Ever thought of having a 3D prototype of Monalisa sitting in your living room shelf, beaming her unconstruable smile at you. Well then the good news is that, the day is not far off when your printer can print images three dimensionally. All you would need is a computer with 3D software similar to CAD or a 3D digital scanner to make a digital model to get 3D printing output. Can’t wait to get started!! This is the upcoming technology in printing technology in which objects are built using very thin additive layers.
Do this get you interested enough to get to know a little more about this technology? Let us get into some of the basics of the 3D printing technology. Once the 3D digital model (created using the software) is good to go, it is transformed into a file format that can be deciphered by a 3D printer. This the model now needs to be “sliced “, slicing is the method of converting the digital model into multiple layers. Once it is sliced, the file is now ready to be sent for printing to the printer. The output is the actual working 3D model of an object.
Let’s delve little deeper into the technological aspects of 3D printing. This article discusses the three main technologies that are currently in use today. However, this does not confine 3D printing technologies to methods discussed in this article alone. The final output can be derived using a different range technologies or processes or raw materials.
Going back into history, Charles Hull created the earliest 3D printer which was invented way back in 1986 and it implemented a technique called “Stereolithography”. This technique makes use of photo-reactive resin that is toughened using UV laser light source to construct the object’s one layer at a time.
Soon research paved way for two more technologies associated to 3D printing. The second being the “Selective Laser Sintering” more commonly known as the SLS technology. This employs potent laser to fuse powdered plastic, metal, ceramic or glass that can be molded into preferred three dimensional form. This method was devised by Dr. Carl Deckard in the mid 1980’s. One of the main benefits of this technology is that the remaining powder can be used for the next print and also does not need any support structure.
The third method called the fused deposition modeling (FDM) technology which was invented by Scott Crump. This technology winds down a plastic filament or metal wire from a coil and supplies material to an extrusion nozzle that can turned on or off.
Well this pretty much covers the technology involved in 3D printing. However, this is still a grey area with a lot of scope for research to improve the materials that can be used for output objects. The study also targets using materials that are completely or partially degradable as viable option.
Before we conclude, let’s briefly discuss about the price we might need to pay for this kind of printing? The high definition 3D printing is still a luxury and is pretty much caters to industrial applications alone. Some of the industries that make use of this technology are the aerospace, automotive, medical and fine jewelry sectors. However, the race is on to develop more economical systems that can accommodate smaller printing needs at an office or home. We sure hope the research makes a head way soon enough to make this reality. Well, the thought of the futuristic possibilities for 3D printing definitely makes me smile like Monalisa!