3D printing is a revolutionary technology that has been used for a variety of purposes, from prototyping to manufacturing. Designers use 3D printers to quickly create models and prototypes of products, but they are also increasingly used to manufacture final products. Items made with 3D printers include shoe designs, furniture, wax pieces for making jewelry, tools, tripods, gift items and novelties and toys. Prototyping has been the primary use of 3D printing for automotive applications.
With the ability to produce multiple design iterations in less time, 3D printing is an effective tool for product development. Technology has now evolved and can be used to create functional prototypes using high-performance materials such as ULTEM and PEEK. Thanks to 3D printing technology from start-up company Beheld, you can create a minifigure of your own. Some 3D printers even have the ability to print with carbon fiber and metal powders for extremely strong industrial products. Because 3D printing can produce physical parts from digital files in a matter of hours, companies can take advantage of a new model of manufacturing parts to order. Companies now offer mass customization services where consumers can customize objects through simple web-based personalization software, and order the resulting items (mobile phone cases, for example) as unique 3D printed objects.
The ability of 3D modeling software to enable precision designs is why 3D printing is being hailed as a real change in many industries. While 3D printing originated as a tool for rapid prototyping, it has now evolved to encompass a number of different technologies. Hospitals are increasingly incorporating 3D printing into their laboratories to create patient-specific anatomical models. In addition to training tomorrow's workforce in CAD and 3D printing, universities are beginning to see the benefits of implementing 3D printers in a wide range of educational disciplines. In addition, 3D printing offers car enthusiasts a way to customize their vehicles or restore old cars with parts that are no longer in production.
And when combined with computed tomography, 3D printing can be used to provide patient-specific solutions, such as implants and dental appliances. The aerospace and defense industry (A&D) is one of the first to adopt 3D printing, and the first use of the technology dates back to 1989. Schools around the world use 3D printers to bring hands-on learning to the classroom by printing three-dimensional dinosaur bones and robotic parts. An example of a company using 3D printing for clear aligners at Align Technology, the largest producer of clear aligners, known under the Invisalign brand. From dentistry and healthcare to consumer goods, architecture and manufacturing, the public is increasingly interacting with the final products of 3D printing. The Austrian jewelry company BOLTENSTERN has used 3D printing to produce pieces of jewelry such as bracelets, earrings, necklaces and cufflinks. As 3D printing costs decrease and become more accessible, it opens new doors for modeling applications.