3D Printing

3D printing works by fusing materials layer by layer under the guidance of a computer in order to create full and new forms with little waste. From a tiny seed to a sophisticated structure, this process grows up thin layer by layer over time, much like the rings of a tree. It's a simple, low-cost, and long-lasting approach for creating new 3D forms.

Being human entails the creation of tools. For the first time in tens of thousands of years, we're at the start of a new manufacturing method known as additive manufacturing or 3D printing, which allows for decentralized production. 
Decentralization, like open-source software or blockchain, eliminates bottlenecks, lowers entry barriers, and expands the number of alternatives and the resilience of value chains. The tradeoff is a reduction in scale economies (a short-term concern) and quality unpredictability.

Cheap, conventional electromechanical parts like servos and sensors, as well as compact, powerful computer components like Arduino, have made this practical. The same technology that fueled the emergence of the Internet of Things also paved the way for mass-market 3D printing. The AM revolution has ridden on the backs of smartphones, IoT, and the internet in a very tangible sense. Aside from anthropological curiosity, anything that has the potential to disrupt the $12 trillion manufacturing industry is worth paying attention to.

Let’s dig into what makes the landscape of 3D Printing and what we can do with it.
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The implications of additive manufacturing are numerous. It might be as simple as assisting a blind woman in seeing her kid for the first time, or as game-changing as assisting in the development of prolonged space travel and assisting children in conflict zones in leading better lives. It also implies that anybody, with the same ease as duplicating a digital file, may manufacture undetectable weapons or unlawfully pirate tangible items. It's a thrilling moment to be alive—a smidgeon of the Wild West. In some respects, we're returning to an earlier artisanal era, when people made their own stuff. What's new and exciting is that owing to the internet, this capacity can be scaled for non-specialists and enhanced by everyone. These talents will only grow in the aggregate when more specializations emerge, such as Penn State's master's in additive manufacturing. It's easy to see a day when every household will have at least one simple-to-use fabricator for printing anything from knickknacks to replacement components to apparel and even food. Future supply chains will be drastically different, providing raw materials rather than finished items.

It costs a lot of money to send instruments into space, and it will continue to cost a lot of money for a long time. Furthermore, getting tools to where they need to be might take months or even years. The capacity to develop new tools on-demand at such a low cost and in such a short amount of time is a game-changer for the space sector. A low-gravity additive manufacturing facility (AMF) was established on the International Space Station (ISS) in 2016 by a business named Made in Space in collaboration with the International Space Station (ISS). The AMF has printed hundreds of small tools to replace damaged wrenches and screwdrivers, as well as an emergency splint to cure an astronaut's fractured finger in 2017, which was the first medical supplies created in space. This skill cannot be optional if humanity ever wants to explore other worlds such as Mars. However, space printing isn't the only extreme environment where 3D printing has made an effect.

Mick Ebeling, a film producer, and inventor boarded an aircraft in 2013, carefully stowing crates of components on a journey. Against US advice, he took a circuitous route across war-torn South Sudan, jumping aircraft and vehicles for hours to reach the Nuba Mountains, where he set up a business. The atrocities of the war's high civil collateral, as well as accounts of children who had lost limbs, affected Mick. He was particularly concerned about one youngster, Daniel, a double amputee. He built and established a 3D printing laboratory to produce prosthetic limbs for amputees with the help of his company, Not Impossible Labs. Because designing and shipping prosthetic limbs to conflict zones is difficult and expensive, Mick trained locals how to run the machines and utilize open-source prosthetic models to assist injured people with artificial mobility. Daniel now works in a laboratory, using his prosthetic limbs to assist in designing and fitting limbs for more than 50,000 amputees in the area. 3D printing is altering how we manufacture products, democratizing the technology, and allowing anybody to shaping accessible materials in a cheap, efficient, and standard way, without the need for scale, from inner space to outer space, from war to peace.

It's difficult to emphasize how quickly 3D printing has progressed. Around the 1940s, the first numerical control machines were created, and in the 1960s, electronic logic units were added to produce computer numerical controls (CNC). In subtractive manufacturing, such as cutting, drilling, and milling, these devices enabled for mass manufacture of increasingly accurate parts. The earliest demonstrations of what we now term 3D printing appeared in the late 1980s, employing computer controls akin to CNC. In reality, several of today's files, such as gcode, are comparable in both CNC and AM. These early experiments were aimed towards quick prototyping, with a stereolithography device (SLA) and, later in 1989, fused deposition modeling (FDM) being developed. Several advancements were made throughout the 1990s, although they were mostly aimed at big industrial applications, and these devices cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. Then, in the first decade of the twenty-first century, something happened.

