What is 3D Printing?

Source: The Hindu

News: L&T Construction has 3D printed a G+1 (Ground plus one) building for the first time in India at Kancheepuram, Chennai with indigenous concrete mixture. 

Facts: 

  • 3D printing or additive manufacturing(AM) is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file. 

What is the process of 3D Printing?

  • The process starts with making a virtual design of the object that has to be created. 
  • This virtual design is made in a CAD (Computer Aided Design) file using a 3D modelling program (new object) or using a 3D scanner (existing object).  
  • Slicing software slices the final model into hundreds or thousands of horizontal layers. When this prepared file is uploaded in the 3D printer, the printer creates the object layer by layer. 
  • The 3D printer reads every slice (or 2D image) and proceeds to create the object blending each layer together with no sign of the layering visible, resulting in one three-dimensional object. 

 

  • Applications of 3D Printing: The 3D printing technology is used for both prototyping and distributed manufacturing with applications in architecture, construction, industrial design, automotive, aerospace, dental and medical industries, biotech (human tissue replacement), fashion, jewellery, education, geographic information systems and many other fields. 

What are the advantages of 3D Printing? 

  • Low cost: 3D printing is cheaper than traditional methods of manufacturing. 
  • Less Time: Printing of the 3D object can be done directly, differing from the traditional manufacturing where different components had to be joined to form the final product. 
  • Efficiency: Generating prototypes with 3D printers is much easier and faster with 3D printing technology. 
  • Flexibility: Different materials can be used in the 3D models. This makes it very easy to create construction models or prototypes for a wide variety of projects within many industries. 
  • Reduced wastage: AM process produces less waste in comparison with other traditional manufacturing techniques 

Issues with 3D Printing: 

  • Limited size: The size of objects created with 3d printers is currently limited 
  • Limited Raw Materials: With 3D printing being an additive method (layer after layer), the materials available suited for it are limited- ceramics, resin, plastics, etc. 
  • Effect on employment: Jobs in manufacturing will be rendered obsolete which will have a negative impact on developing economies. 
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