Modern technology has been transforming how businesses work for years. One such innovation that spans multiple industries is 3D printing. Forecasts from Acumen Research and Consulting say that the 3D printing market will rise to become a $ 1 billion industry by the year 2026.
How 3D Printing Works
3D printing, also called additive manufacturing, uses a layering method to create objects, usually from molten plastic. 3D printers work like an inkjet printer would — except that it builds a three-dimensional model by printing out one layer at a time from the bottom going upwards.
The first step is designing a model through computer-aided design (CAD) software. This 3D modeling software allows for detailed and precise creations from modeling to printing.
Next is to use a slicing software, which scans each layer of the CAD model to decide how every part should be printed. Once it has broken down the model into thin layers, the slicer then sends this information to the printer, where it comes to life.
3D printing and its rapid improvements and applications have revolutionized a great variety of industries through the years. There are several that have had great use of its many applications today.
3D printers bring concepts and projects to life in the classroom setting. The variety of products educators can enrich learning through visual aids. An example of this is in mathematics, where teachers can use math modeling to show the real-life applications of mathematical concepts.
Students in design, engineering, and architecture can also simulate their ideas through printed models. 3D printing simplifies the process of making prototypes or scale models needed for school projects.
Large-scale 3D printing systems are also widely used in construction. Its uses can range from specific components to whole buildings. There are also numerous advantages to using 3D printing in construction, from reducing labor costs to promoting greener practices by producing less waste.
Further advancements in 3D could build cheaper housing for needier communities in the future. They can also lead to more sustainable structures that can withstand different climates.
The fields of art and fashion are finding new ways of expression with the help of 3D printing technology. Many of its applications in the fashion industry are in the creation of accessories and statement pieces, as the method of creating lends itself to complex designs.
Clothing is usually noted as one of the biggest contributors to environmental waste. Companies such as Son of a Tailor responded by using 3D printing in the production of their zero-waste pullovers. This process, if adapted more widely by retailers, could significantly reduce fabric waste.
The entertainment industry spans a wide variety of fields. This makes it a perfect playground for 3D printing applications. 3D models can be used to make figures and props for television or film sets, and can even be used to create solutions for shootings.
One popular example of this is U2’s 360 Tour, in which Bono used a custom microphone that was wrapped in a round LED fixture. This frame was made through 3D printing and became a hot topic among music fans.
The healthcare sector is one of the largest markets of 3D printing. 3D printing in medicine alone was estimated to be worth $1.25 billion in 2019.
In orthopedics, professionals have the option to create implants tailor-fit to a patient’s needs, which last longer and perform better. Hospitals are also benefiting from the ability to create anatomical models based on specific patients. Medical imaging produced in this way eases evaluations and surgical operations.
Trips to the dental practice have also been made simpler and quicker. Creating a ceramic model of one’s teeth used to take around eight hours of work. Thanks to 3D scanning and printing, all it takes is some software and a printer to get the job done in under two hours.
3D Printing in COVID-19 Times
COVID-19 caught the world unprepared. The pandemic necessitated quick responses, but at the same time depleted resources at a rapid pace. 3D printing has been helping address these increasing concerns.
Firstly the crisis caused by COVID-19 brought about shortages in medical equipment. 3D printing technology enabled the swift production of personal protective equipment, such as face masks, face shields, and respirators. Some of these devices were also made to be reusable, which reduces the production of medical waste.
3D printing has helped mitigate the spread of COVID-19 through the quick creation of isolation wards for quarantine purposes. Lifesize medical models have also been made to help health professionals in their training for swabbing procedures.
Thanks to the quick adoption of 3D printing to various sectors and its myriad uses, businesses are able to adjust and bounce back from the unpredictability of the virus. Wider use and further innovations in 3D printing stirs hope that there still remain many creative ways to rise from these troubling times.