What is 3D Printing? (Essay Sample)
On Apr 10th, 2011
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What is 3D Printing?
3D Printing refers to a spectrum of diverse technologies utilized for creating a three dimensional object from a file that is digital. First, the details and size element must be drafted by “computer aided software.” Sometimes called CAD, “the CAD file provides the directions by which the machine builds the project, laying down molecules layer by layer and line by line much like any inkject printer” (Draeger, 2012). The initial start, when coming up with prototypes, began commercially in 1986. Since then, the machines have been slowly progressing in a number of workshops. When they began, they allowed companies a chance at quick production of plastic prototypes but we came to find the most beneficial use came from utilizing the printers as additives to already existing machines. This proved favorable because a product can be produced easier and more rapidly by adding resources rather than subtracting them. It is truly building a product starting with the bottom going up.
What is amazing is that 3D printers have the capability to print shapes that cannot be constructed any other way. “For example, Airbus is using 3D printers to make airplane parts lighter. Also, people with missing limbs can have custom prosthetics 3D printed to their personal shape, capability, and style” (Draeger, 2012). Another positive outcome of using 3D printers is that they result in less waste which is a worthy thing for our planet. Other forms of machining can result in up to 90% of extra metal left over. One of the most extraordinary aspects about utilizing these machines is that companies can create objects or parts on the spot, without having to depend on older systems that had requirements for parts to be made in mass amounts. “To further lower the resource footprint on our products, some researchers are working on attaching recycling machines to allow manufacturers and hobbyists to reduce their ordering of raw injection materials which they have to order from somewhere else” (Draeger, 2012). When it comes to a time when 3D printers are able to encompass the at-home market for personal use, they may be fully constructed systems.
When regular printer items break, people who had access to a 3D printer at home could easily recycle them into the new printer which is a major positive for advocates of recycling. The initial costs will come mainly from the machine itself as well as any added materials that need to be injected or consumed. The type of material you use at home would depend on what the you or your company would like, as well as the printer type, and what material your item to evolve from. 3D printers are so versatile because they are able to create items from a variety of elements: such as food, glass, wood, plastics, living cells, as well as metals. Even though they have such a myriad of capabilities, the cheapest 3D printers available to consumers will mostly be limited to working with plastics. “Consumers are also able to order 3D printed items online, and 3D printer shops similar to Kinkos are opening in local neighborhoods for a faster turnaround. You can find or buy the CAD file for your desired item on the Web, download it, send it to your local print shop, and then go pick up the item in a few hours” (Draeger, 2012). The variety of items one can construct with this machine is as limitless as the innovation of the Internet. One would only have to go online, find the design of their choosing that is correlation with a CAD program and print it. Just like that you could take an old item or something that is ready to be trashed into some new like a lamp. “Or print out a set of Legos for your kids, new food containers, custom iPhone covers, and any other practical plastic curiosity that your household needs” (Draeger, 2012). If this type of printing progresses as it has been, it will not be long before it is available and easy to find in online shops. This could result in a threat to major manufacturers as technology in the digital realm would go from corporate mass models to smaller retail ones. “The mall and the factory — the cornerstones of American consumer culture — will both find themselves increasingly irrelevant” (Draeger, 2012).