The Evolution Of 3D Printers

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3D printers have changed our world for the better and keeps having a huge effect on all industries. From the start to just helping manufacturing industries to now being used in education and many other areas. Now people are even buying it for their own personal use. Opening a whole world of opportunities and creativity the 3d printer is now a evolutionary tool.

 

Who invented the first 3D printer?

On March 9th, 1983 Charles W Hull demonstrated the first successful 3D printer in action, he then patented his technology on August 8th 1984. This was a stereolithography (SLA) 3D printer. It had a pool of resin liquid that hardens when exposed to ultraviolet light. A laser on the roof of the 3D printer would shine UV light and sketch the print layer by layer until it was completed. He later co founded 3D systems, a company designed to bring 3D printers to the public for commercial use.

Seeing the potential of 3D printers many manufacturers and companies started to use 3D printers for prototyping. This gave companies an easier and quicker way for building prototypes for testing and perfecting the product before mass producing it for commercial use.

 

What is the most common type of 3D printer used?

In 1988 S.Scott Crump was gluing together a toy frog with a glue gun when he realized he could automate this process by melting plastic to build it up layer by layer to make a 3D object. From this revelation he made the Fused deposition modeling(FDM) 3D printer in 1989. Later that same year he went to patent his newly found method of 3D printing, that was the foundation for his new company which he founded also in 1989 called Stratasys.

FDM 3D printers and the printing material that this type of printer uses which is most commonly plastic are both easier and cheaper to make than SLA 3d printers.This made FDM 3D printers the most commonly used type of 3D printer. Many manufacturers started to use it for prototyping/testing their products and inventions. Now as it has become affordable it is widely used by hobbyist and private owners for their own fun projects.

Later on new companies were creating other 3d printing technologies that became useful for very specific manufacturers and industries.

 

Which industries use 3D printing?

Most industries are taking advantage of 3d printers and the benefits that come with using this technology. Nowadays 3d printing is used in the manufacturing, medical, aerospace ,food, jewelry, dental, military, automobile industry and now even small businesses. This has revolutionized how industries make and create their products. 3D printers have made it possible to make and modify products on the spot with-out having to send the designs to a third party.

This process was very expensive and would take a long time. This is why 3d printers have been so successful for prototyping as they have cut the price and the time it takes to design something. Designing with 3D printers also gives you the chance to easily modify and perfect your products on the spot, that is a huge advantage over how it was done before as it use to be expensive and complex for every change you wanted to make to your design.

 

What do Industries use 3D printers for?

Manufacturing industry: There are 3d printing services that manufacture and print out your design. This companies have very high quality 3d printers giving you really good results. They even have very expensive types of 3D printers that can print with materials that your average 3D printer can’t print with such as titanium, ceramic, metals and other materials. This services are used by individuals or small companies that aren’t looking to spend so much on high tech 3D printers and won’t need to be constantly using them.

Medical industry: The medical industry is utilizing 3D printers in many different ways and fields.

-Prosthetics: It has had a major effect in making prosthetics for people and even animals who need them. The main challenge was that each individual needs a different shape and size prosthetic. Now with 3D printers that is no longer a challenge as you can make customized prosthetics exactly how you want it in any size and form. This can be done on the spot for a lot cheaper than it was before.

This process is also being used for animals. A popular story was when a group 3d printed a tortoise shell for freddy a tortoise that lost it’s shell in a fire and without the shell he would not survive. Without a 3D printer it would of been to expensive to recreate the shell with regular manufacturing methods. This technology is also being used to create prosthetics for dogs and cats who need them.

 

– Organ transplant: The regular method of organ transplant is where they find someone who has the same type of blood and is donating the organ the patient needs. This takes a lot of time ,effort and normally there is a lot more people who need organs than donors which causes a shortage. We now have Bio 3D printers were you can grow organs. So far we are able to make simpler organs such as ears, skin and bone. The most complex organ made so far is a really small kidney that worked just like a human sized kidney.

The vision for this technology would be to develop it to a point where we can grow any organ needed from the same DNA of the patient. A lot of the time in organ transplants the body rejects another person’s organ and this is a huge challenge. Once bio 3D printers are perfected having the ability to print any organ from the patient’s own DNA on demand will save a lot of lives. This idea can also be used in regrowing limbs and re attaching it to the patient.

 

-Anatomy Education: 3D printers are being used to educate doctors and nurses even before they see a patient in a real life medical situation. Many organs and body parts made of plastic and rubber are now 3D printed for learning purposes before they see the real thing. 3D scanners are also used to scan a variation in size and shape of bones and other body parts that are then 3D printed. This helps a pre med student see variation in size and looks of parts of the body, this helps them for when they become medical professionals.

 

Dental Industry: 3D printing technology with scanning tech have made dental procedures a lot quicker and cheaper. First your mouth and teeth are scanned, then a digital 3D model of your teeth a produced. With a digital CAD file of your teeth your dentist can 3D print whatever the individual requires. Crowns, bridges , full set of teeth and even teeth retainers are now being 3D printed. Before the old way was to send a mold and images to a dental lab. There they would make and form crowns and bridges by grinding and shaping porcelain by hand. This is a long process and the individuals are highly trained with many years of experience.

Now the dental industry has completely changed using printers. This new process does not require the need to send the design and have to ship the final product back because 3D printers can be located in the same dental office. Another huge advantage is that it does not need many hours of labour from a skilled worker to manually make the product. The cost and time of this procedures have dramatically decreased and will continue to do so with the advancement of 3d printing technology.

