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Tuesday, 30 July 2013

3D Printing - Technology Transforming Dreams Into Reality

3D Printing - Technology Transforming Dreams Into Reality

It’s every designer’s dream to transform his idea into a physical object that he can touch and feel. 3D printing technology helps to transform this dream into reality by creating any3D objects of any shape virtual model.
3D Printer
3D Printer

How it works?

First of all, a 3D digital image is made using CAD (Computer-Aided Design) software. The image generated is in the form of .STL, .WRL (VRML), .PLY, .3DS and .ZPR files, is then sent to 3D printer. Then 3D printer places consecutive layers of liquid, powder, paper or metal material and constructs 3D model of the image by shaping series of cross-sections.

Different techniques used to build 3D objects.

There are different types of 3D printing techniques invented after 1970. Some of them are following.

1. Extrusion process: - In this process, plastic filament or metal wire is used which is wound around the coil and is reeled off to supply material to extrusion nozzle. The nozzle heats the material to melt and can be moved in horizontal and vertical directions. As soon as the material extrudes out from the nozzle, it hardens.
Materials used in this process are Thermoplastics (e.g. PLA, ABS), HDPE, eutectic metals, edible materials. Different polymers like acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), polycarbonate (PC), polylactic acid (PLA), high density polyethylene (HDPE), PC/ABS, and polyphenylsulfone (PPSU) are used as filament.
But still the extrusion process is not the best because it cannot build cylinder like structures as they will not be supported during the building process.

3D Printer - Nozzles
3D Printer - Nozzles
2. Granular bed: - Materials like titanium alloys, metal alloys or thermoplastic are mixed together to form granular bed. Then it fuses the parts layer by layer till the object is manufactured. A laser is used to make solid objects from the powder. This process of making solid objects from powder is called Sintering. Sintering technique involved in this process is Selective laser sintering.
3D Printing - Granular process
3D Printing - Granular process
3. Lamination Process: - Materials like paper, metal foil or plastic film is used to build the object by laminating. Printing cost in this technique is lower.
3D Printing - Laminating Film
3D Printing - Laminating Film
4. Light Polymerization: - Light Polymerization is basically a technique to build solid object out of liquid. This technique makes the use of tub of liquid polymer that is disclosed to light which in turn hardens. Then the build plate shifts in small amount in downward direction and again the liquid is disclosed under light. This process is repeated till the object has been generated. The left over liquid is then drained from the tub, giving the solid object. Another system like Inkjet printer sprays photopolymer material in thin layers on the solid object to make it complete.
3D Printing - Light Polymerization
3D Printing - Light Polymerization


  • With 3D printing, a Company can develop large number of products in less time hence, increases the manufacturing speed.
  • Also you can easily print out small objects at home rather than going to the store to buy which consumes time. You can send the digital copy of 3D object anywhere in the world over the internet so that your friends or relatives don’t have to worry about getting the physical object if it isn’t available in their area provided they have 3D printer.
  • If you are good at designing, you can get your imagination transformed into actual object in much less time.
  • Though the price of 3D printer is quite high, but once you get it, the object made out of it will cost very cheaper.
  • It creates more jobs as more engineers are required to build 3D printers and more technicians are required to preserve and utilize those printers.


  • As 3D printer is a machine, it prints whatever you want without knowing how badly the object is going to affect. This might be helpful to criminals to print the dangerous objects which may increases the risk of criminal activity.
  • There will be reduction in manufacturing jobs as most of the work will be done by machine without involving much labor.
  • With 3D printing, the printing of copyrighted products will become more common resulting into building of fake products and difficult to determine.
  • Objects built from 3D printer are limited in size. The common 3D printer provides size enough to fit on your desktop. There are other printers that are able to build larger objects but still to build larger objects require larger amount to pay.
  • 3D printers built objects out of only plastic, few metals and ceramics presently.



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