D Printing In Laymans Terms
Before moving on, its important to define 3D printing in laymens terms for the uninitiated readers. If you already understand the workings of 3D technology, feel free to skip this section. For everyone else, itll pay you to read through it. Dont worry were not going to get too technical here.
Youll often hear others refer to 3D printing as additive manufacturing . The latter involves the whole process of making 3D solid objects from computer-generated files, or digital files. The actual 3D printing process is only one part of the entire procedure. Despite this, the two terms are largely interchangeable these days, so for the sake of simplicity well use 3D printing most of the time.
So what is 3D printing exactly and why should you care?
3D printing technology has begun to revolutionize the way we produce entire physical objects and parts in the last few years. The range of things produced by 3D printing today is vast, and continues to get more ambitious. At the time of writing, we can 3D print anything from simple toys to clothing to tools. We can also use the technology to produce musical instruments and even human body parts. Yes, you did read that right. The potential, it seems, is endless.
How does 3D printing work exactly?
What else do I need to know about 3D printing and printer technology?
The First Affordable Fdm 3d Printers
The first affordable FDM 3D printer kit was released in January 2009. It was called the BfB RapMan printer and although it was first, it wasnt ugly or terrible. Future iterations were made, and perhaps it would have made a bigger impact if the fledgling company we mentioned earlier hadnt appeared three months later.
The first Makerbot DIY 3D printer kit released in April 2009. Makerbot were supporters of the open source community, and their first printer, called Cupcake CNC, could be built entirely from parts downloadable from Thingiverse. Demand exploded, and Makerbot had to ask their customers for help to create parts for their backlog of orders. Makerbot were becoming the early kings of affordable desktop 3D printers.
2009 wasnt just a year for FDM printers however. Organovo, a 3D bioprinting firm, managed to create the first 3D printed blood vessel. This was managed on a new 3D bioprinter which showed significant promise for the future creation of whole organs such as kidneys and hearts.
- We also have a feature story on how close we are to functioning 3D printed hearts.
Other 3d Printing Technologies
In 1988, Carl Deckard, a student at the University of Texas at Austin, invented the SLS technology. The Selective Laser Sintering technology uses powdered polymer materials that are fused with lasers to form the final product.
Around the same time, Scott Crump filed a patent for Fused Deposition Modelling and co-founded Stratasys Inc.
So, in less than a decade, three popular 3D printing technologies were invented.
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How Does 3d Printing Work
Much like traditional printers, 3D printers use a variety of technologies. The most commonly known is fused deposition modeling , also known as fused filament fabrication . In it, a filamentcomposed of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene , polylactic acid , or another thermoplasticis melted and deposited through a heated extrusion nozzle in layers. The first 3D printers to come to market, made in the mid 1990s by Stratasys with help from IBM, used FDM , as do most 3D printers geared to consumers, hobbyists, and schools.
Another technology used in 3D printing is stereolithography. In it, a UV laser is shined into a vat of ultraviolet-sensitive photopolymer, tracing the object to be created on its surface. The polymer solidifies wherever the beam touches it, and the beam “prints” the object layer by layer per the instructions in the CAD or CAM file it’s working from.
In a variation on that, you also have digital light projector 3D printing. This method exposes a liquid polymer to light from a digital light processing projector. This hardens the polymer layer by layer until the object is built, and the remaining liquid polymer is drained off.
Multi-jet modeling is an inkjet-like 3D printing system that sprays a colored, glue-like binder onto successive layers of powder where the object is to be formed. This is among the fastest methods, and one of the few that supports multicolor printing.
The 1980s: When Was 3d Printing Invented
The first documented iterations of 3D printing can be traced back to the early 1980s in Japan. In 1981, Hideo Kodama was trying to find a way to develop a rapid prototyping system. He came up with a layer-by-layer approach for manufacturing, using a photosensitive resin that was polymerized by UV light.
Although Kodama was unable to file the patent requirement of this technology, he is most often credited as being the first inventor of this manufacturing system, which is an early version of the modern SLA machine.
Across the world a few years later, a trio of French researchers was also seeking to create a rapid prototyping machine. Instead of resin, they sought to create a system that cured liquid monomers into solids by using a laser.
Similar to Kodama, they were unable to file a patent for this technology, but they are still credited with coming up with the system.
That same year, Charles Hull, filed the first patent for Stereolithography . An American furniture builder who was frustrated with not being able to easily create small custom parts, Hull developed a system for creating 3D models by curing photosensitive resin layer by layer.
In 1986 he submitted his patent application for the technology, and in 1988 he went on to found the 3D Systems Corporation. The first commercial SLA 3D printer, the SLA-1, was released by his company in 1988.
But SLA wasnt the only additive manufacturing process being explored during this time.
