I moderated a Radio Show on 3D printing the other day, and it gave me a pretty good education on the basics of this technology.
It's funny how many misconceptions there are about 3D printing and additive manufacturing. The first misconception is the difference between 3D printing and additive manufacturing. While there are some subtle differences, most people use them interchangeably, and that's OK.
The second misconception is the cost of the technology. While you still aren't likely to have one of these printers located in your family den, the technology is definitely available to small and midsized businesses.
The third misconception is in the quality of the output. There are numerous examples where the output of the 3D printer ends up being the final product. Most people think that these systems are just for prototypes, but depending on the application, that may end up being your final part, especially if your run is very small.
Bottom line -- I learned a lot about this technology that's clearly here for the long haul.
I agree, Cabe. The time involved will always be a barrier to companies that need to manufacture in high volume. Time is much more critical for an automotive supplier, for example, than for a manufacturer of giant aircraft.
@BobFunny thing is one of the commercially available printers is from Makerbot called the Replicator. Their newest model is for the general public home use with little technical skill required and is the Replicator 2.
Thanks Richard for such an informative post i really used to consider that additive manufacturing and 3D Printing was one of the same thing .However 3d printing is creating layer by layer three dimensional object .CAD file is installed in the system the object to be created is designed in the CAD file and then the computer is connected with the 3D Printer to creat layer by layer three dimensional object .However additive manufacturing is making three dimensional object from digital model.
Making repair parts onsite is probably in the not-too-distant future too. Envision a broken plastic part in your fridge or car. The service tech or mechanic downloads data from the manufacturer, and a repair part made on the spot. Better than the manufacturer carrying inventory and shipping from warehouses.
There is also an aftermarket for third party manufacturers, hobbyists, and DIY...how often have you had a small part break on your car or lawn care product that required purchase of an entire assembly? You will be able to make a new and probably better one yourself !
George, the reverse is actually true: 3D printing is only one of several additive manufacturing (AM) techniques. 3D printing applies to those AM techniques that use an inkjet-like print head to lay down material layers: http://www.designnews.com/document.asp?doc_id=236261 Wohlers Associates' website has some good background info on the subject: http://www.wohlersassociates.com Not just automotive body panels, but entire aircraft wing boxes have been made with some AM techniques: http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=258652
Actually, "self-replicating" printers have been around since 2009.
They don't actually completely make themselves, but these printers can be made of standard stock items like threaded rod, smooth rod, bearings, motors, and of course an electronics board.
The cheapest hobbyist printers are down to $300 now. These have a fairly small build volume and limited selection of materials, but they are a way for individuals to get their feet wet in this technology.
One commercial provider I've used is Shapeways. Their pricing is based on the cost of time and materials. Several others that I looked at were charging "what the market will bear" to the tune of 20X to 50X the Shapeways price. (I have no commercial interest or connection with Shapeways.)
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From home enthusiasts to workers on the manufacturing floor, everyone's imagination is captured by the potential of 3D printing. Prototyping, spare parts creation, art delivery, human organ creation, and even mass product production are all being targeted as current and potential uses for the technology.
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