Technologies have made our lives better in many ways, opened up new roads and potentials, but usually it takes time and sometimes even decades before the truly disruptive nature of the technology becomes apparent. Technology has affected current human history probably more than any other field. Think of a light bulb, steam engine or more latterly cars and aeroplanes not to mention the rise and rise of the World Wide Web.
It is widely believed that 3D printing or additive manufacturing (AM) has the vast possible to become one of these technologies. 3D printing has now been enclosed across many television channels in mainstream newspapers and across online resources. What really is this 3D printing that some have claimed will put an end to traditional manufacturing as we know it and have revolutionise design and impose geopolitical, economic, social, demographic, environmental and security implications to our everyday lives. The most basic distinctive principle behind 3D printing is that it is an additive manufacturing process. And this is definitely most important because 3D printing is a radically different manufacturing method based on advanced technology that shapes up parts.
This is essentially changed from any other existing traditional manufacturing techniques. However the world of manufacturing has different and automated processes such as machining, casting, forming and moulding are all relatively new and complex processes that require machines, computers and robot technology. 3D printing is an empowering technology that inspires and energies innovation with extraordinary design freedom while being a tool-less process that reduces excessive costs and lead times. Components can be planned exactly with specifications to avoid assembly requirements with intricate geometry and complex features created at no extra cost. 3D printing is also developing as an energy-efficient technology that can provide environmental competences in terms of both the manufacturing process itself utilising up to 90% of standard materials and throughout the products operating life through lighter and stronger design.
In recent years 3D printing has gone beyond being an industrial prototyping and manufacturing process as the technology has become more available to small companies and even individuals. 3D Printing is a process for building a physical object from a three-dimensional digital model typically by laying down many successive thin layers of a material. It brings a digital object i.e. CAD representation into its physical form by adding layer by layer of materials. There are several different techniques to 3D Print an object. 3D Printing brings two fundamental innovations: the manipulation of objects in their digital format and the manufacturing of new shapes by addition of material.