3D Printing also known as additive manufacturing is a method of manufacturing physical object in an additive manner. During the process, an object is created by laying down successive layers of material until the entire object is created. Each of these printed layers is a thinly sliced, horizontal cross-section of the eventual object. Imagine a baker laying down each layer one at a time until the entire cake is formed.
3D printing has been used by manufacturers in their design process to create prototypes for traditional manufacturing and research purposes. Using 3D printers for these purposes is called rapid prototyping. The main advantage of doing so is to save cost and time as changes can be made instantly on the computer and the prototype reprinted on the same day.
Besides rapid prototyping, 3D printing is also used for rapid manufacturing. Rapid manufacturing is a new method of manufacturing where companies are using 3D printers for short run custom manufacturing. In this way of manufacturing, the printed objects are not prototypes but the actual end user product. Here you can expect more availability of personally customized products.
Personal printing for hobbyist who just want to print out their own customised designs.
- Fully customizable
- Produce complex physical shapes not limited by imagination
- On Demand at high speed, low cost
- Elimination of minimum order quantity
- Create only what you need
- Reduction of inventory constraints and parts obsolescence
- Streamlining of parts warehousing and logistics
- Extends main host equipment’s lifecycle by printing spare replacement parts
- Reduced complexity on parts suppliers management and demand forecasting
- Eliminating contractual-based supplier lock-in relationship
HOW DO I PRINT SOMETHING?
A digital file of an object must first be created using a 3D modeling program. Another software is then used to ‘slice’ the model into hundreds or thousands of horizontal layers. This data is then feed to a 3D printer to create the object by blending each layer together.
There are several ways to obtain 3D model.
Create your object: Using a Computer Aided Design (CAD) software
Scan your object: To create a 3D digital copy of the object that you want to print
Download free designs from some of these sites: myminifactory.com, grabcad.com and thingiverse.com