3d printing for dummies. What is 3D Printing?

We are living in a smart world where everything around us is smarter than we think. Gone are the days when printing meant writing text and drawing images on a 2D plane. Printing in today’s world is not just limited to text and Images thanks to Chuck Hull, who envisioned that making a 3D object of any given shape and size is possible. The idea is to lay down successive layers of material under the control of the 3D printer which uses the printable models developed by CAD tools.

The advent of 3D printing was unpredictable till the past couple of decades but extensive studies and research lead to the development of printers (smart robots) that print all kind of objects .Unlike the old 2D printers that had the input material as papers only, the input material for the Smart 3D printers can be papers, liquid, powder or anything else depending on what is to be printed. The expiry of key patents has further fueled this revolution.

A glance on the evolution of 3D printers that revolutionized the way printing is perceived, tells us how much effort has been made on converting the massive and expensive devices that were very limited in terms of number and functionality into the extremely smart, portable and efficient devices that have started dominating the market in few fields and show a great scope in other fields as well.

3D printing originated with the purpose to help rapid prototyping which would reduce the time taken to develop new spare parts and devices. Only the highly established manufacturers could afford to use it, but they were still not completely satisfied as the process was extremely slow. With advancements in technology, the processes matured over and over with time which enriched the performance of 3D printing, making it applicable in several different fields.

The technology then made its space in rapid prototyping followed by mass customization. Today, from 3D printed houses to cars and food items, 3D printing is ready to go. Printing 3D food items have already started in few labs of California. Imagine if you do not have to prepare or buy your meal and instead give a command to a computer to get it printed for you. That’s the magic that 3D printing is about to bring to the table. Clothing, shoe and eyewear manufactures and designers have already started experimenting with 3D printing. Nike has started the commercial production for football shoes for American Football players using the 3D printing technology.3D printing finds its application in tissue engineering under the name of 3D Bio-Printing which is remarkable.

The father of 3D Printing, Chuck Hull was honored with the European Inventor Award 2014 for his tremendous achievement in this field. According to him, 3D printed goods are no more an imaginary stuff but indeed a reality that is ready to come and that his company is now focusing on production-quality, performance and throughput.. He claims that his invention can create a whole set of gadgets and is ready to take the retail market by storm.

The 3D printing domain is an ocean full of inventions that are yet to be discovered. The deeper you go, the more the revolution continues.

Image Credit: Matthew Hutchinson (flickrhandle: hiddenloop)

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