Three-dimensional (3D) printing, also known as additive manufacturing or rapid prototyping, is the process of creating three-dimensional objects from digital files. Working one layer at a time, 3D printers can create complex shapes at a speed that rivals traditional manufacturing methods.. A short list below shows what 3d printers can do and scientists are already work on making human organs and skin:
The US Department of Energy states in an article: “3D printing has the potential to revolutionize manufacturing, allowing companies (and individuals) to design and produce products in new ways while reducing material waste, saving energy and shortening the time it takes to bring products to market. Depending on the size and complexity of the project, a 3D printer can take anywhere from minutes to days to produce an object.
Although it may seem that 3D printing only came into existence a few years ago, it has been around for over 50 years. It was patent expiration – first published in the 1980s — which changed everything, from accessibility to price. As a result, in 2009 the price of 3D printers fell from around $10,000 to less than $1,000. And DIY kits have allowed people to build their own 3D printers. In 2019, as more and more patents expired, more than 170 3D printer manufacturers entered the market.
The science behind 3D printers
As ordinary inkjet printers establish a Single layer of ink on a sheet of paper to form an image, 3D printers add multiple layers of material on top of each other. Based on a design downloaded from a digital file, the 3D printer creates a blueprint of the object’s design from computer-aided design software. The US Department of Energy compares 3D printing to rock formations, such as stalactites and stalagmites. Dripping water forms these rocks as thin layered mineral deposits on top of each other. In 3D printing, instead of mineral deposits, thin layers of plastic, metal, ceramic or even cells form until the object is finished, depending on the design software.
Because the added materials create 3D objects, the process is also known as “additive manufacturing”. Alternatively, traditional manufacturing processes called “subtractive manufacturing” start with excess materials that you have to cut out. While conventional manufacturing results in a lot of waste – up to 30 pounds of material for every pound used – Use of 3D printings 98 percent of the raw materials for the construction of an object.
The Coolest Things 3D Printers Can Do
Because the price of 3D printers continues to decline, innovators continue to expand the list of materials to be used – from chocolate and other food products to human cells. And, while it’s fun to find restaurants that will serve you 3D-printed food, 3D printing is changing course medical technology and even space exploration.
At Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC, for example, they use 3D printers to create custom prostheses and implants. Soldiers with head injuries receive 3D-printed titanium cranial implants. And, although we’re not there yet, researchers are working on ways to 3D print human organs with live cells, creating livers or kidneys for those in need of transplants.
People also use 3D printers To build houses — a game changer for affordable housing advocates. Earlier this year, National Public Radio (NPR) reported how Habitat for Humanity built two 3D-printed homes. They printed lines of wet concrete to build walls at the construction site.
“The printer moves a steel rail back and forth between the columns that straddle the job site. Following automated plans, he gradually lays a line of wet concrete a few centimeters thick. Then he wraps a layer on top of the last, building the interior and exterior walls of the three 1,700 square foot chambers,” NPR reports. in an article. Habitat for Humanity built a 3D-printed house in Arizona and another in Virginia.
If you are thinking of investing in a home 3d printer, you can find them online at big box stores and even in physical stores. Or, if you don’t want to make the investment, there are dozens of online printing services that will allow you to order custom 3D items.