Have you ever wanted to bring to life the creation of your mind? Behold, my friends here’s the answer: the new future for printing, additive manufacturing, or as you know 3d printing! 3d printing is the operation of constructing three-dimensional concrete bodies with the aid of just computer software. Although it may not be as easy as it sounds!
Evolution of 3d Printers
The idea was first proposed by Hideo Kodama, a Japanese lawyer, in May 1980. He issued an article regarding Rapid Prototyping technology, the earliest concept of 3d Printing, but it was rejected by the authorities.
In 1984, the incomplete work of Kodama was carried on by a French team based on engineers who were invested in stereolithography. Unfortunately, they, too, had to leave the project unfinished due to a lack of funds and investments.
Two years later, in 1986, an American investor Chuck Hull completed the making of the SLA machine. SLA was the closest device to bring an imaginary object into physical shape. 3d Printers, we now use, are a modified form of it.
Outlining Your Art into Files
First and foremost, you have to design your model. This can be done with the help of 3d modelling software. Nowadays, there are several modelling software, free and paid, to help you out with designing. The most well-known modelling software is
1) Autodesk Maya
Although this is expensive, it provides tonnes of new information to master the art of 3d printing.
2) Autodesk Mud box
Apart from Maya, Autodesk also presents Mud box. It is easy to learn and more based upon sculpting and editing your 3-D models
Its procedural-system differentiates it from other 3-D modelling software.
Turning your imagination into reality
Now, all you have to do is to connect your software with the printer. This can be done via USB, or even online.
3D printer will now start its job. Such printers are layering technology so gradually, layer after layer, it will turn your imagination into a physical form.
Immediate advantages of 3D printers
3D printing is also known as additive manufacturing. Through 3D printing, 3-Dimensional objects are created from just an idea in the form of a computer file. The 3D model is built by adding layers of material required. More and more companies are nowadays adopting the 3D printing process. What is the reason for that? What advantage do they see? Let us have a quick look at that.
One of the most amazing features of the 3D printer is its rapid prototyping capability. What is Rapid prototyping? Do not worry; I will give a quick explanation for those who do not know what it means. Rapid Prototyping is the ability to manufacture a product after designing it and test the product. The testing should take as little time as possible. And the next part of the rapid prototyping includes modifying the product. Modifying should be done in the least possible time. Before the great 3D printers came into being, a prototype would take a long time to manufacture. Sometimes it would take weeks. The modification of the model would take even longer than several weeks. It would become a very long process ultimately after including the shipping time. It would take over a year in total. With 3D printers, manufacturers and their companies can test and modify just within a few days! What an incredible speed!
Compared to other manufacturing techniques, 3D printing is worth its cost. Small producers and users of common applications would know that 3D printing is cost-effective for manufacturing. Processes like CNC machining and injection moulding will need a good number of expensive machines. These processes would also require a good amount of labour that would mean more labour cost! As we compare the cost to cost of 3D printers, it is quite high. The 3D printing only requires a few machines and thus, lesser workers are needed. Waste material is less and the 3D printing would not need additional tooling. 3D printers work at a commendable pace with rapid prototyping and speedy manufacturing.
Among many advantages of a 3D printing, flexibility stands out. A 3D printer will enable you to make the most products and almost any if it fits its volume! Isn’t it amazing? In the previous versions, a new design required a new tool or a jig to be created into a model. But in the 3D printing, the design and the needed support is given to the 3D printers. The design is then printed with no equipment at all! The traditional methods cannot ever produce the designs a 3D printing machine can do! It cannot even produce a single part. Geometries that the traditional methods are incapable of producing include hollow cavities. You can include a lot of single objects to form just one model with the help of 3D printing. The flexibility of 3D printing spreads even more. You can use a variety of textures and colours, separate and combined to create the best of the best! Your imagination will come to life in its best state: smooth and accurate.
You have heard that the increased speed and reduced cost of a product; its life cycle is reduced. The product users can improve a product after enabling them to deliver it in a shorter time. The great thing about 3D printing is that the business can expand amazingly. How does it benefit the business? You can display the product physically to your customer or the client instead of just giving them a sketch. The uncertainty of the situation would be reduced and good trust would be built between them. It would reduce the chances of miscommunications. The investors or clients can cost-effectively test your product and give reviews about it. The positive feedback and reviews would increase your customers.
Some disadvantages of 3D Printers
High energy consumption:
It requires a great amount of energy to produce a single art piece. If compared to the injection moulding, a 3D printer consumes about 50 to 100 times more energy. 3D printing is solely based upon the usage of plastic; thus, degrading for the environment. Surprising, isn’t it? But sadly, this is what the research at Loughborough University has proved. It consumes the most energy while melting plastics. The 3D printing takes about 100 times more energy than traditional printing does. This was shown by a research group dedicated to finding out more about environmental effects related to product manufacturing. all the 3D printer users know that for mass production it takes up a lot of energy. It is a good idea only for small scale productions.
Although 3D printing is a great advancement in technology. But the materials that are used in the manufacturing of the models are a limited resource. Moreover, they are still not sufficient to meet their demand. The material is still under development. Let us consider plastic as an example. It can be used more quickly and easily. Plastic can be used to form layers which would form a product. The problem that the plastic users face is that the plastic would have different strength capacities. Hence, it would not be proved as the best component as a raw material. Some manufacturers use metal as a raw material but the product models are not fully dense. The use of gold and glass is not common because it is not yet commercialised.
3D printers aren’t that user friendly
3D printers have been one widespread concept and idea and have been used widely since its creation. It is known to be a development in technology that had made things easier. However, we have a bit of an overstatement there. The truth is that it is not as easy as it sounds. The 3D printers work at the high-voltage power supply and require equipment that is hard to understand and use. The workers should have special expertise for using the 3D printer. There is another problem that is linked to the usage of the 3D printer. Some 3D printers have a really low resolution and have connectivity issues with wifi. With passing days, it is becoming easier to use and understand the usage of a 3D printer.
Despite its demerits, the 3D printer continues to be the most popular among other manufacturing processes.