Do you guess ? what is 3D printing ?. 3D printing is a process of creating a three dimensional solid objects from a digital machine. The other name of 3D printing is additive manufacturing. It is a step by step process to create layers until the object is crated. In other words thin layers finite sections are processed of the object. 3D printing is the opposite of subtractive manufacturing which is cutting out / hollowing out a piece of metal or plastic with for instance a milling machine.
HISTORY OF 3D PRINTING
The concept of additive manufacturing is not new but the demand and technological developments have created its space in 21st century. Hideo Kodama, a researcher of Nagoya Municipal Industrial Research Institute created a functional rapid-prototyping model in 1981. He used photopolymers and printed a model in layers. Each layer of the model was in the form of cross-sectional slice. In the same decade a kind of acrylic material also known as photopolymer used to produce 3D object with the help of UV laser beam. This process is called stereolithography. This was the turning pint of 3D model design and production.
The new term “additive manufacturing” comes into picture and the manufactures took interest in 3D printing technology. A patent was issued to Stratasys in the topic “the fused deposition modeling” in the year 1992. Various cad design tools plays important role to design 3D models and it was become easier to apply additive manufacturing. The first 3D printed kidney was produced in the year 2000. The researchers are using the kidneys for their experiments and successfully applied in organs transplantation.
The year 2004 was very popular for the 3D printing industry because ‘REPREP’ initiated. The main attraction in this project was replicating of self images. The first high definition color 3D printer came into use on 2005. ZCorp launched it. Prosthetic limbs is used by Millions of people. The 3D scanning combined with 3D printer, has huge application in the medical industry. Prosthesis and orthosis are more and more cheap and faster to get for the patient.
How it works ?
The working of a 3D process starts with creation of a model using CAD software. This model can be extracted from the library. There are many different software tools are available. Tinkercad is one of them and it is recommended for beginners. It is free and need not to download separately in the computer. Now that you have a printable file, the next step is to prepare it for your 3D printer. This is called slicing. Slicing basically means slicing up a 3D model into hundreds or thousands of layers and is done with the machine. This process is checked in animations before actually process started. Thus there are no chances of errors in product.
3D PRINTING vs. CONVENTIONAL MANUFACTURING
Additive manufacturing is a very special tool for manufacturing and prototyping of product. Due to its special characteristics, it is best applicable for specific applications. The manufacturing industry based on three main technologies. Additive manufacturing (3D printing), subtractive manufacturing (CNC machining) and formative manufacturing (Injection Molding). Here in this article all technologies are categorized in two types’ i.e. 3D printing technology and Conventional Technology (CNC and molding). It may be noted that for larger production (more than 1000 parts), molding technologies are more cost effective and usually make the most financial sense. Still modern CNC technologies have no replacement because additive technology is not matured enough to compete. But in near future this gap will be filled and additive manufacturing will be universal manufacturing techniques. It was assumed that all technologies can produce the part geometry. When this is not the case, 3D printing is generally the preferred manufacturing solution.
|3D PRINTING||CONVENTIONAL MANUFACTURING|
|Reduction of wastage materials||Not possible|
|Creation of complex shapes||Very difficult to crate complex parts with accuracy|
|Short production is less||Production time is high|
|Importance of the speed to market||Difficult to do that|
|Small parts can be easily manufactured with accuracy||Difficult to do that|
|Prototyping is possible||Prototyping is possible but not cost effective|
|Not possible for all materials||Can be done|
ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGIES
- Material Extrusion: Material is selectively dispensed through a nozzle or orifice
- Vat Polymerization : Liquid photopolymer in a vat is selectively cured by UV light
- Powder Bed Fusion: A high-energy source selectively fuses powder particles
- Material Jetting: Droplets of material are selectively deposited and cured
- Binder Jetting : Liquid bonding agent selectively binds regions of a powder bed
- Direct Energy Deposition: A high-energy source fuses material as it is deposited
- Sheet Lamination: Sheets of material are bonded and formed layer-by-layer.
