The rise and potential of 3D printing
- Date: April 14th, 2016
- Author: admin
By Philip Piletic
What started out as a decades-old idea, emerging from the realm of Star Trek with fictional food and 3D object replicators, has given rise to modern 3D printing. Once again, science fact is catching up to science fiction. Today we are able to print 3D objects, which is a huge improvement over more labor-intensive methods of creating components for machines and other industrial purposes. While CAD has been around for some time, being able to scan and immediately print components becomes an augmentation of functional applications, in terms of modern manufacturing, across a broad spectrum of businesses and industries relying on parts for all sorts of varied projects. Such applications are the focus of interest at leading computer and technical schools, those pushing the envelope with studying this type of emerging technological advancement.
Introducing 3D Printing
In July, 1984, as 3D printing was coming of age, a group patent was introduced for the stereolithography process utilized in the first efficient 3D printing procedures. According to Engineer3d, this advancement has since given rise to the evolution of modern 3D printing methodologies. Today, more than three decades later, 3D printers are capable of advancing production by applying materials to objects one layer at a time. This layering approach helps to ensure efficient manufacturing of the parts being forged in the 3D printing process. It also suggests that if you can imagine it, you can likely print it into being.
The Benefits and Potential of 3D Printing Technology for Students and Business
As 3D printing becomes more mainstream to business operations, this will in turn open up a whole new field of study for 3D-manufacturing degree programs. Businesses, now able to manufacture all that they need in-house to reduce problems with product logistics, will upgrade workstations with 3D printing capabilities for specific product manufacturing and smoother assembly line production purposes. According to article posted on Fortune, this transition will equally require the need for highly trained individuals in 3D design and printing applications to man these part and product manufacturing facilities. As a result, the role of logistics, which are involved in business-driven supply chains, will tend more toward raw-material shipments, rather than product shipments. In turn, demand for raw materials needed in 3D printing applications should tend to increase as 3D printing becomes more widely used. Equally important, with 3D printing costs lowering in the foreseeable future, individual entrepreneurs will also be able to utilize 3D printing technologies for all sorts of small business applications; thus, making the demand for 3D printing proficiencies a must as industries head into the beginning phases of the next industrial revolution.
Usual and Unusual Applications of 3D Printing
Since 3D printing makes it possible for businesses to print parts they need on site, this leads us to the question of what sorts of parts and products are being produced with 3D printers? One area where 3D printing technology is useful is in printing custom size valves (like zero differential solenoid) that would otherwise be difficult to manufacture. This method is already being used by General Electric for producing valves for jets, for example. Another interesting application for 3D printers is using them to print out the food people eat. Since a 3D printer has already been used to create a pizza, this technology really is starting to demonstrate huge potential in the food production industry. It makes people wonder if their next microwave will be a 3D printer instead, conjuring up meals from raw food-grade materials. Medical interests have also peaked, as covered in this report, since 3D printers are now being used to explore the prospect of printing replacement body parts. This advancement would eliminate the need for people to spend such long durations on waiting lists for transplants. This means 3D printers could soon be saving lives in droves and helping to solve complex medical problems along the way. It also means that people in need of prosthetic parts could potentially create them from the comfort of their own home. That is to say, assuming that they can get their hands on the latest specs for the specific prosthetics they desire to print.
With 3D printing becoming more popular in modern industrial applications, the need for technicians pioneering new applications for this technology are in demand. In addition, such fields of study give rise to amazing potential for opening up new industrial uses that have not yet been realized. With the ability to print items from raw materials in hand, this makes 3D printing a wave of the future industrial revolution that should attract students and businesses alike to the possibilities that lie ahead.