When is 3d printing used?

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. Creativity and problem solving in schools have been driven by 3D printing. The 3D printing process takes anywhere from a few hours for really simple prints, such as a box or a ball, to days or weeks for much larger detailed projects, such as a full-size house.

DLP uses lamps to produce prints at higher speeds than SLA printing because the layers dry in seconds. The company claims that it can 3D print a working rocket in a few days and with a hundred times fewer parts than a normal shuttle. The Luxexcel VisionEngine 3D printer uses a UV-curable acrylate monomer to print two pairs of lenses per hour that do not require any polishing or post-processing. As an industry that is already based on geometric design, prototyping and modeling, architecture benefits greatly from advances in 3D printing technology.

Companies like MakerBot offer certification courses in 3D printing applications for both educators and students. When modeling and cutting a 3D object is complete, it's time for the 3D printer to finally take over. Origin Labs, within the Innovation Center, will have a space dedicated to 3D printing for students and the wider community. In situations where a product is not going to be mass-produced, 3D printing (also known as “additive manufacturing” in manufacturing circles) is ideal, as it allows the relatively economical production of a product in much smaller volumes or on a case-by-case basis.

Just a few examples of 3D printing technology in the arts include Banksy, the mysterious and famous British street artist, whose works have been rendered from 2D to 3D using 3D printing with powder binding. Recently, they began integrating 3D printing by selective laser sintering (SLS) into the frame production line in their Swiss workshop to print end-use parts and quick tools for forming titanium. While low-volume manufacturing adapts to the capabilities of 3D printing, advances in technology make 3D printing a viable higher-volume production option. The team wanted to know if they could remove the housing and replace it with a 3D printed replica designed specifically for this bird.

The 3D printing apparatus is generally connected to a multi-axis robotic arm and consists of a nozzle that deposits powder or metal wire on a surface and an energy source (laser, electron beam or plasma arc) that melts it, forming a solid object. German industrial manufacturing company Siemens has revealed that it will invest £27 million to open the UK's largest 3D printing factory in Worcester in partnership with Material Solutions.