The emergence of online communities, as well as the open-source attitude promoted by the software community, began to spread to other fields. Makers, a collective of artists and enthusiasts, began freely sharing and upgrading a fused deposition modeling machine for home use. It was just a hot glue gun with three tracks that could move the nozzle to any place in a compact volume. The nozzle was then directed to deposit a tiny droplet of plastic onto a surface by a small computer. Once a layer was laid down, it was shifted forward a fraction of a millimeter, and the next layer was printed, and so on until the full form was visible.

Despite the fact that these early designs were freely accessible, they needed a diverse set of skills, including working knowledge of electronics, basic engineering, a rudimentary understanding of fluid physics, and programming. That, as well as a lot of trial and error. Two simultaneous occurrences in 2009 aided in the transformation of this small hobby into the germs of a viable enterprise. The first is crowdsourcing, namely Kickstarter. Several 3D printer designs became available for purchase on Kickstarter the same year, both as DTY kits and fully assembled printers. Second, and maybe more importantly, the original 1989 FDM patent expired this year. A cottage business appeared out of nothing, selling printers, materials, and pre-designed 3D models.

Standardization of parts fostered and drove the industrial revolution. Every bolt and nut—and, by extension, every wrench—had to be standard before Ford could build a million Model T automobiles on a single assembly line. Most things were handcrafted separately by craftsmen before the assembly line, according to only to the most basic rules of practice. It has become much easier to exchange 3D models thanks to the internet. There were no particular industry standards; standardization evolved as a result of what worked best for the majority of individuals. In the absence of a centralized authority, file types, printer sizes, and materials are increasingly aligning.

3D Printing Revolution

Rapid prototyping was one of the first applications of 3D printing. The machines were costly, but for some component manufacturers, the chance to experiment or show clients comprehensive designs was worth the investment. However, these were always the first steps toward the ultimate aim of a mass-production run. Today, you can create personalized 3D components without needing to build multiples, which appeals to the Maker movement.

Suppliers may offer 3D computer-aided design (CAD) models to professionals in any number through marketplaces like CGTrader. Thingiverse is a website that allows users to trade and edit 3D models for free. The 3D model ecosystem is an essential part of the 3D printing revolution because it allows anyone to get started fast and cheaply without any prior knowledge of 3D CAD. Copyrights must, of course, be respected, as the now-defunct PrintABrick website discovered while attempting to sell 3D LEGO brick prints.

While the cheapest 3D printers will cost around $200 in 2020, high-quality prints in small quantities will still be accessible. Several boutique 3D printing businesses have sprung up throughout the years as a result of the widespread availability of 3D digital models. Shapeways is a company that provides additive manufacturing as a service. Shapeways will create a professional-quality product from a variety of materials, including plastics, metals, and carbon, based on the 3D model provided by the user. FigurePrints, a thriving firm that specializes in bespoke characters for the video game World of Warcraft, proves that no niche is too tiny for 3D printing. Custom prints of their own avatars, wearable equipment earned in a game, and mounts on a stand with their character's name cost a premium.
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The need for medical equipment soared when Italy's borders were shut down in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak. A hospital in Northern Italy was unable to get a valve needed to fix malfunctioning resuscitation equipment due to supply chain disruptions. After a few phone calls, Cristian Fracassi, the creator of AM, brought a 3D printer to the hospital and cloned and manufactured the missing component in a matter of hours.

More than only plastic items can be printed by medical 3D printers. Spritam, a 3D printed, quickly dissolving epilepsy tablet, was authorized by the FDA in 2015. Aprecia Pharmaceuticals created it as a demonstration of how 3D printing may be used in the field of customized medicine. Later studies focused on bespoke forms that make tablets simpler to swallow for children or people with poor swallowing abilities.

More intriguing achievements in 3D printing of skin, bones, and organs have surfaced. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Yale School of Medicine collaborated to develop a printed skin consisting of live cells with the proper layers and subsequently with vasculature that can be implanted into people with little organ rejection. NYU School of Medicine created a ceramic framework for the bone to adhere to, allowing the patient's natural bone structure to develop properly. Previously inconceivable bone transplants, including new skull sections and replacement vertebrae, have succeeded as prints. These bones may also grow, which is a key feature for bone printing in children.

