technology?
3D printing lowers the bar to make something and try it out. It expands the long tail of niche products that are possible that wouldn't have been made otherwise with traditional manufacturing technique. The availability to customize your objects according to your liking, making them unique is something we could achieve with this technology in place. We all have personal preferences in matter of clothing and food. This fulfils them!
Yes. It’s very interesting. Pal!