APPLICATION OF 3D PRINTING
There are many applications of additive manufacturing in the modern life. From house hold to medical equipment’s to space research, additive manufacturing has captured a large market. The following are some major applications:
1. Automotive Industry
Car manufacturers are considering additive manufacturing technology and utilizing 3D printing for a long time. Automobile companies are manufacturing spare parts with this new technology. This is very flexible to change the design and thus fulfilling the demand. Recently the whole car body was designed and successfully trialed. Thus this reduces so many parts to be joined together with nut and bolts. Also this provides more strength, flexible in design, quick change in design and it is more economical.
2. Aviation Industry
Like automotive industry, the aviation industry is not behind the race. They are applying 3D printing in many different ways. For aviation industry leakage and weight plays an important role. Generally there are many parts to be welded in such types of structure. GE Aviation has used Cobalt-chrome fuel nozzles for its aircraft engines in 3D printing. This is one of the most popular aircraft engine manufacturers and its high level of efficiency and performance. GE’s fuel nozzles also made their way into the Boeing 787 Dream liner, but it’s not the only 3D printed part in the 787.
3. Construction Industry
The construction industry is also applying this technology for not only printing a building but also various components associated with it. Interior and exterior design with 3D printing is also able to make modern generation infrastructure.
4. Consumer Products
This technology has many products for consumers and millions are adopting these products worldwide. Few of them are: 3D printed biodegradable stationery, 3D printed e-commerce service & showerheads, 3D-printed carbon fiber bike, 3D-printed helmet liners, audio set 3D printed from sand 3D-printed razor handles etc.
The top leaders in the shoe industry have successfully launched their 3D printed shoes in their global market. Adidas, Nike and Reebok are few examples. Thus shoes have become more reliable, cheap and beautifully designed to attract their customers. With the advancement of 3D scanning and 3D printing technologies, the mass production of custom-fit footwear may become the new norm in the industry sooner rather than later.
It is expected that the market of 3D printed eyewear will reach $3.5 billion by 2028. A rapidly increasing product is that of end-use eye frames. These frames are reliable, flexible and trending in design. 3D printing is a suitable manufacturing method for eyewear frames because it suits each every individual measurement. Apart from frames, lenses too are produced in large scale with variety options. Conventional glass lenses don’t come with thin and light in weight. There is huge loss of glass materials while making lenses and accuracy of power another concern. 3D printing technology has advanced enough to provide high-quality and customized lenses. The 3D printer uses a UV-curable acrylate monomer to print two pairs of lenses per hour that require no polishing.
If you are looking for something special, personal and outstanding then 3D printed jewelry is perfect for you. A large numbers of attractive jewelry products are available everywhere in the market. Some of them are: Dove’s Nest Penchant, Antelope Ring, Silver Orchid Necklace, Earrings, Crown Ring, Pronto 3D Earrings, Wearable Planter Vase, Pendant, Silver Bamboo Cuff.
8. Medical Industry
Many miracles are happening every day in the medical industry as far as 3D printing is concerned. It is common these days to hear headlines about 3D printed implants. Many of the health care products are already in the market and many are in the research and developments stage. Definitely this technology will make headlines for millions of people. The 3D printing splints, medical tools used before and after surgeries or other necessary means for healing could result in saving huge amounts of savings. And there are already brilliant examples on the market how to do it! More and more, 3D printed medical devices are making the lives of doctors and patients easier. Learn about some of the many kinds of devices that already exist!
Finger splints, Tumor models, Organ models, Personalized plaster casts, Low-Cost Prosthetic Parts, Heart valve, Replicating human ears, Synthetic organs, Drug-Infused Stents, Bandages and Surgical Instruments are few examples of additive manufacturing in the field of medical industry.
9. Education Industry
Academicians, researchers and students are using 3D printers in the classroom since long. 3D printing helps students to innovate their ideas in a fast and affordable way. There are many educational courses are available and one can take the advantages to play with 3D printing. Many school, colleges and universities are offering courses on additive manufacturing with hands on experiments. Students are able to design prototype models with the help of CAD software and then post process the file to printing machine. Thus there is a chance for the next generations to create job opportunity in the field of additive manufacturing.