The Development of 3D Printing Technology


3D printing or additive manufacturing is a process for making a physical object from a three-dimensional digital model or other electronic data source, typically by laying down many successive thin layers of a material. Each of these layers can be seen as a thinly sliced horizontal cross-section of the object.

The areas where 3D printing has proven to be immensely advantageous are:

Medical Industry. Medical science is exploiting this technology at an extremely rapid pace. With the advent of this technology, patients around the world are able to experience improved quality of 3D printed implants and prosthetics.

Aerospace and aviation industries. The developments in the metal additive manufacturing sector has largely boosted the utilization of 3D printing technology in the aerospace and aviation industries. NASA for example prints combustion chamber liners using selective laser melting and as of march 2015 the FAA cleared GE Aviation's first 3D printed jet engine part to fly, a laser sintered housing for a compressor inlet temperature sensor.

Automotive industry. Despite the fact that the automotive industry was among the earliest adopters of 3D printing, it has for decades relegated 3d printing technology to low volume prototyping applications. These days, the use of 3D printing in automotive is evolving from relatively simple concept models for fit and finish checks and design verification, to functional parts that are used in test vehicles, engines, and platforms. It is expected that 3D printing in the automotive industry will grow very rapidly.

Industrial printing. 3D printing technology is used to create prototype designs for traditional manufacturing and research purposes, which is called Rapid Prototyping. 3D printing allows designs to develop faster than ever. Being able to 3D print a concept shrinks the development process, helping companies stay ahead of their competitions. Prototyping injection mold tools and production runs are expensive investments. The 3D printing process allows the creation of parts and/or tools through additive manufacturing at rates much lower than traditional machining. Similarly, Rapid Manufacturing is a method of manufacturing where companies use 3D printers for short run custom manufacturing. In this process of manufacturing, the printed objects are not prototypes but the actual end user product.

Personalized Printing. 3D printing holds immense potential to translate imagination into reality. Given the boom in digital art and design, we can now 3D print almost anything we imagine after drawing it up virtually. Hobbyists and enthusiasts can exploit the technology to add multiple dimensions to their idea and concepts.

Given the huge bank of opportunities in this sector and the rapid development of this technology, we can expect that 3D printing may soon take over many more industries, and many startups and entrepreneurs around the world are seeing immense potential in 3D printing technologies.



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