Although the idea of 3D printing is not new, the concept is quickly catching fire. In the 1980s, Chuck Hull invented stereolithography, which is just a fancy way of saying “solid imagery.” Since then, it’s taken off slowly, but is starting to really pick up speed this year. Still unsure what 3D printing is? Well, it’s time to learn!
3D printing, according to Mashable.com, is, “the process of making three-dimensional solid objects from digital designs.” 3D printing has the capability to construct scale models, gifts, clothing, prosthetics, hearing aids, and even food, to name just a few of the possibilities.
The start of the process is with an idea or concept that is dreamt up. From there, computer aided design (CAD) divides the idea in a way that is easily digested by the computer. The computer then constructs the 3D object by adding material in very thin layers, taking anywhere from hours to days depending on the object. The materials that are compatible so far are paper, plastics, rubbers, metals, and wood.
3D printing is impacting many industries, as it should with a $1.7 billion market, one that is expected to expand to $3.7 billion by 2015.