Additive technologies or Modern 3D printing involve creating an object that exactly represents a 3D model by placing material on a layer-by-layer basis. This innovation became a global trend. The main advantage of the technology is its resource efficiency. The losses of useful material are close to zero.
3D printers are not in every household yet but they are used in every major industry. Additive technologies are utilized in automotive manufacturing, the energy industry, the medical sector, food production, architecture, and design, as well as the fashion industry.
In the resource-heavy and labor-intensive industries making a prototype costs a lot of money. Using traditional casting techniques or mechanical processing will require months of work. Thanks to the abilities of Modern 3D printing, the work can be done several times faster without compromising on quality and keeping the properties of the models accurate. By the way, a final prototype will be more than 20 percent stronger than a result produced using traditional methods.
Modern 3D printing is used in medicine for designing dental implants, bones, and even internal organs. Additive technologies allow for the creation of medical tools optimized for certain patients with pathologies and anatomical differences. This provides a huge leap forward for studying and surgery preparation.
In 2011, a 3D printer created a human kidney. The scientists created an exoskeleton to support the atrophied muscles. There are even special biopens for ‘drawing’ living cells on damaged skin tissue.
3D printers are used for generating models of the rooms with fully worked-out interiors, buildings, and even whole residential districts with detailed houses, utility systems, and infrastructure objects.
In the science and education fields, 3D printing is useful for creating visual aids that make the studying process easier and more efficient.
Demand of 3D Printing
Modern 3D printing is in demand in the fashion industry. The devices can produce footwear, clothes, and perfume bottles. The process is still expensive, thus it isn’t featured in mass production. But it’s already possible to see 3D printed products at the runway shows.
The advantages of integration of the Additive Manufacturing technologies into the light industries include the ability to produce prints designed to fit an exact body type or foot shape. This is very important for sportspeople and people with anatomical differences. For example, designer Ross Berber has announced a collection of 3D printed footwear. The line includes five models.
3D printing makes a leap in innovation possible. Before mass production, a prototype must be tested multiple times. It can be done on 3D models that can be created within minutes.
3D technologies are also utilized in the jewelry field, for map creation, souvenir production and customizing finished products (patterning and logotyping).
How Does a 3D Printer Work?
A classical 3D printer works using the FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) technology. The equipment can produce objects of nearly any shape: with curves and relief surfaces. The objects grow larger both horizontally and vertically during printing.
3D printers can work with various materials: plastics, metal, etc. They can produce parts that can withstand significant loads. Printing 3D objects would require a printer to equipped with the following parts:
3D printers work differently but the traditional sequence can be described in one algorithm. First, a 3D image is created. It requires specific software to do so. After that the model is ‘sliced’ in horizontal layers. It also requires special software (the G-code generator). A PC will convert the codes into data that can be recognized by a 3D printer. The next step consists of reproducing a model.
3D Printing Technologies
There’s monochrome and color 3D printing — a number of technologies is more than ten (not counting their modifications). Among the most common:
EBM and SLM are considered to be the most progressive technologies. The first one uses the electron beam instead of the laser, while the second one works with the metals.
3D printing equipment is produced in the US, European and Asian countries. Among the famous ones: Photocentric, 3D systems, Makerbot, Azuma Engineering Machinery Inc. and others.
Advantages of Additive Manufacturing
Advantages of 3D printing include:
- The products are ‘grown’ from nothing and the manufacturing is fully waste-free. For comparison, the loss of material can reach 85% using traditional methods of production.
- The time between design and getting the final result can be reduced by several times without compromising on quality.
- The equipment is compact, the designs can be shared online
- Synthesizing on a layer-by-layer basis results in the models that perfectly match set technical parameters.
- This parameter is 25-30% higher than that of the products that were manufactured using traditional (forging, casting) methods.
- This is an important advantage for industrial fields, aerospace and mechanical engineering. Some parts can be 40-50% lighter without compromising on strength.
Additive technologies also used in printing arts. For example, for creating souvenirs. Agencies that use cross-marketing strategies are actively ordering services that include both traditional practices such as business card and flyer productions, as well as using innovative solutions.
- 3D printing is in demand in almost all fields (manufacturing, medical sector, education, and energy industry).
- Additive technologies are actively used in some industries, while they are in the process of integration in others.
- The technologies contribute to business growth and give competitive advantages: the design can be realized in just minutes and resource efficiency is optimized.
- Manufacturers are constantly perfecting 3D printing equipment and developing new technologies.