Other 3D printed components are also real. Scientists from Newcastle University have successfully printed a human cornea, which ten million people around the world require to restore their sight. Researchers at Princeton 3D printed a prosthetic ear that fused tissue and electronics, allowing a human with this transplant to possibly hear ultrasonic frequencies previously reserved solely for canines, pushing the frontiers even farther in a 3D printing narrative that borders on science fiction.

Bioprinting was originally attempted in 2003, but since then, it has grown in scope and application—liver and kidneys, as well as other organs, have been 3D printed using a number of processes with varying degrees of research. This is a vital and crucial field of study, and companies like Organovo are actively pursuing it. Organ printing cannot come soon enough, in terms of practicality. Autonomous cars are expected to save millions of lives, which is a positive thing, but it has the unintended consequence of reducing the number of organs available for donation. 3D organ printing is humanity's insurance policy against this possibility.
Architecture And Construction

Consider a world where you can use a computer to create your own home. You decide on the size, the number of rooms, and the form (straight edges are optional). Imagine that once you've created it (and virtually gone through it in VR), it could be built in 48 hours for as little as $6,000! Welcome to the world of 3D-printed structures. By the way, this isn't a science-fiction scenario. SQ4D, a New York-based business, produced a 1,900-square-foot home using a technique called Autonomous Robotic Construction System (ARCS) in early 2020. It builds up the walls one layer at a time with a quick-dry concrete mix, complete with areas for doors, windows, and insulation, much like traditional 3D printing.

The building material, a fire-resistant concrete composite that is flexible enough to survive harsh weather, is partly responsible for the time and cost savings (even seismic activity). It also necessitates significantly less labor—it takes fewer workers to build a home with this technology. Of course, specialists are still needed to install siding, wiring, and plumbing...at least for the time being. Never to be outdone, a bigger, two-story office facility with a floor area of 6,900 square feet was printed in Dubai, needing just three people to construct. This is a curving, structural masterpiece that defies square wall limitations with ease. Dubai intends to have 25% of all buildings 3D printed by 2030, putting it firmly in the lead in this field.

Few things are as luxurious as having a good house to call your own, and technology's history has been about making luxuries more accessible to the public. As a result, additive constructed homes are assisting in the battle against poverty. Developers in Tabasco, Mexico, are printing a hamlet of fifty houses for low-income households. It's a partnership between the nonprofits New Story and ECHALE, with the support of the 3D printing firm ICON. The Vulcan II printer can build two houses in only twenty-four hours, which is quicker and more durable than hand-built alternatives and costs a fraction of the price.

Home products ranging from furniture to sconces are also being printed, in addition to the building itself. With its vast range of applications, speed, cost-effectiveness, and waste reduction, 3D printing has a bright future in the construction industry.

NASA began research on 3D food printing in 2006 with the goal of feeding astronauts a range of cuisines made from a similar set of ingredients with minimal waste.

3D-printed food has evolved into a cottage business over time. Food printers come in a variety of styles. There are simple printers that can create complicated forms out of sugar and chocolate (Mmuse), such as a plate-sized Palace of Versailles dessert printed in sugar. Pizza and burrito-focused printers, as well as the Norwegian PancakeBot 2.0, are available for the more specialist. For the more complicated, there's Giuseppe Scionti's Novamet, a prototype printer that prints realistically textured steaks using plant ingredients.

3D printers can help minimize waste as the world's population expands. Food waste was utilized by artist Elzelinde van Doleweerd to make new printed foods. These were meals that were too ugly or had a bad texture to sell, but they could be recycled and printed into beautiful delicacies that people would pay good money to consume. Characters in the television show Upload debate a Jamie Oliver printed steak recipe in a near-future world where flying drones are ubiquitous and food printers are ordinary kitchen gadgets. It's a realistic portrayal of deep tech's banality in the future when the revolutionary becomes as ordinary as a refrigerator in present times. Gourmet cuisine prepared at home that is high in nutrition, minimal in waste, and manufactured using recycled materials. Nothing will ever be the same when it comes to leftovers

Industrial And Supply Chain

In large-scale distributed computing, there's a rule that it's easier to send the algorithm to the data than it is to transport the data to the algorithm. It's more economical to send a short equation to each of the servers and sum up the few results when dealing with exabytes of data spread across servers all over the world than it is to force petabytes of data through a single server and execute an equation.

