Definition and applications of 3D printer

What is 3D printer?

The 3D printer is an add-on technological device that allows you to create objects by overlapping layers of a given material. The technology of 3D printing basically consists of the creation of models and pieces in 3 dimensions based on a design made by means of a computer, it could be said that the origin of the current 3D printers dates back to 1976 in the produced the creation of inkjet printers.

The development of the 2D inkjet printing industry has led to the development and development of new technologies in recent decades to the new 3D printing technology used for numerous applications and production processes in many fields such as prosthetics, Medicine, jewelry, means of locomotion and even the food industry.

The new 3D printers can mold not only plastic (that today do the cheapest ones), but also metal, carbon fibers, wood and even food which makes it possible to have a lot of applications.

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How does a 3D printer work?

We began to talk about 3D printers that allow us to print what we see on our computer, through a process in which different information is used, so that we get to have it in our hands. This logically is not a process equal to what is currently experienced and does not mean that if we download a file we will be able to print it in three dimensions. This requires a much more complex process.

A while ago this 3D impressions was on everyone’s lips because The Pirate Bay, the most famous torrent site on the web, dedicated a section, called Physibles, to your site so that users can upload .torrents with these files. At that time was only the famous ship, while now can download several dozens of files.

It all came about several years ago when a group of MIT experts started wanting to print what they saw in the .CAD files. Although it is thought that in the future you will be able to print sneakers, parts of cars and, basically, what happens to us as today is printed sheets of paper with drawings in two dimensions, that is not the place where technology is found in the Current and is mainly used for the prefabrication of parts and why it is used a lot in environments such as architecture or industrial design.

How does this technology work?

The three-dimensional printing process is, fundamentally, to create a prototype layer by layer and from bottom to top. For this, the machine deposits a layer of plastic powder, compacts the area indicated by the computer and repeats the process by placing one layer over another until the piece is completed.

The most famous three-dimensional printers what they do is take a .CAD file in .STL, which is a monochrome version, or a .VRML, which is a color version. The two are performed with the process explained above, in which they are compacted layer by layer.

There are two types of 3D printers: ink and laser. The former use an ink that functions as a binder and compacts the powder and allows printing in different colors. While the second thing they do is transfer energy to the dust that becomes polymerized (hard) and then is immersed in a liquid so that the harder areas will solidify.

Still the technology in three dimensions is something very precarious and does not work of a very fast way. That is why inclusion in homes is a bit far, although it is clear that little by little the different companies will begin to worry more in order to be the first to distribute this new technology that is being given more attention.

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Main applications of 3D printing

Human body parts and prostheses:

Implants for the disabled can be made such as legs, arms, hands, pieces of bone and even covers for face in case of deep wounds.

In addition, parts of the human body can be printed to the exact size a patient needs, these parts of the human body are made from a material compatible with organic tissue and can be used to replace organs that need a transplant.

The characteristics of this sector make 3D printing a valuable alternative for manufacturers that dramatically reduce production costs by making products more accessible to consumers with properties similar to traditional prostheses, although there are some limitations in Relation to the use of materials and production capacity.

Implants and prosthetics in 3D are becoming more common, in addition is being experimented in the implementation of this technology in biotechnology.

This tool will be very useful for surgeons in the field of medicine.

Automotive

Although 3D printing is still in the initial phase in this field is beginning to be used in the creation of prototypes and for the manufacture of functional parts such as engines, estimates suggest that development in this sector will gradually increase.

Domestic sector

The 3D printing industry has put the eye in this sector with quite encouraging results knowing the great potential of the amateur market, as a result of which they are manufacturing smaller machines at cheaper prices.

Industrial sector

3D printing is beginning to be used increasingly in the industry, both small and large companies for the manufacture of all types of products and components, greatly reducing production costs.

Toys:

It is already possible to create children’s taste toys, ranging from small figures of a simple body to more complex and large structures formed by several smaller impressions.

Clothing:

Innovation in the field of fashion has much to do with the growing demand for increasingly personalized clothing, using 3D printing will be able to create models of clothing of all kinds tailor made for each person as dresses, T-shirts and even underwear.

Food:

You can model desserts and sweets formed with a 3D printer, achieving artistic designs impossible to make by hand.

The most curious case of food printing, is the impression of meat (vitro-meat call it) by stem cells and animal tissue engineering. The process today is so complicated and expensive, that making a hamburger using this system costs more than 250,000 euros.

This is undoubtedly one of the most innovative and fascinating applications, the first corporation that experimented with this possibility was NASA, there are now some companies that make food products using powders containing proteins, carbohydrates and other nutrients cartridges that can maintain their properties for up to 30 years.

Weapons:

This may pose a threat to public security in the short term as public institutions will be unable to control the arms market.

Construction:

There is talk of the possibility of using giant 3D printers to build houses through a mixture of cement with industrial waste like glass and a special hardening agent in just 24 hours. This is done by printing prefabricated pieces that later allow to assemble the house in a very short time reducing also by 50% the waste generated.

A basic model of 3D printers can cost about 3000 USD so it opens up a huge range of business possibilities, even more so when the price of this technology does not stop falling, but does anyone imagine that impact of this technology on The employment rate at the global level ?

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