According to 2014 edition of Wohlers Associates, which is considered as the bible of the industry on 3D printing, there are hundreds of printer brands available in the market. This number is not at all surprising. Focussing on innovative technology and materials and customised products, 3D printing is all set to transform the world. Additive manufacturing or 3D printing is a process to make physical objects from a three-dimensional digital model by laying down thin layers of a given material. These layers are in the form of thinly sliced horizontal cross sections of an object. The global 3D printing industry is anticipated to exceed the mark of $21Billion by 2020.
Let’s have a look at the areas 3D printing has proved advantageous in.
Medical science is exploiting this technology at a significant pace. With the aid of this technology, patients from different parts of the world experience improved quality of prosthetics and implants. The 3D printed body parts are a reality now. Scientists of today use 3D printing for creating artificial organs and then transplant them in the body of needy patients. The deformed babies born without ear are now given artificial ears made with the aid of 3D printing. This technology is the perfect solution to organ transplant challenges.
3D bio printing of human tissues started around 1990. Of late, the implementation and development of this technology are making a shift from printing the tiny sheets of tissue to 3D organs.
3D printing can improve the defence system by creating complex weapons. The experts claim that this technology can be used for creating weapons so small that are hard to detect.
Three-dimensional prints are in news now. Lady Gaga featured a three-dimensional printed dress last year and several shows today feature the 3D printed dresses. However, the real promise of 3D printed dresses lie in wearable tech. The technology, that has acquired popularity in the course of last few years instills intelligence and interactivity into fashion. These take the potential of wearable tech one step far as they allow experimentation of the sensors and materials. Anouk Wipprecht, a Belgian designer collaborated with Intel for designing the Spider dress, which is a 3D printed garment. The dress reacts to a proximal movement as it is fitted with sensors.
Inspite of the fact that the automotive industry was one of the earliest adopters of 3D printing, for decades, it has relegated this technology chiefly to low volume prototyping applications. Now, its use in the automotive industry is evolving from the comparatively simple concept models to functional parts that are being used in engines and test vehicles.
This is used for creating prototype designs for research and traditional manufacturing, referred to as Rapid Prototyping. 3D printing allows faster development of ideas. The ability to 3D print concepts shrink the development process helping organisations stay a step ahead of competition. The 3D printing process facilitates the creation of tools and parts through additive manufacturing at rates lower than the traditional modes. Similarly, Rapid Manufacturing is the process of manufacturing; the printed objects here are not prototypes but real end user product.
3D printing technology is popularly in use in architecture. 3D printed homes are in vogue now. Using 3D printing in constructing houses has 2 benefits.
·Reduced manual labour
·Usage of biodegradable or renewable materials in construction
The benefits brought in for the architects include
·Transformation of drawings and sketches to tangible models
·Aids in communicating ideas to colleagues and clients alike
·Ensures design freedom
3D printing has immense potential for translating imagination into reality. Today, we can 3D print almost everything we imagine. The enthusiasts and hobbyists exploit this technology for adding multiple dimensions to their concepts and ideas.
3D printing is introduced in schools. Most design and art schools have incorporated it in the learning curriculum and already beginning to teach usage of 3D modelling tools like Google SketchUp. This will help nurture professional designers for fabricating advanced 3D objects in near future.
Given the opportunities in this sector and rapid development of technology, we can say that 3D printing will take over more industries in the future.