The advantages of 3D printing can work in a similar way. Rather than taking a set of custom orders, making them in small batches at a specialty maker, and then dealing with the logistics of shipping those complete products to the end-user, it may be easier to ship a box and raw materials to specific locations for people on the ground to manufacture what they need. The breakthrough reasoning that led Mick Ebeling to print 3D limbs in Sudan, or why the ISS employs AM in space, was just in time (JIT) production, the decrease of shipping costs, and the speed of onshore manufacture.

Consumers will likely compel corporations to embrace 3D printing as their primary form of manufacturing in an age when people are starting to expect smaller environmental footprints, better personalization, and faster turnaround. Let us consider the future for a moment. Imagine a global network of micro-factory 3D printers, like Shapeways, that can produce anything out of any material. This opens the door to a whole JIT supply chain, in which customers pick what they want to make and it is created on-demand rather than far away or in a warehouse. The broker, the designer, the micro-factory, and the logistics business (why not a self-driving fleet?) are all compensated for their services; each little participant makes life without the help of a central authority. This is the ultimate stage of the Industrial Revolution: complete democratization of ideas to the point where they can be sold on a large scale to everyone.

But industrial 3D printing is being driven by more than just reduced production and supply chains. Rapid prototyping is the first and most well-known application of 3D printing. SpaceX's fundamental advantage is its capacity to swiftly construct and test prototypes. The SpaceX fast prototyping facility was demonstrated by Elon Musk, a millionaire, innovator, and real-life Iron Man. Hand gestures and virtual reality are used to create and modify 3D items, which are then put through simulation testing before being 3D printed on demand. Parts for rockets appear instantly. It's not only Silicon Valley startups that are getting in on the fun. By creating a fifteen-dollar component that could check for fuel, the Air Force saved millions of dollars.

To summarize, fashion, medical, buildings, food, and industrial are just a handful of the application areas where 3D printing is gaining traction. In the opening, we mentioned a few examples, such as how 3D printing is affecting lives and even cultures. Let's take a closer look at how this apparently basic technology works.


3D printers are essentially identical, despite their capacity to handle a vast range of materials and shapes—and hence use cases. They print one layer at a time in 2D after breaking down a 3D digital model into layers (think a standard inkjet printer). Once a layer has been created, it is moved up (or down, depending on the printer type) and the following layer is 2D printed. This technique is repeated until you have a three-dimensional item.

The devil is in the details, even if they are the basic stages. 3D printing is still an industrial process, but one that has been substantially mechanized and scaled down to the level of the average customer. Using a 3D printer necessitates a level of caution that the general public may not be ready for just now. The process of making printable 3D digital models is complicated, but it is becoming easier all the time. With no CAD knowledge, we are able to create very complicated forms with a simple iPad and Apple Pencil and an app called Shapr3d. CAD design has grown so commonplace in recent years that some websites now provide it for free, with minimal training and no specific equipment required.

There is no ideal checklist, and 3D printing is still in its infancy, so it's more art and rules of thumb than hard and fast laws. However, there are a few things to bear in mind while deciding on the best additive manufacturing strategy. The necessary properties of the produced thing you want should be your first priority. Use cases should drive mechanical, size, and aesthetic requirements. Second, determining which procedure to utilize is influenced by material selection. Third, consider the shape's geometry. This covers things like the amount of detail, the thickness of the walls, the accuracy, and so on. Finally, in addition to supplies, the cost is influenced by factors such as printer cost, print speed, and cleanup time.

Printing in 3D is, at its core, computer-controlled deposition meaning it's a process of depositing materials one layer at a time. There are collections of techniques that fall under this rather broad process that we'll look into now, starting with categorizing the types of printers, followed by a peek at 3D digital modeling.

Material extrusion

Extrusion of Materials is the act of selectively squeezing a material through a nozzle or aperture, and it's what most people imagine when they think of 3D printing. Consider a hot glue gun with a computer controlling each droplet of glue and a pair of rails moving it around. Some of the early consumer 3D printers, such as the MakerBot, used this fundamental structure, which is also known as Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM). This is the type of printer that hobbyists use: the device melts a plastic-like filament or wire by forcing it through a heated nozzle. Although some of these printers can also push out liquid materials, this fundamental structure is ideal for materials like thermoplastics and soft metal filaments.

