What Is 3D Printing?

3D Printing is literally the process of printing 3D objects. So rather than adding ink to paper, 3D printers are able to mold and create objects when given the necessary materials. 3D Printing dates back farther than most realize, and does not reflect the science fiction-esc persona that some imagine. The truth is, 3D printing is real and it is here, the question is how it will integrate with our society and affect the world’s economy.

How Does It Work?

It’s pretty cool, actually. 3D images are analyzed and translated from your computer to your printer. From there, your device will scan the information provided until your 3D modeling software connects your computer with the scanner to make it all work.

Once your computer and printer have the information it needs, a separate slicing software will cut a 3D model. These can be molded in many different ways! Once your mold has been sliced, the information can be fed to your printer.

Keep in mind that everything from the scanner, to the molding and slicing softwares vary by quite a bit, ranging from huge industrial models to smaller versions you can use at home. Like anything else, the cost will impact the quality. The differences will stand with the scanning accuracy, cutting precision, and time it takes to complete the process in full.

The History of 3D Printing

Believe it or not, 3D printing has been around for over 30 years. In 1981 an Industrial Research Institution published the first workings of what would become a 3D printer. This is what’s known as the start of additive manufacturing.

A few years later, steroligraphy was born, which allowed designers to use digital technology to make 3D models. These models could then be molded into real objects. This was the start of 3D printing that we know better today.

From here, the true development of 3D printing started in the early 2000s. The medical industry see enormous potential with the new technology and that gave rise to artificially made, 3D printed organs that could be used for transplants. Organs ranging from bladders to kidneys were being made, which started prosthetic limbs and so much more. 3D printing was then seen as the potential future for surgical practices.

In 2005, inventors started getting a little crazy with their visions of 3D printing. Crazy smart! This was the start of 3D printers that could print parts for more 3D printers. It’s like printing inception! This took much of the same technology used for medical professionals and large scaled manufactures into the homes of many that wanted to 3D print their own items. From here, creative thinkers and designers were given Shapeways which is a marketplace for designers to get opinions on their ideas, both from a consumer and user’s perspective.

3D Printing Today

Today, people can pretty much print whatever they want (within reason). From personal to business printing, the possibilities are growing at such a rate that it’s hard to see the limitations.

From the manufacturing side, look for better collaboration between new softwares and hardware. This will make the process easier for end-users and faster for manufacturers, making production faster and more cost-efficient.

The Projections of Impact

Looking forward, there have been many debates on the impact of 3D printing and how regularly it will be adopted by everyday people.

What it comes down to is cost. If people can print what they need in a cost-effective manner, they would be able to cut out the middleman (the distributor and in some cases, the manufacturer) to get what they need faster and easier.

Then what would this mean for select industries, and on a broader scale – the economy? Will this change modern day consumerism, especially in the wake of an era of technological adoption that we have never before seen?

The truth is, more industries are embracing 3D printing and this has the potential to impact the landscape of the manufacturing and logistics economy.

The Projections of Impact

It really comes down to cost and we really believe that this will explode. The question is when, because we know it’s only a matter of time. As the cost continues to drop, more and more people will adopt the new system of printing, both from a manufacturing and consumer perspective.

What do you think? Do you use a 3D printer? Do you see new industries adopting it anytime soon or will it take more time? Let us know in the comments below!