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The 1980s: Birth Of The Main 3d Printing Techniques
The concept of 3D printing has been imagined back in the 1970s, but the first experiments are dated from 1981. The first 3D printing attempts are granted to Dr Kodama for his development of a rapid prototyping technique. He was the first to describe a layer by layer approach for manufacturing, creating an ancestor for SLA : a photosensitive resin was polymerized by an UV light. Unfortunately, he did not file the patent requirement before the deadline.
A few years later, a French team of engineers, Alain Le Méhauté, Olivier de Witte and Jean-Claude André, was interested by the stereolithography but abandoned due to a lack of business perspective. This 3D printing attempt was also using a stereolithography process.
If you want more information about these first experiences, check out our interview of Jean-Claude André. At the same time, Charles Hull was also interested in the technology and submitted a first patent for stereolithography in 1986. He founded the 3D Systems Corporation and in 1988, released the SLA-1, their first commercial product.
If SLA was the first 3D printing technology developed, what about SLS and FDM back then?
In 1988, at the University of Texas, Carl Deckard brought a patent for the SLS technology, another 3D printing technique in which powder grains are fused together locally by a laser.
1988: First SLS machine by DTM Inc then buy by 3D system
Cody Wilson And The 3d Printed Gun
Later in 2013, Cody Wilson became a viral sensation after his company Defense Distributed posted an STL file on its site for 3D printing a working 3D printed gun. The US Government ordered Defense Distributed to remove the designs three days later, but the gun had already been downloaded over 100,000 times.
Metal 3D printing has recently become big talk, but before 2015 when tens of startups appeared, the industry was dominated by a few large players like EOS, Arcam and SLM Solutions. 3D Systems intent in getting involved in the metal 3D printing sector led to them acquiring French company Phenix Systems in July 2013. 3D Systems paid $15.1M for 81% of the shares and integrated Phenixs metal 3D printers into their product range.
Evolution Of 3d Printing
The genesis of 3D printing lies in two principal predecessors: inkjet printing, as discussed above, and additive manufacturing.
Additive manufacturing was first developed in the 1980s. In 1984 two separate patents were filed for stereolithography, one by a French group and one by Chuck Hull of 3D Systems Corporation in the USA. The 3D Systems method was the first to be developed commercially. It involved curing photopolymers with lasers. This work also resulted in the development of the STL file format and related modeling techniques. 3D Systems continues to produce 3D printers today.
The FDM process discussed above was developed in 1988 by S. Scott Crump and commercialized by the Stratasys Corporation. The first commercial FDM printer was produced by Stratasys in 1992. Stratasys went on to grow and acquire several companies with related technologies and remains also one of the principal suppliers of 3D printing technologies.
The term 3D Printing was first used for a slightly different process developed at MIT in 1993 and commercialized by the Z Corporation. This process alternated depositing layers of powdered material and layers of a liquid binder to form the actual shape. Z Corporation was later acquired by 3D Systems.
Another important company in 3D printing, Solidscape, first appeared in 1993. Solidscape specializes in producing extremely high precision wax models. These models are used to produce fine jewelry and precision industrial objects.
A House Made With Printers
What has happened in this time to make the big leap? Precision, his creator said in an interview with CNN. Because cure from a liquid to a solid, they tend to shrink and they can distort. But that chemistry has been vastly improved, so theres almost no distortion now. Also the physical properties: initially the materials would break easily. Nowadays you get really good, tough plastic materials.â
The improvement in materials and technology, coupled with a reduction of the priceâyou can get printers from 1,200 eurosâhas created a universe in three dimensions of infinite possibilities. There is already food that can be printed in 3D. A group of scientists at the University of California is trying to create a whole house with these machines. The blueprints can be downloaded from the Internet so that anything can be created by anyone, anywhere. This democratization of production has led to the maker movement and to a wave of three-dimensional models. But of all the fields, there is one that stands out above the rest: medicine. Prosthetics, medicines, tissues and even organs are being printed in 3D. It is revolutionizing the way of doing surgeries and of rehabilitating a patient.
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Beginnings Of Reprap And 3d Printing Goes Hd
During the years 2004 and 2005, the beginnings of what is arguably the single most important event in 3D printing history occurred. A senior lecturer at the University of Bath, Dr. Adrian Bowyer, had been inspired by 3D printing and had ideas for 3D printers that could self-replicate building more versions of themselves.
Id been interested in self-reproducing machines since I was a child, I dont really know where that originated nearly 70 years ago. That was a constant background interest. Though it wasnt a research activity, I had not done any research into self-replicating machines.
They were fabulously expensive: the cheapest one when I started the RepRap project cost around £40,000, and in fact that was one of the ones we bought at the university. When I looked at how it worked, it seemed it would be possible to make such a machine at a considerably reduced price, but my primary aim was to produce a machine that could produce most of its parts. And so, that was the way the project went. Dr Bowyer, in an interview with 3DSourced.
