What you need to know about 3D printing

3D printers are a new generation of machines that can make everyday things.

It seems that everyone is talking about 3D printing these days, but what exactly is it?

Here’s a quick guide to what all the hype is about.

3D printers are a new generation of machines that can make everyday things. They’re remarkable because they can produce different kinds of objects, in different materials, all from the same machine.

This innovative machine can make pretty much anything from ceramic cups to plastic toys, metal machine parts, stoneware vases and fancy chocolate cakes.

They are replacing traditional factory production lines with a single machine.

How it works

You start by designing a 3D object on an ordinary home computer, connect it to a 3D printer, press ‘print’ and then sit back and watch. The process is a bit like making a loaf of sliced bread, but in reverse. Imagine baking each individual slice of bread and then gluing them together into a whole loaf.

The printing process turns a whole object into thousands of tiny little slices, then makes it from the bottom-up, slice by slice. Those tiny layers stick together to form a solid object. Each layer can be very complex, meaning 3D printers can create moving parts like hinges and wheels as part of the same object.

Limitations

Although buying a 3D printer is much cheaper than setting up a factory, the cost per item you produce is higher, so the economics of 3D printing don’t stack-up against traditional mass production yet.

It also can’t match the smooth finish of industrial machines, nor offer the variety of materials or range of sizes available through industrial processes.

But, like so many household technologies, the prices will come down and 3D printer capabilities will improve over time.

Information obtained from www.3dprinting.com.

  AUTHOR
Carmen Norton

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