3D printing has been around since the 80s but was limited to large-scale, expensive operations. Today, however, this process has become increasingly available for smaller scale use and a wider range of applications.
How It Works
Computers are usually used to create a model to print. A computer program can create a model to print. Another option is to scan an object into the computer linked to the printer. Both ways effectively generate the necessary information for the print.
From there, it goes through the modeling software to be “sliced” — a method of dividing the model into layers for assembly after printing. After slicing, it goes to the printer which will process the model per slice. After that, thermoplastic welding rods are used to bind the pieces and complete the model.
Where It’s Used
Multiple industries make use of 3D printing and for multiple purposes. Architecture is one field that has made great use of the process, going as far as to print model houses. Another field that has taken advantage of this technology is science.
It has also been useful in reconstructing scientific findings in archaeology and paleontology, allowing the creation tangible models that anyone can view. On the lighter side, fields like fashion and movies have also made use of 3D printing to make prototypes for new shoe designs as well as masks.
How Far It Can Go
Over time, developments in technology can bring out further use for 3D printing and a wider range of industries. Different materials are being developed and tested for the purpose, among them, plans to use them in the medical field.
3D printing can create artificial body parts to transplant, addressing organ donation shortages and reducing the wait time for testing donors and recipients for compatibility.
Aside from this, it can also help improve the creation of prosthetics, making them more comfortable for the user and with a better sensory system to function with.
Wondering what else 3D printing can do? Take a look around. Given time, it may become possible to replicate anything.