Posted by Alex L.
Featured Image by Mads Boedker
A New Revolution
“The 3D printing revolution is about to change our lives,” says Christopher Barnatt. Right now, you might have to spend your time by going to the store for something you want or need, but in the future, you will be able to make what you want without leaving home. How? A 3D printer.
3D printing is “an additive technology in which objects are built up in a great many very thin layers.” An unlimited number of designs can be made quickly by the dozens of different materials available, and the amount of creativity put into them.
How to Print a 3D Model
The first step is to make a model of an object using a 3D modeling program on a computer, which is connected to the printer. The program then divides it into many thin layers. The model can then be downloaded to the printer, and begin creating the object with a special material. The printer builds it up layer by layer. When the printer is done with the last layer, the product is finished.
The 3D printer already has many uses such as the ability to print human organs (according to CNN), making prototypes of a product, and even 3D printed art. 3D printers have made a large impact because of their rapid prototyping, more detailed products, and its capacity for improvement.
Image by Mirko Tobias Schafer
The 3D printer has an increased capacity for rapid prototyping, which, according to Stratasys, is “the quick fabrication of physical models” that “allows companies to turn innovative ideas into successful end products rapidly and efficiently.” It also allows for people to quickly print any piece of art or object made from scratch.
Because of today’s technology, the printer is becoming more advanced, allowing for it to work more efficiently. This is very beneficial and not only lets it create models rapidly, but also save a lot of time.
Margaret Rouse, an authority in major publications, states that “creating a prototype was time-consuming and expensive, requiring skilled craftsmen and specific machinery.” Now, models can be made not only in factories, but by consumers. People can now print their own objects without spending the time to go and buy what they need.
Although factory prototyping is still around today, 3D printers might make it easier by decreasing the amount of time it takes to send the blueprints and the materials for the model, plus saving the consumer’s time.
This problem has decreased since the 3D printer was made, which now makes prototyping less expensive, faster, and more detailed.
Image by Creative Tools
With the 3D printers advanced technology, it is able to make more intricate and detailed designs. Its design can create high quality designs, and “allow machining parts to be created with high accuracy.” This is because of the unique way the printer produces them.
Before the part is printed, the CAD program divides the 3D computer model into multiple layers, which is what the product is going to be made from. The layers define the resolution (measured in microns) of the product, so, the more layers that the 3D model is divided into, the more intricate and detailed it will be.
Although the developing of the product is in the decision of the designer, “the higher the resolution of the print, the more time the print will take to finish.” However, this does not mean the printer itself is slow, but the product will take longer to print if it is made with a higher resolution than the printer is able to make at its average speed.
The detail of the product may affect the personal value of what’s being printed, and could be worth waiting for (depending on the resolution chosen). As the 3D printer develops, this issue, and other problems, could be fixed.
Image by Creative Tools
Lots of Improvement
The 3D printer is a rapidly advancing technology with room for improvement. This means, as the 3D printer is advancing, it will be able to have many upgrades and features that can increase the speed it works at, make it easier to use for beginners, and eventually make it affordable.
According to reporter Alex Hern, “Netherlands-based Ultimaker focused on refinement rather than revolution,” and added “improvements [to] make it easier to use for beginners, with simpler software, a streamline repository of objects to make and a new printing head which should melt less often.” It’s improvements like these that will make the 3D printer grow in popularity and change the way products are manufactured.
Not only would the improvements on the printer itself help, but the price will also have a significant impact. With the prices getting lower on the printers, more people would buy them, allowing for them to gain experience in what the 3D printer is capable of doing.
Image by Creative Tools
When 3D printers started becoming more advanced, “3D Systems launched the user-friendly […] ($1,425) Cube Printer.” This is considered expensive now, but “at $299, the M3D, […] launch[ed] in January 2015, promise[d] to be a cheap and useable printer.” The price of the 3D printer will likely improve over time, along with the other additions being made to it. This creates a printer that is low cost, and easy to use.
What It All Means
As the 3D printing revolution continues, the 3D printer will grow more in popularity. The growth in the popularity of the printer will be caused by the new and current features being added to it, and partly because of the affordability.
The affordable 3D printers would help large and small businesses make profits, and allow for peoples’ ideas and needs to be printed out at home. The good reviews and profits would cause the 3D printer to be pushed further into development, and increase the possibilities of what could be made from it.
With this new technology on the market, and all the incredible features, most people would be able to have something that suits their needs. These features, including the ability to quickly create objects, to make more intricate and detailed designs, and to improve by developing easier to use software, offer many options for what the printer can be used for.
However, New York Times claims that “the best possible application for 3D printing may be in the brains of the people who are using it.”
As a result of releasing it to the public, more products will be printed, and the 3D printer will grow even more, increasing popularity, and making a large impact on people’s lives with a new technology that has the potential of making almost anything.