Three-dimensional (3D) printing is an additive manufacturing process that creates a physical object from a digital design. The process works by placing thin layers of material in the form of liquid or powdered plastic, metal, or cement, and then fusing the layers together. In this process, organs are first modeled in 3D using the exact specifications of the recipient's body, then a combination of living cells and polymer gel (better known as bioink) is printed layer by layer to create a living human organ. In the automotive industry, automakers use 3D printing to test shape and fit, to experiment with aesthetic finishes and ensure that all parts work and interact as intended.
Today, precious metals can be 3D printed in a variety of patterns and designs quickly and cost-effectively. Many industrial applications require durable plastics, such as Nylon 12, and most amateur applications use PLA or ABS, which are the most common materials used in FDM 3D printing. 3D printing, which is not the realm of amateurs, is poised to change manufacturing and revolutionize the aerospace industry. There are many applications for 3D printing in the medical industry, and every year doctors and scientists come up with new and creative ways to use this rapidly growing technology.
Both approaches can produce exactly the same result, but solid modeling is faster for simple, non-organic shapes, whereas surface modeling is faster for more organic shapes. Stereolithography An additive 3D printing process that builds layer upon layer by curing a resin with a laser. Surface modeling is similar, except that the designer starts with 2D surfaces and gives them “free” shape to create 3D shapes. Some 3D printers can 3D print with other materials, such as metals and ceramics, but they cost too much money for most people.
In addition, there is at least one group that offers students a way to use their school's 3D printers to create prosthetic parts for medical use. In the early 2000s, fierce competition for profits, advances in materials science, and the end of many patents created an environment in which 3D printing finally became affordable for the masses. Directed energy deposition is common in the metal industry and works by a 3D printing apparatus connected to a multi-axis robotic arm with a nozzle for applying metal powder. Selecting the optimal 3D printing process for a particular part can be difficult, as there is often more than one suitable process, but each of them will produce subtle variations in cost and production.