What is 3D Printing and How Does it Work?

3D printing is a process of creating three-dimensional objects from a digital file. It is the opposite of subtractive manufacturing processes, where a final design is cut from a larger block of material. This method of production generates less material waste and can take anywhere from a few hours for simple prints, such as a box or a ball, to days or weeks for more complex projects, such as a full-size house. 3D printing is also used to quickly repair machines and devices that wear out over time.

Plastics and metals are the most common materials used in 3D printing, but there are many other options available. For example, it is possible to print lenses in 3D. Traditional glass lenses are cut from a much larger block of material called white, resulting in 80% of the material being wasted. In addition, 3D printing technology has been studied for use in tissue engineering applications for the past two thousand years.

Each 3D printing process has its own advantages and limitations that make them more suitable for certain applications. Although 3D printing isn't necessarily new, some people may still be wondering what it is and how it works. Custom ophthalmic lenses can now be produced with high quality using 3D printing technology, eliminating past waste and inventory costs. Hearing specialists and mold laboratories use digital workflows and 3D printing to produce higher quality custom hearing products more consistently and with higher volumes for applications such as behind-the-ear hearing aids, hearing protection, and earplugs and earplugs personalized ears.

GE fuel nozzles also made their way into the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, but it's not the only 3D printed part of the 787. Structural accessories that hold the aft galley to the fuselage are 33-centimeter-long parts that are 3D printed by Norsk Titanium. When comparing the cost of different 3D printers, sticker prices won't tell you the full story of how much a 3D printed part will cost. Most 3D printers can operate unattended until printing is complete, and modern systems automatically refill the material needed for cartridge parts. Another 3D printed healthcare component that does a good job of being undetectable is the hearing aid.