What is 3D Printing Technology?
3D printing is a technology that brings to physical life a three-dimensional digital model, which is a CAD representation, by means of a specialized printer that lays down the material layer by layer from the bottom up. In other words, objects are manipulated in their digital format and manufactured into new shapes by addition of material. That is why the process is also known as additive manufacturing.
3D printing has now covered all forms of media – television, publications, and online resources. They say that it revolutionized design, impacted geopolitics, economy, environment, and even the security of our everyday lives. They say it will threaten or even end traditional manufacturing as we know it.
The most differentiating principle, and also the most basic one, behind 3D printing is that it is an additive manufacturing process. It is key, as 3D printing is a radically different method of manufacturing based on advanced technology that builds up parts, additively, in layers at the minutest level – fundamentally different from any other existing traditional techniques.
Traditional manufacturing has limitations, one of which is that it relies on human labor. However, the field has changed, and automation is now involved in machining, casting, forming and molding – processes that require machines, computers and robotics. Even then, these technologies demand subtracting material from a larger origin to produce the product itself and they consume long man-hours, huge costs, different materials, among other constraints.
3D printing has proved itself the innovative trailblazer in manufacturing that reduces lead times and excessive costs. It is capable of intricate geometry and complex designs without the added costs. It affords the added and almost limitless freedom of design, and opportunities of redesigning without too much loss of time. Energy-efficient and environment-friendly, 3D printing utilizes 90% of standard materials used, meaning there is minimal wastage. End products are lighter, stronger, and more durable.
The players in this field used to be dominated by huge, multinational companies. Now small and medium-sized endeavors are booming as the technology becomes more accessible and affordable. Even individuals owning a 3D printer can easily join in the fray. As the playing field is now wider and diverse, the adoption rate continues apace on all fronts, more and more systems, materials, applications, services and ancillaries are emerging.
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