 

Automobile Industry: Of cores a huge part of making cars better is designing then testing those new parts. 3D printers are playing a huge role in the automobile industry when it comes to improving and testing new pieces. Although in your everyday life you may think of a car as one whole unit it is actually made of thousands of small parts which when put together creates the car. Automotive engineers can now experiment with different designs and use different materials more effectively. This is made possible because of 3d printing technology. Engineers have 3D printers in their working offices where they make improvements to parts. For example trying to make lighter, cheaper and stronger fenders for cars then testing different prototypes to see which is the best result.

A big part of the automobile industry is customization. Most automobile owners want to make their car special and unique representing themselves in it. 3D printers are going to shine when it comes to making your own car. There is a company already making completely personalized cars with 3d printers. Its incredible to think you will be able to order a car exactly the way you want it to look from its shape to its size. This sounds like science fiction but it is becoming a reality with 3d printers.

 

Food Industry: 3D printers can be a huge help in the food industry. Although this is all quite new food 3D printers are being used in smaller chocolate factories to make uniquely shaped and flavour chocolates. This gives such companies the distinction of having their one of a kind shapes and flavours that are continually changing to keep their customers excited. There are now also pizza 3d printers which were inspired by the need of making food in space. Astronauts normally eat frozen and dried foods. They now are attempting to make a 3d printer which could print in space and a huge advantage of 3d printing food is that there will never be any waste. Any leftovers can be put back into the 3d printer to make new meals. NASA says food 3D printers could also help end earth hunger by maximizing the use of food and minimizing waste.

Another area 3d printers are impacting is in nurseries for people who have trouble chewing or swallowing. Their foods are mostly puree which become repetitive and boring. With 3D printers they are starting to make new exciting meals with a pleasing appeal. They have gotten huge positive feed back from their testing in nurseries, helping people get their nutrition while being exited of the food they eat. The vision of food 3d printers is that one day they will be in every home were with the press of a button you’ll be able to print any meal you want in the world.

 

Aerospace industry: The aerospace industry was one of the earliest industries to start adopting 3d printers for manufacturing and testing purposes. A french airline Airbus has been partnered with stratasys to make parts for their planes starting only with a few parts. Now they have more than 1000 3D printed parts used on their planes. They will keep using 3d printers to improve their planes and recently they have expanded their budget to about 15 billion dollars as a contract for 3d printed parts. With 3D printers they are able to make lighter, strong and reliable parts with virtually no waste material. This helps reduce the cost and time of the manufacturing process.

Companies are now working hard to get working 3D printers into space for manufacturing. The idea is that they will have 3d printers plus some robotic arms in space to assemble satellites and other products in space. This would hugely help to reduce the cost and risk of manufacturing satellites. Raw materials would be sent to the manufacturing station in space and then used to produce satellites and other products. You might have heard about the mission to colonize mars and how it will happen starting around 2030. 3D printers might play a huge roll from making 3d printed food on the spaceship to making the first commercial products on mars.

 

Jewelry industry: Jewelry making can be dated as far back as 85 000 years ago. Throughout history the techniques for making jewelry have been pretty much the same until the 21th century. The way it was done was a professional with many years of experience would  craft the model of the jewelry by hand. This model made of wax is then casted, melted then removed making a mold of the jewelry. With the mold hot gold is poured in and cooled making the custom jewelry. Making the wax model of the jewelry by hand can take weeks to complete. This all changed with 3d printers now the jewelry is designed on a computer then 3D printed. The whole process with a 3d printer can take less than a day. This changed the industry completely making the process much quicker and cheaper.

Now with the ease of being able to 3D print jewelry many kids and adults are now 3d printing their own fun jewelry at home made of plastics. Also there are tons of services for making custom 3d printed jewelry made of other materials making it a cool option as a gift for someone.

 

Why are 3D printers now being made for commercial use?

Although 3D printers have been around since the 1980s only in the last couple of years they been sold commercially. The main reason was that 3D printers were quite expensive in the beginning with only a few companies making them. As 3D printing and manufacturing technology advanced they became cheaper and cheaper. 3D printing companies then started to mass produce affordable 3D printers to sell to the public. At the start many hobbyists got very interested in 3D printers because of the ability to design and print your own models.

Now we see the advancements and capability of 3D printers more and more on the media. How it’s affecting our world and what you can do with 3D printers. Because of this now people are more aware of 3D printers which are now becoming more popular every day.Since the beginning of time people have loved the idea of being able to create and design things. Now with 3D printers being so affordable this has become easier and cheaper. This opens up the imagination and creativity of people with the infinite possibilities 3d printers will bring.

 

Why is 3D printing the future?

3D printing started in the 80s for improving prototyping in the manufacturing industry. Now it’s taken an evolutionary step by improving every industry out there. 3D printers have made it easier and a lot cheaper to create objects for a specific need and purpose. For example making a prosthetic leg for a small cat that without 3d printers would be very expensive to design and make. Also producing and making parts from the car industry to the aerospace industry for testing and then using them in real life applications. This is currently how 3D printers are shaping our world.

But how will our future look with 3D printers in them. Most people will have their own 3D printers in their own homes which will have the capacity to print virtually anything. For example if you want new clothes, headphones or even a new phone you could just print it right at home.The 3D printer will have the raw materials in powder or liquid form. From that it will be able to make anything you need. Also imagine in a hospital you can get a organ that you need 3d printed from your own DNA right before surgery. Or if you want to live longer you could print a brand new body and transplant your brain. Anytime you get hungry you just print out any meal with the click of a button. It will revolutionize every aspect of our lives making life easier and more creative.

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