What is 3D Printing And Why Should You Care?

Written by Chloe Harwood

There’s a lot of things that technology can do for your business.

If we’re talking in basic terms, look at your computer, right in front of you. What does the computer do for you? If you’re simply going to answer that ‘it allows you to browse the internet,’ you might not be looking at it deeply enough. The question that is.

What your computer does for is it allows you to research and complete your work, it allows you to relax with a movie, it can entertain and lecture you. You can use a computer to study, a computer can remind you of dates in your diary. There’s no end to what a computer can do for you; it just ends with your imagination.

So think of technology and how far it has come in the past few years. We are on the cusp of self-driving cars! Think of what that will do for a company like Uber. Technology can massively benefit companies in ways that were previously unimaginable. Drones can now deliver parcels. It’s developments like that, which are making the everyday tasks more efficient, and exciting, for businesses.

We should turn to a recent development now. 3D printing has been around for a few years, but now serious imaginations are getting behind the technology, things are really moving forward for 3D printers in business.

What is 3D printing though? The technical term for 3D printing is additive manufacturing. It’s the addition of layers through repetition to create a solid, three-dimensional object. Each layer will be a thin-cut horizontal cross section of the completed design.

The design needs to be created in CAD (computer aided design). You use a 3D modeling application, or even a 3D scanner to design your object, then the information is relayed to a 3D printer that ‘paints by numbers’ to create an replica of your design. Designing won’t have to be hard in the future though, as camera technology is getting to a stage where the image shot can be digitised and imported into a 3D printer to replicate objects in the picture. There’s still a lot of work involved in printing your object, though, as you’ll need to create the horizontal slices of the final product.

There’s an intense range of 3D printing methods and ideologies, so the entire market is going to be confusing for a newcomer. There are plenty of guides available on how to get started.

But what can a 3D printer do for you? Well – anything. A 3D printer, like a computer, is only going to be limited by your imagination. If you can dream it, you can build it. What are some of the objects 3D printers can make? Well, it’s a great way for startups to create rapid prototypes of concepts. Architectural firms can pass physical copies of designs onto clients. If your business relies on pitching concepts and designs, 3D printing could get your name on contracts.

Not only can 3D printing get your business work, it’s also an industrial solution. 3D printers can be solely manned by digital technology and if you load the blueprints and filament into the printers, it’s going to mass-produce for you and localize the industrial process of your business. That’s a huge money save for smaller companies.

What are 3D printed objects made of? It is mostly durable plastic filaments that make up the slices of each printed object, but metal and even chocolate have been used. 3D printing makes waste less of an issue as it only makes what is necessary. It’s not carving out of a chunk; it’s an addition based process – only adding what is needed!

The field of robotics is using 3D printing to do a lot (Here’s a must read article on that). Not only can you build a fully functioning robot from scratch, but you can also create drones. As stated before, the capabilities are endless. One quite amazing possibility stemming from the 3D printing revolution is that organs are now being printed and designed via the use of printable cells. This could end the wait for replacement organs and save countless lives.

So not only can 3D printing get you a job via well-designed concepts and prototypes, it can mass-produce your product. It’s a winning option and if it can provide solutions to the problems facing the robotics industry, it can certainly help you out!

About the author

Chloe Harwood