The adaptability of this printer type, as well as the comparatively inexpensive cost of both building and managing the printer and the supplies, is appealing. In 2020, a home 3D printer, an Ender 3, will cost under $200 and is open-source. In a kind of rudimentary cloning capacity, it can even print many of its own parts.

Material extrusion printers can be scaled up to accommodate concrete mixtures for home construction, or adapted to support edible ingredients for food printing. It's no surprise that this type of printer has piqued the public's interest and, perhaps more than any other, has sparked the AM revolution.

Vat Photopolymerization

Despite its intimidating name, vat photopolymerization is a straightforward procedure. You may be familiar with photopolymers if you've ever had a chipped tooth or a cavity. The substance is a paste that is molded into the shape of your teeth and solidifies when exposed to UV light. It is then sculpted with a dental bur and-voila!-instant tooth repair. Consider how useful this curing process would be in the construction of a 3D printer.

Light pulses were targeted towards a thin vat of liquid photopoly. Some of the liquid layers solidify into a complicated 2D form using mer resin. Light-activated polymerization is the name for this method. The hardened structure is vertically pushed a few nanometers by a mechanical arm, and the light repeats the process for the next layer. You create a 3D structure out of solid resin over time.

Unlike material extrusion, vat photopolymerization does not use a nozzle to deposit a thin layer of material; instead, the printing process uses a mirror galvanometer, or galvo for short, to regulate light. In addition, unlike material extrusion, which prints from the bottom up, vat photopolymerization prints the top layer first and then works its way down.
Vat photopolymerization, the oldest kind of additive manufacturing, was invented in the 1970s by Dr. Hideo Kodama as stereolithography (SLA), but he was unable to submit a patent owing to financial constraints. Chuck Hull was given a patent for SLA in 1986 and began a 3D printing firm shortly after. This is widely regarded as the beginning of contemporary 3D printing. The focus was on quick prototyping at the time, but it has subsequently moved beyond these early use cases. Vat photopolymerization is now widely used in areas where a smooth surface and precise features are required, such as medical applications. For years, the dental company Invisalign has used SLA technology to mass create individual aligners.

Powder Bed Fusion

The preceding two 3D printing categories mostly focus on different types of polymers. However, metal components are occasionally required, and powder bed fusion is a viable option. The 3D sculpture is built one layer at a time from a vat of material, similar to stereolithography. Instead of a shape being cured and lifted up from a liquid resin, an energy source fuses a powder to the desired shape one layer at a time before adding another. There are a few advantages to this method. The powder is first melted using high-energy sources such as lasers. Powdered metal materials, in addition to powdered plastics, can be included in the range of materials. Second, powder bed fusion techniques can produce stronger components because of the materials used and their high melting temperatures, however at a higher cost than other methods. Third, because the 3D design is created inside a bed of powder, the requirement for support structures is almost eliminated, resulting in less waste. The powder bed that isn't in use may often be reused.

The classic technique for powder bed fusion is selective laser sintering (SLS), which entails employing a guided laser as the energy mechanism to fuse the powder. The laser is guided via galvos, the same as stereolithography. Other types of powder bed fusion include Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS), Selective Laser Melting (SLM), and Electron Beam Melting (EBM).

Directed Energy Deposition

Directed energy deposition is what would happen if material extrusion and powder bed fusion had a child. By melting granules or wire as they are deposited, this technique concentrates thermal energy to fuse materials. From laser (Laser Engineered Net Shaping, or LENS) to electron beam (Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing, or EBAM) to plasma arc, the energy source determines the type of machine (Plasma Arc Directed Energy Deposition, or PA-DED).

The potential of this method to fix existing parts rather than create new components is intriguing. On a shop floor, a directed energy deposition machine can fix everything from handheld equipment to turbine blades. DED may be thought of as a sort of auto welding machine in its most basic form.

Binder Jetting

MIT invented binder jetting as we know it now in 1993. The business ExOne then developed the technique to work for printing metals in 1996. It's a hybrid of powder bed fusion and a standard inkjet printer you'd get at home. Binder jetting allows for the creation of complicated 3D geometry without the need for supports. Rather than employing a high-energy source to fuse each layer, liquid binding agents are used to combine powdered components. Consider minuscule drops of glue dripping over a layer of baby powder to create a flat form, then layering on top of that. That's the gist of it. It differs from conventional 3D printing technologies in that it uses chemical processes rather than heat or light. This helps to prevent some of the distortions and stress issues that might come from operations that need heat, such as warping.

