5 Things Everyone Should Know About 3D Printing
With 3D printing being so prominent across so many industries today, it can be challenging to remember how foreign this concept sounded just a handful of years ago! Today, 3D printing is everywhere and is achieving some really remarkable goals.
In this article, learn five important facts that everyone should know about 3D printing.
Fact 1: 3D printing technology actually got its start back in the 1980’s.
While 3D printing definitely didn’t become a hot topic in casual conversation until recently, the fact is that 3D printing has been in use in some capacity since the 1980’s, according to 3D Insider.
However, as with so many types of new technology (including the computer and the portable phone), the first 3D printers were unaffordable for most businesses and individuals. In 2006, 3D printer technology got a lift when newer compact and economical printers finally became available.
Fact 2: 3D printing is having a huge impact in the healthcare industry.
The Motley Fool reports that 3D printing is becoming particularly important and impactful in the healthcare industry in a number of different forms.
The Journal of Nature Biotechnology reports that additive manufacturing (aka 3D printing) has successfully reproduced human tissues and implanted them into animals, where they have reportedly survived for two months of functioning.
This may well pave the way for creation of customized implant materials (bone, cartilage, tissue) for human patients in the near future.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also approved the first 3D printed medication in 2015. The drug is called Spritam and is used to treat patients who have epilepsy.
Fact 3: 3D printers aren’t really printers, per se.
While using the term “printer” conveys the general concept of what happens when a 3D printer fires up to do its thing, these devices aren’t really printing in the truest sense of the word.
As Discover Magazine tells it, what is taking place with 3D printing is more like painting a wall, where layers upon layers are “sprayed” over one another to create complex multi-dimensional objects.
Some objects that can now be 3D printed with home model 3D printers include burritos and cookies. Some objects that have been printed with commercial-grade 3D printers include an exact skeletal replica of King Richard III and the Aston Martin car used in the James Bond movie “Skyfall.”
Fact 4: There is now such a thing as a 3D printed house – and there is a family living in it.
When President Obama stated that 3D printing may revolutionize pretty much everything that is made today, he wasn’t wrong. The BBC recently reported that the first 3D printed home was created in France and a family is living in it.
But even more exciting that this – Fast Company shares that inexpensive, quick-to-assemble 3D printed homes may now be a potential solution for individuals and families displaced by natural disasters as well as those struggling through chronic poverty.
This innovation comes courtesy of a nonprofit called New Story that focuses its efforts on creating low-cost housing for high risk populations.
Fact 5: As if 3D printing isn’t amazing enough, 4D printing is also in development.
According to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), 4D additive manufacturing is the next wave of technology that builds on 3D printing by adding the variable element of time.
With 4D printing, a 3D printed structure can change when exposed to different parameters including light, humidity and temperature, among others, are introduced. This is being called “fourth dimension” printing.
To date, 4D printing has been limited by the cost and time complexities of programming along with materials limitations. However, a new printer is now in development that can combine the functionality of 3D printing with the use of more than one 4D material component.
Clearly the 3D printing story is still just beginning to unfold, even as 4D printing is already in development as well! While this technology still has many bugs to be worked out, the principle is sound and people around the world are already beginning to benefit from new, innovative advances created through 3D printing.