3D Printing: A Revolutionary Game Changer?

3D Printing is one of the most remarkable new industrial technologies now and possibly for years to come.  Believe it or not, the technology has actually been in use since the 1980′s when it was referred to as Rapid Manufacturing.  The terms Additive Manufacturing and Stereolithography have not been added to the mix, although they are simply just more complex names for similar tools.

According to a recent article in Forbes Magazine, 3D Printers have evolved to the point where they can assist manufacturers in building an object in three dimensions. This is accomplished through multiple layers, each only microns thick.  A huge advantage is the elimination of wasted materials which traditionally have been leftover byproducts of the manufacturing process.  Perhaps most impressive is the fact that the overall manufacturing costs can be dramatically decreased through the use of the 3D Printing technology, making it incredibly attractive.

Another positive attribute of 3D Printing is customization without restriction.  By simply changing the sketch or drawing prior to printing, prototypes and models can be easily assembled and then modified.  However, the technology is not just for modeling; it can also be used to make an infinite number of rare parts in industries ranging from airplanes to healthcare. In fact, a San Diego-based company is currently exploring the possibility of using 3D Printing in the production of organic tissues that can then be used to test pharmaceuticals.  It goes without saying that the ability to perform human-type testing without exposing humans or animals to unknown dangers would have enormous potential for the future of healthcare and the prevention and treatment of illness. Remarkably, prosthetics companies are also exploring the use of 3D Printing to create functional prototypes of artificial limbs.  This could play a dramatic role in the rehabilitation of veterans returning from war and serve as a method of reducing healthcare costs for a significant portion of the US population, not to mention provide an improved solution for amputees to regain functional independence.

With any new technology, there are bound to be questions and concerns.  Clearly all of the answers and possibilities are not available without further research and development.  However, advances with 3D Printing are emerging nearly every day and soon we may be regarding this technology as a modern marvel and the solution to accelerated growth combined with reduced cost and ease of use.  You’re sure to hear more on this topic from the popular newsfeeds in the coming months.

 

Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/gcaptain/2012/03/06/will-3d-printing-change-the-world/