Binder jetting may be used to make huge structures out of powdered materials like sand or ceramics, such as a 3D printed pedestrian bridge in Madrid. While it may be used to fabricate some metal items directly, it can also be used to print 3D sand castings, which are used to shape molten materials such as iron or steel. This is a contemporary take on a centuries-old foundry method.

Material Jetting

Material jetting is comparable to inkjet printing and material extrusion. Material jetting, like material extrusion, drops material droplets onto a build plate, where they cure when exposed to UV light, necessitating photopolymer resin-similar stereolithography. The capacity to accommodate various materials created in the same item distinguishes material jetting from material extrusion or stereolithography. Material jetting, unlike many other methods, enables full-color printing. If you've ever seen a home 3D printer, you'll notice that they usually only print in one color.

Drop on Demand (DOD) is a specialized material jetting technique. However, rather than being general-purpose, it has certain heads that are engaged in the deposition of dissolvable support material and others that manufacture the model. Lost-wax castings are frequently made with DOD printers.

Sheet Lamination

"You can have a job done fast, cheap, or excellent, but you can't have all three," as the old adage goes. Sheet lamination is a clear illustration of fast and inexpensive in the field of 3D printing. Paper and aluminum foil are the materials of choice in this process, and the machine uses lasers to cut shapes and glue them together one sheet at a time. The result of sheet lamination is fascinating in that, depending on the geometry, sufficient sheets of paper can begin to take on some of the strength and properties of wood. It's also simple to add color to the output using ordinary inkjet technology, thanks to the heat and harsh chemical-free procedure.

Laminated item manufacture is another term for sheet lamination (LOM). Sheet lamination is one of the greatest options for architectural models and product development. Some individuals have tried building furniture using this approach as well.

Because 3D printing is such a large area, this may have seemed like a thorough review. It's critical to recognize that the market encompasses far more than your nephew's home 3D printer. It's the next big thing in manufacturing. Material extrusion, vat photopolymerization, powder bed fusion, binder jetting, material jetting, directed energy deposition, and sheet lamination is the ISO/ASTM AM categories, to summarize. There is no quiz, but if you want to make a move in the AM space, you need to be conversant with the seven categories at a high level.

3d Digital Modeling

Before printing anything in 3D, from a plastic toy to a mansion, you'll need a 3D model of the object. Find a digital model that you like online, create it yourself, or hire someone to do it for you. Getting a basic idea is a good start, but there are dragons on these antique maps. Keep in mind what the end product will be utilized for while developing the 3D digital model. That will determine the type of work required, with post-processing such as grinding and filing taken into account. These particulars, in turn, will determine wall thickness and infill.

CAD software, such as SolidWorks or Rhino, is a complicated tool for creating unique 3D manufacturable models. Unless you have a specific need for unique things, such as rocket engine parts, the most frequent option is to go to a model marketplace and buy and sell 3D models. There are also various open-source models available for free online, with Thingiverse being the most popular.

Different file formats are supported by different 3D printers, however, there are two main types: 3D mesh and NURBS (non-uniform rational basis-splines). Mesh files in three dimensions, such as OBJ or STL, are made up of thousands of small polygons that form a shape. This is the kind of file you'd see in video games or animated films. They appear attractive, but beauty is only skin deep. NURBS is a more industrial-oriented file format. NURBS are mathematical functions that depict an actual surface, as opposed to polygons, which are detailed but ultimately approximations of a surface. They're also more challenging to work with. Some printers accept a variety of file formats and convert them internally, but for the best results, practitioners prefer to control file details before printing, such as defining supports and slicing.

This was simply a quick rundown of the physical and digital technology involved in 3D printing-based additive manufacturing. It's a difficult issue to analyze, and like extended reality, it's difficult to fathom without firsthand experience. Hopefully, it has piqued your interest enough for you to give it a shot. Over the next decade and beyond, the benefits of deep technology will only increase.