The movement, named RepRap , started off as an initiative within the University of Bath, but later gained popularity worldwide. The project was open source and focused on the spreading of low-cost 3D printing worldwide, leading to its democratization. Interest in these low cost 3D printers skyrocketed as people edited and tinkered with his designs.
- Weve also ranked the best RepRap 3D printers.
To 201: 3d Printings Adolescent History
The lead-up to Y2K was thrillingnot only because, in 1999, the first Beverly Hills 90210 entered itfs final season on the air, but also because the initial 3D-printed manhood was planted in humans. Researchers at Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine published artificial molds of a human bladder and then coated these molds with the cells of human patients.
The newly generated tissue was then implanted into the patients, with little to no chancethat their immune systems would reject them since they were created from their own cells.
Medically speaking, this was a terrific decade in the history of 3D printing. In just 10 short years, scientists from various institutions and startups fabricated a functional miniature kidney, bioprinted the first blood vessels using only human cells, and assembled a prosthetic leg with complicated parts which were printed within precisely the exact same structure.
This was also the decade in which 3D printing fulfilled the open-source movement. In 2005, Dr. Adrian Bowyers RepRap Project established an open-source initiative to make a 3D printer which could essentially build itself, or print almost all of its own pieces!
In its 2008 launch, Darwin, is a self-replicating printer that is equipped to do precisely that. Suddenly, people everywhere had the ability to create whatever substance they could dream up by themselves.
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Cad Crown Has Freelance 3d Printing Services
This is where Cad Crowd comes in! We offer world-class 3D printing design services for anyone who has a product idea but lacks the expertise to create a CAD file. With our contract 3D printing services, we also take you to the next step and connect you with leading additive manufacturing companies ready to produce your design. Learn how it works or get a free quote when youre ready to get started.
Other Benefits Are Listed Below:
Reduce Lead Times
A faster transition from design creation to production is a common advantage of additive manufacturing. With that, businesses of all sizes can save their time. Apart from that, the process does not require specific machining devices. All you have to do is to remove support structures and other elements. This allows you to avoid the hassles of post-processing time.
Using injection molding is also a reasonable alternative to produce a large series of similar elements. But it takes time and effort. Typically, it requires approximately 15 days depending on the project. 3D metal printers, on the contrary, can reduce it to 3 days.
Avoid Material Waste and Cut Unnecessary Costs
The use of additive manufacturing can lead to the reduction of material waste. 3D metal printing adds and forms raw material layer by layer. Operators also dont subtract a solid bulk figure. They only place a raw material when the need arises, making the procedure resource-efficient.
A New and Effective Technique for Design Applications
3D printing technologies also make the production of complex and unique structures possible. Before, it was necessary to add some elements in post-production. Adding the threads and holes, for example, requires further machining, which increases the time and effort to achieve a good shape.
Additive manufacturing, on the other hand, does not generate unnecessary expenses. Also, it can lessen the complexity of the process.
Strong and Stylish Finish
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What Can 3d Printers Make
Designers use 3D printers to quickly create product models and prototypes, but they’re increasingly being used to make final products, as well. Among the items made with 3D printers are shoe designs, furniture, wax castings for making jewelry, tools, tripods, gift and novelty items, and toys. The automotive and aviation industries use 3D printers to make parts. Artists can create sculptures, and architects can fabricate models of their projects. Archaeologists are using 3D printers to reconstruct models of fragile artifacts, including some of the antiquities that in recent years have been destroyed by ISIS. Likewise, paleontologists and their students can duplicate dinosaur skeletons and other fossils. Check out our gallery of simple and practical 3D printer objects.
Physicians and medical technicians can use 3D printing to make prosthetics, hearing aids, artificial teeth, and bone grafts, as well as replicate models of organs, tumors, and other internal bodily structures from CT scans in preparation for surgery. A good example is Project Daniel, which 3D-prints prosthetic arms and hands for victims of the violence in Sudan. Also, 3D printers being developed that can lay down layers of cells to create artificial organs are already in the R& D phase. There’s even a place for 3D printing in forensics, for example to replicate a bullet lodged inside a victim.
Stage : The Adolescent History Of 3d Printing
The adolescent history runs from 1999 through to 2010. The general public still wasnt familiar with 3D printing technology, but there were plenty of others who were. This was the decade where we saw the first ever 3D printed organ. In this case it was a human bladder. We have the Scientists at Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine to thank for that. First they 3D printed the synthetic scaffolds of the organ. After that, they coated it with actual cells taken from real patients. Its what happened next that was so exciting. Surgeons were able to implant the newly formed tissue into patients. What made this so groundbreaking is that the patients own immune system would not reject an implant made of their own body cells. Even today it sounds farfetched, but it happened, and bigger and better things continue to happen.
As far as medicine goes, this was the decade for 3D printing technologies. As research continued, more amazing medical uses for 3D printing emerged. Here are just three others that are hard to believe: