The ‘Did You Know?’ of 3D Printing

3D printing is talked about a lot these days. People are creating everything from kidneys to cars, which we admit is a far cry from the usual stuff printers normally talk about. But when you have someone as inventive as Chris working with you, you get used to hearing things you don’t expect to hear.

Having said that, 3D printing is not something we currently offer. However, we’re always researching new technologies and we thought a little info on what this whole 3D printing malarkey is about would be interesting to read about over a cuppa.

What is 3D Printing?

As a basic description, 3D printing is a process that builds a 3D object from a digital file. The process involves making and laying down correctly-shaped layers and then building these layers up to a complete object. It’s an amazing process that can create very complex shapes using far less material than a traditional manufacturing method that might involve cutting stuff out.

How Does It Work?

Very simply, you start with a carefully designed 3D model. These can be designed from scratch, or, to make life really easy, you can download one from a 3D library. You then slice this model into hundreds/thousands of layers and feed this new file to the 3D printer. The clever 3D printer then takes things from there.

What is 3D Printing Used For?

For such a recent technology, it’s amazing what it can be used to create. Examples include:

  • For consumers – everything from spectacles, to shoes, to furniture
  • For manufacturing – think tools and replacement parts
  • For healthcare – open your mind to dental products, prosthetics, and medical aids
  • For design – imagine architectural scaled models
  • For science – contemplate the reconstructing of fossils, ancient artefacts, and forensics

Plus It’s Great for Prototyping and Short Runs

3D printing is now used in a wide variety of ways, but its early strength was its fantastic ability to create a prototype or proof-of-concept. Even at the start, it was rapid to deploy and flexible enough to be able to play around with different ideas. However, it also brought a welcome third benefit, which was that it wasn’t expensive to use… in the scheme of things.

So, bringing you up to the present, 3D printing is now also popular for short run creations where it would be expensive to create the necessary moulds or specialised tools otherwise. You could say that customised creations have never been easier!

Crazy Things You’d Never Believe Were Possible

You can already see how 3D printing has opened the world up to new possibilities. However, we still reckon you’ll be amazed to learn that the following is a list of REAL things that have already been created through the process:

  • Full sized buildings – the first family moved into one in 2018; it only took 2 days to print
  • Full sized cars – customised designs are going crazy
  • Stunning jewellery – designers are using all sorts of unusual materials
  • Medical implants – everything from hip replacements to hearing implants
  • Bio-printing – using living cells
  • Burgers – yes, ones you eat

So What Does the Future Hold?

Lots of opportunities, is what we’d say. Hands up, it’s unlikely we’ll ever be the kind of business where you come in and order a kidney. However, the technology is certainly very interesting, and the libraries of template models is growing day by day. Who knows… maybe your next suite of customer gifts for Christmas might just be something we will pull together for you. Watch this space… we’ll keep you posted!