3D Printing: Hottest Topic in Manufacturing

Fanny Littmarck | July 27, 2012

Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing as it is more widely known as, is on everybody’s mind right now. Manufacturing folks, engineers, and even the general public have taken an interest in 3D printing. In other words, this is not just a fascinating phenomenon to those in the industry — additive manufacturing has been generally accepted as the next “cool” thing in manufacturing.

3D’s got the World Buzzing about Manufacturing

On July 24th, CNN published an article on “3D printing: the shape of things to come”. There, they state that 3D printers are becoming mainstream. Yes, mainstream. Much like 3D has basically become a standard feature in new televisions; 3D printers are no longer just used for rapid prototyping. They’re spitting out the finished product, not just a mock-up of it. Some call this an industrial revolution. The Economist had a feature on this in its April Special Report on “Manufacturing and Innovation”, where they point out that 3D printers “change the rules of manufacturing”. But it’s not only featured in “old school” media; we see tweets and Facebook posts about 3D printing on a daily basis (as I’m sure you do as well). The latest tweet to intrigue us came from @DW_RapidMfg and pointed to this video on Capillary Effects in 3D Printed Structures.

How does 3D Printing work?

You generate a model on your computer then send it to the printer, which prints out the 3D version of that model by layering the specified material. There are virtually no limitations to what kind of material you can print with either; printing has been performed with everything from food items to electric wires, batteries, and more. It is currently possible to print objects either very small or very large in size. Check out “From Model to Product in One Step” for more info on the computer model side of the phenomenon.

If you really want to learn more about additive manufacturing, 3DSystems is apparently holding free seminars on “Smarter 3D Printing and How to Have it All” all over the United States.

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