Everything You Want to Know About 3D Printers
3D printers are the next big thing. These devices are touted to bring the industrial age where manufacturing will shift from giant warehouses to homes. The technology has been used to make small tools to houses. 3D printing can truly pave the way to the next generation economy. For those of you still oblivious to this fantastic feat of engineering, we bring you all that you need to know about the technology that might actually change your life.
The 3D printing or additive manufacturing (AM) is a technique by which you can create or recreate a three-dimensional object. The 3D printers are also considered to be industrial robots for their manufacturing aptitude. The technology utilises computer-aided formation of objects by laying successive layers of materials. The materials can vary from plastic to metals like silver, steel, and titanium.
What can you do with it?
With AM, you can even create complex objects with intricate moving bits. Designers and engineers have created working electric car models in a duration of just 44 hours. Of course, they used an industrial-sized printer, but the fact remains that this technology could bring manufacturing closer to home and decrease the massive amount of investment that goes into bringing the product from factory to shop. The 3D printing is exceptionally economical as it can create complex parts for machines, cars and even airplanes at a fraction of the cost of conventional processes. The printers can be scaled down and up easily depending on the requirement.
The printers are also capable of creating electronic circuitry so it might only be a matter of time before you can get OTA updates for a new phone altogether. This, coupled with technological experiences gained by developments like Project Ara, would help in creating the next generation eco-friendly devices that are also economical.
The 3D printers are also being used in the health industry. Using biological data, researchers have printed replacement organs for humans. The technology is also being used in food design and has let artists create some cool looking treats.
These printers will come really handy to space travelers. Instead of carrying a massive inventory of spares and tools, they can simply carry a printer on board that will create the spares they need. This will clear more space for human utilisation and make the spacefarers self-sufficient in the long run.
How does it do it?
The first step in the process of 3D printing is acquiring the 3D model of the object that you want to print. This can be done manually by using modelling softwares. There has been an influx of a lot of softwares intended to print 3D objects. You can easily get free softwares where you can create rudimentary objects or if you have the stomach for it, you can go for professional softwares like 3ds Max or Autodesk Maya.
There are also a lot of websites that offer predesigned objects that you can download. Websites like Thingiverse have a lot of options to choose from to try out your hand at creating stuff off computer designs right in your homes.
And if that’s still out of your technological proficiency, then the printers itself lets you scan the images that you are trying to recreate. It’s easier than easy with the 3D printing.
Where can I get it?
Presently, the devices cost truly a bomb, but for what they can do, they are a bang for the bucks. Printers like the Makerbot come at a premium price of Rs. 3,50,000, which may actually be cheap for an enterprise segment. You can also get lower-priced models for home usage for just above a lakh rupees, and they will give you great ease in making prototypes. Even big brands have seen the potential of the technology and have started working on their own models, one of the prominent names is HP’s Multi Jet Fusion technology.
The 3D printing revolution is here, and it needs its revolutionaries. Manufacturing science is a great area of study that really require people. If you are an engineering student looking for a field of study, then manufacturing should be it. And if you are a kind of person who likes to create the future, keep your eyes on the 3D printers, they are about to change the world.