3D printing Here and Now – What is it? | SuppliesOutlet

In Case You Have Not Heard, 3D Printing is Here

3D printing, just that phrase itself is something that begs for questioning. What is 3D printing? How is a 3D printer different from a laser printer or an inkjet? With new technology comes questions but, is this a new technology? Let’s take a look at the past, present, and future of 3D printing.

The Unrecognized Past of 3D Printing

Laser Printers and inkjet printers print onto paper, there is no depth. The image exists within a two-dimensional world known as the X and Y axis. Where 3D printers differ from Laser printers and inkjet is the inclusion of the Z axis as well. Imagine being able to create almost any object you wanted. For example you’re having a dinner party for 8. There is yourself and 7 others. You have eight plates, if one broke you’d have to go buy a whole new set of plates. Not only is that not economically sound, but it’s time consuming. What if i could make a new plate instead? These are thoughts that Chuck Hull had before he invented stereolithography (otherwise know as solid imaging, or 3D printing). Creating what would be a very important piece of technology, he also founded 3D systems in 1986. This leads people to wonder, why is it that we are just now starting to take notice and hear of 3D printing? The thing is that when the stereolithography was created there was no way for the computer to communicate with the machine. In the early infancy of the computer age This technology was far ahead of it’s time. Not having a way that the printer and computer could both “understand” one another 3D Systems created the .stl file format. This allowed the two to communicate. Not being readily available and not having practical uses the technology essentially sits on the back burner in the public’s eyes and is only commercialized.

3D Printing Here and Now

Our next stop in the time scape of the 3D printer take us to now, preset time. Well more so the late 2000’s/ early 2010’s. With Computer Aided Design and a more streamlined and accessibly digital world, the 3D printer resurfaced. Modifications were made and the product now referred to as Additive imaging takes a gigantic step forward. Readily available to the consumer market, and reduced costs for the commercial market, have brought 3D printing to life. Well how does one get a concept to become reality? The 3D printing process starts with your design. There are a multitude of program that offer Computer aided design or animation modeling. If graphic design is not your forte, you can purchase or download pre made designs. After you’ve crafted, or imported a design the software will break it down into cross sections. Cross sections tell the printer how to build the design from the bottom up layer by layer. From here, this is where the fun begins. 3D printing is special because it allows for multiple substances to be used to print, giving you the ability to create objects made of plastic, rubber, paper, and metal; yes metal. 3D printing varies in how the process is done. Depending on the printer manufacturer some printers squeeze, spray, or drip the substance into layers where a glue, pressure and heat are also provided. The 3D printing process can take an extremely long amount of time depending on the amount of layers and also the thickness each layer is given. Measured in microns(thousands of a millimeter) each layer is deposited and then the print head starts the next layer. This process can be extremely time consuming.

3D Printing: From Here On

Where do we go from here? How can we advance what seems already almost, too advanced. Looking into the bright future there is hope that 3D printing is going to revolutionize many expertise’s. Within the last year alone we’ve seen many incredible break throughs with the technology that cannot be put aside. For example, 3D printing was used to craft a prosthetic beak for an already endangered Bald Eagle. There have been breakthroughs with creating food using a 3D printer. Creating Meat using the process has taken great leaps forward. NASA has been testing many printable items. Just imagine the ability for an astronaut to print food, and any new materials he or she needed while on space voyages. One thing is clear, as the industry shifts SuppliesOutlet will continue to provide our customers with the best products for the market whichever direction it is heading. Laser printers, Inkjet Printers and possibly 3D printers we’ll have you covered for your printing needs.



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