You've likely heard some buzz about 3D printing, a new form of technology that's anticipated to have a major influence on our world. These printers are not just putting ink to paper; instead, they are building an object by layering material, like plastic, and then fine-tuning the design with lasers. The result is a three-dimensional, fully functional object! Read on to find more facts about 3D printers.
1) Add and subtract. 3D printers are classified as additive manufacturing because, quite simply, successive layers of material create the finished product. Conversely, manufacturing techniques such as sawing and milling are known as subtractive manufacturing.
2) The possibilities are endless. From mugs, models, and jewelry to machine parts and toys, many things can be created through 3D printing. In fact, the health care industry has already embraced this technology to create replacement jawbones and hips. Resin, metal, and plaster represent some of the materials used in 3D printing.
3) Pros and cons. 3D printing begins to raise the question of intellectual property. Since you can print whatever you want, what is stopping someone from recreating something that's already on the market? In the future, if printers are made more widely available, this might become an issue. A less pressing drawback of 3D printing is that it takes time: Even small items can take up to two hours to print!