3D printing in its present forms involves the creation of a three dimensional physical model by using additive manufacturing technology, in essence, working much like a laser printer except instead of printing horizontally, it prints vertically from a flat surface.
Where is it?
Right now, companies such as HP are slowly releasing 3D printing technology into the marketplace but the entire process is still rather slow and expensive. It’s still a very niche technology but the opportunities are tremendous. Once 3D printing hits the consumer masses, the money will be made from selling the material much like ink jet printers today, not the physical printers themselves. This will revolutionize entire segments of our society! Right now, it’s rare to find one in a home though business adoption of this technology is growing rapidly, this will soon change.
Who uses 3D printers?
Right now, 3D printers are mostly in the hands of industrial or health companies, needing rapid prototyping of their products but this is rapidly changing. Companies from fashion to aerospace and architects see tremendous opportunity in being able to manufacture parts in house without having the hassle of dealing with suppliers, distribution or logistical headaches.
What kind of resolution can 3D printers provide?
Although IBM has done some 3D printing at the atomic scale, for the industrial and consumer machine, they are usually able to achieve a resolution in-between 50 to 100 micrometers (0.05-0.1mm), the size of their 3D dots.
Future applications of 3D printing
The possibilities that 3D printing are limitless, from “printing” human replacement parts to alchemy, the potential isn’t enormous, it’s GINORMOUS! Don’t want to go to the retail store to buy a shirt? You can print it at home using the material of choice… if it’s raining, make your own rain jacket to the latest fashion. Want to eat some salmon? Well, you can 3D print it! A lot of this technology already exists, but large hurdles still remain.
Why use 3D printing in the first place?
Other than what was already written, 3D printing also provides a host of benefits to the consumer and end-user. Here are a few of them!
- create almost “instant” prototypes to test machine parts and models in the physical world.
- no longer does inventory need to be kept, like my other business (WoodMarvels.com), things can be produced on demand, saving lots of money and time for all involved.
- no need to glue together separate parts as, even moving parts, can be all produced together in one shot… even interlocking ones, within a 3D environment.
- delivery can be done digitally (the whole focus of 3DMarvels.com)
The Bottom Line
Like laser cutters and CNC routers… 3D printers are cool!