What can be done using a 3D printer? Why is 3D printing technology a watchword now-a-days? Read on to find out 10 things you should know about it.
A printer is usually associated with creating written material such as letters, brochures, marketing material, and other documents.
But the latest thing in technology is the 3D printer, which “prints” solid objects, based on a computer-readable design. 3D printing, also called additive manufacturing, builds objects by placing layer after layer of material.
While 3D printers can work with over 100 different materials, the most commonly used raw materials are thermoplastics such as polylactic acid (PLA) and acrylonitrile but adiene styrene (ABS).
#1. Create Sculptures
The art world has considerably changed due to the advent of 3D technology. Now, artists can develop their own designs for sculptures that can be fed into computers linked to 3D printers. Depending on the material used, different sizes and shapes can be produced by the 3D printers.
An artist from Romania called “Ioan Florea” uses plastic molds created from 3D printers to build sculptures out of liquid nano-metals. He has been able to create massive objects like cars and covered wagons as well.
#2. Make Your Own Jewelry
3D printing has made it possible to create your own jewelry that looks exactly like the ones displayed at major retail outlets. What’s more, it comes at a much cheaper price and it can be customized to suit your taste. You can also choose the material you want to work with, although different materials may require specialized 3D printers.
A company called American Pearl is offering customers the choice to modify jewelry designs as they like and having the final product delivered to their homes in a few days. The company profits by not having to hire people to customize jewelry pieces according to client specifications.
#3. Make Your Personal Accessories
3D printed clothes have made a splash in the fashion world. Accessories such as baseball caps and fedoras can be created using appropriate 3D printers. You can print your own unique design sitting at home.
Retail companies have also been quick to catch on to this trend. Continuum, a clothing company based in San Francisco, creates 3D printed bikinis made of nylon. Clients can provide their body measurements and pick their designs.
#4. Create Your Own Shoes
Do you find yourself spending a wee bit too much on your footwear? 3D printing can wipe your guilt away. Shoes can be 3D “printed” using plastic and thermoplastic polyurethane, a material similar to rubber. The cost of “manufacturing” your own shoes in this way becomes much less in the long run.
#5. “Print” Organs
The paucity of organ donors is a big problem in the medical world, due to which patients needing a transplant have to wait for a very long time. With 3D printing, it is potentially possible to “print” the required organ using tissue from the patient.
#6. Create 3D Prototypes Quickly
Currently, the most common use for 3D printers is to quickly create a 3D prototype. Called “rapid models,” they are tiny versions of life-size objects such as cars, mechanical parts, and organs. Speedy production of prototypes accelerates research and development.
#7. Produce Artificial Limbs
In the future, with more advanced 3D printing technology, it may be possible to create artificial limbs. This will be most beneficial for accident victims. Since customization is possible, the limb can be created to the patient’s specifications, thus increasing the chances of a better fit.
#8. Manufacture Vehicle Parts
3D printers can potentially create automobile parts, airplane or jet parts, or even parts of satellites. With more advances, the time taken to produce these parts and the cost will effectively come down.
#9. Enter a Whole New Economy
3D printing technology can change the entire way we consume goods and services. Instead of buying a product from retail outlets, a customer can download its blueprints and “manufacture” it at home. This scenario is one step ahead of online shopping.
#10. Ability To Customize Everything
Lastly, 3D printing technology provides the customer with the power to custom order any object they wish to buy. The era of mass manufacturing may soon be replaced by individualized, unique products.
The promise of 3D printing is exciting, and while the technology has been around for the last decade, it is only now that significant advances have been made. As technological improvements further bring down cost and improve speed, a 3D printed world may become a reality.
Garry Forster is an Online Consultant for 3DStuffmaker.com. He likes to blog on 3D printing Events, Ideas, Technologies which are related to 3D Printing and 3D Printing Tutorial.