With all of additive manufacturing's material versatility, quality, speed, and affordability, it's easy to imagine it's the panacea of all future production approaches. From industrial manufacture to construction, supply chain to foodservice, the method has distinct ideals and decades of innovating. These advantages, however, come at a cost. Some are only transitory (such as poor printing rates), while others are most likely permanent (like the black market of 3D designs).

In every manufacturing process, time and materials are the two most important cost indicators, and those indications are exacerbated when attempting to mass-produce a product. They're also two of 3D printing's major flaws as it exists right now. Aside from a sluggish fabrication speed and restricted and expensive material alternatives, 3D printing has a general lack of accuracy and geometric options, and there are legal murky areas when it comes to producing a readily transferrable digital model on demand.

Print Speed

Three-dimensional printing is a time-consuming procedure. Even the simplest nut and bolt assembly can take hours to construct after post-processing, depending on the materials, shape, method, and other variables.

The audience gasped audibly when Joseph DeSimone's TED lecture, "What If 3D Printing Was 100x Faster?" flooded the theatre with excitement. Joseph made a plastic ball in less than 10 minutes as he was speaking. CLIP, a sort of vat polymerization that is quicker than other methods, was the procedure he presented. But there's still room for improvement. The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne developed a novel technology for printing tiny, soft things in less than thirty seconds in 2020.

Limited Materials, Multi-Materials

If you require plastics or metals, 3D printing is a viable alternative, and if you need paper or ceramic, it's also a viable one. Iron, on the other hand, needs the traditional extra procedures of casting and milling. Glass is still in its early stages of development, and it lacks the diversity that the business requires.

Aside from material constraints, there are also limitations on pieces manufactured of certain materials. An automobile, for example, is difficult to 3D print due to steel frame needs, as well as rubber, aluminum, carbon, and other materials. At the end of the day, the ideal choice is to 3D print the components and then robotically assemble them. Of course, due to the aforementioned cost and speed limitations, this would be an extremely costly automobile.

Precision And Geometry

In general, three-dimensional printers aren't extremely exact for many industrial applications. Forget about electronics nanoscales; many 3D printers struggle to go far below the millimeter scale, which is a thousand times less accurate than the submicron sizes required for some aerospace and medical components. Things are, however, getting better. Exaddon printed a millimeter-scale replica of Michel Angelo's David as a prototype. So far, only a single material—ionized liquid copper—has proven successful, but it's a significant, modest step in the right direction for printing precision. Certain materials and procedures are also unsuitable for 3D printing. For example, due to the heat required for FDM. There is a minimum wall thickness that can be used before the geometry distorts, restricting the types of geometries that can be printed with present printing processes. However, there are several examples of teams attempting to overcome these obstacles.

3D printing is being used by researchers at ETH Zürich to create complicated glass items. The Singapore University of Technology and Design's Digital Manufacturing and Design Centre is harnessing data to enable designers to create sophisticated geometric and material constructions that display previously unattainable behaviors. Increased accuracy and new geometric breakthroughs might very well be the first truly killer use of 3D printing at scale, and this is an active field of research.

Legal Gray Areas

On May 6, 2013, a company calling itself Defense Distributed revealed open-source plans for a functional, 3D printed pistol called the Liberator, which made history. The US Department of State attempted to have the digital blueprints removed, igniting a global scramble to figure out how to continue in this new reality. The United States is still unclear about allowing people to print weapons at home and share the blueprints in 2020, while nations like Australia and the United Kingdom have made it plain that it is banned.

Another major issue is the ease with which 3D printing might compromise intellectual property (IP). While individual CAD files are frequently easily identifiable as IP, what about 3D scans and personal manufacture of current products? Is it theft to print a damaged plastic valve for a hospital respirator? While digitally duplicating a book or music is commonly acknowledged to constitute piracy, is it theft to print a broken plastic valve for a hospital respirator? Between copyright infringement and fair use, there exist grey areas. And where there are shades of grey, there are black markets. Data is considerably easier to transport than real products in this illicit market. Why risk getting caught selling fake goods when you can offer the blueprints and let customers create their own? What is the difference between copyrights and patent rights? Many different countries will answer these and other problems throughout time. The more internationally uniform the regulations are, the faster they will be solved.

Regardless of the drawbacks, speeds will improve, materials will grow, and quantities will increase. The work put forward is justified due to the scale customization and waste minimization.

There's still much to do in the realm of 3D Printing. If you are a researcher in the field of 3D Printing you are at the right place.

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