3D Printing Association Book Excerpt – What is 3D Printing and What Does 3D Printing Do?

From the book:
How to 3D Print Money Ebook by Bill Decker

“…..Additive manufacturing, is also known as 3D printing, is a high-growth emerging market that’s creating lots of buzz among industry, creative, and do-it-yourself enthusiasts. Corporations have had the use of 3D printing for many years. But now the technology is getting less expensive, easier to operate, and much more versatile.

Think of a statue as an example for traditional manufacturing, which uses (for lack of a better term) subtractive methods like drilling or cutting away to create or release an object from a block of raw material. You take a block of marble and chip away until you get a statue. If the statue is metal, the excess metal is cut away and discarded. If you made the statue the way Michelangelo did, you would see a lot of marble chips laying around when finished.

In contrast, additive manufacturing is just that “it builds an object, in three dimensions, by laying down micro- thin sheets of material in different shapes. It turns a blueprint into a product. This material is usually a liquid resin or plastic material. The material is added a layer at a time, just as ink is laid down from your desktop printer. There is special design software which communicates with the print head. The software tells the printer how and where to deliver the material. It can be very gradual, a micron at a time. Once there is enough material laid down, the end result is an actual object with 3 dimensions. A coffee cup. A building block. A can opener.

A blueprint can be found online and users can create a product with a few mouse clicks. This technology allows companies and individuals to manufacture short runs of products without much labor, shipping or manufacturing knowledge.
However, more than plastic resins can act as the “ink” in 3D printing. Today these print heads use glass, metal alloys, food products, and even body tissue and stem cells. This means we can 3D print knives, guns, body parts, glass, bones, kidneys, dental crowns, hearing aids, and so on. The list is endless. Visit http://3dprintingchannel.com to see more and more applications of this technology.

The industry of 3D printing is becoming one of the world’s hottest and Forbes magazine estimates that the current (2013) $3 billion global market will reach $20 billion by 2015. Other experts say it will be even bigger.

3D printing is expected to knock down barriers in international business. Experts are comparing the innovation to the steam engine and it’s destined to change the entire manufacturing industry. Countries with manufacturing bases are embracing it and fearing it at the same time.
Imagine being able to print out your own eye glasses! Change the frames. Make new colors. Add your brand name. Bend the lens. Add a picture of your dog. Imagine being able to do this in your living room, in a few minutes, and have the eyeglasses ready in a couple of hours!

Why can’t a company make a giant printer head, put it on a big crane, and print something large, like a house? Guess what? It’s happening now.
Thousands of these blueprints are already on the Internet. People can download and change the designs, or work on the blueprint while it is in the cloud. Sites like http://3dprintingchannel.com have libraries of blueprints, ready for use. Once these designs are on the Internet, anyone with an Internet connection can access them. This means some farmer in Romania can access blueprints to build a faucet for his hoses. A Nigerian merchant can make his own sneakers. A homebuilder in Bolivia can design and make a brick. A disabled person in Hungary can customize, print, or order a prosthetic foot.

Since we can print from a blueprint, we also know that we can create our own blueprints. 3D scanning can capture an image and turn the scan into a blueprint. So that Romanian farmer can scan the faucet he has and print a duplicate.

Here is a great example of how that can help anyone, right now:
The process of getting a hearing aid is often an awkward one. Beyond the psychological ramifications of admitting and confronting the need, many patients feel that the fitting experience itself is physically uncomfortable. So imagine going to the audiologist and she scans your ear with a camera. She then tells you to go have a coffee while a perfect, custom fit hearing aid is being printed just for you. While you aren’t printing your own hearing aid and buying plastics and resins to do it, you are still getting the benefit of 3D printing.

Now imagine if I moved to China and lost my hearing aid. Instead of having my audiologist order one, get to a shipping office, pack it, and ship it, she sends me a drawing over the Internet. Or tells me to log into her site from the audiologist’s office in China. Next, we print my custom hearing aid right then and there. No shipping (which means no lost packages), no taxes, no customs, no waiting, no incorrect sizing. This is here (pardon the pun) and now….”

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  1. […] From the book: How to 3D Print Money Ebook by Bill Decker ..Additive manufacturing, is also known as 3D printing, is a high-growth emerging market that’s creating lots of buzz among industry, creative, and do-it-yourself enthusiasts. Corporations have had the use of 3D printing for many years. But now the technology is getting less expensive, easier to operate, and much more versatile. Think of a statue as an example for traditional manufacturing, which uses (for lack of a better term) subtractive methods like drilling or cutting away to create or release an object from a block of raw material. You take a block of marble and chip away until you get a statue. If the statue is metal, the excess metal is cut away and discarded. If you made the statue the way Michelangelo did, you would see a lot of marble chips laying around when finished. In contrast, additive manufacturing is just that “it builds an object, in three dimensions, by laying down micro- thin sheets of material in diffehttp://associationof3dprinting.com/3d-printing-association-book-excerpt-what-is-3d-printing-and-what… […]

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