3D printer is an instrument that is used in the creation of a physical object on the basis of a virtual 3D model. It is a perfect decision for creating models of design, architectural concepts as well as products that are required in the fields of education, arts, medicine, cartography, etc. 3D system creates physical prototypes by curing layers of powder using a liquid binder (O’Neill & Williams, 2013). The 3D system is extremely versatile and fast, allows obtaining prototypes of complex geometry in a variety of applications and of different materials that are used by leading manufacturers. 3D printers are designed with the use of a 3D system. They work with incredible speed and at a very low cost.
3D prototyping technology is considered to be a very promising technology. It allows reducing the time and monetary costs of volumetric models, production of which is not always possible manually. 3D printing contributes to the improvement of people’s lives through its use in medical, architectural and educational spheres, the development of fashion and jewelry industries, reducing manufacturing costs, and sustaining the environment.
History of 3D Printing
The first device for creation of 3D prototyping was an American SLA-installation, which was developed and patented by Charles Hull in 1986 (Gross, Erkal, Lockwood, Chen, & Spence, 2014, p. 3240). It used stereolithography. Certainly, this was not the first 3D printer in the modern sense, but it has determined the work of 3D printer: building up objects in layers. Hull immediately created a company 3D Systems, which produced the first volume printing device that was called Stereolithography Apparatus. The first model of this machine, which had a wide popularity, was SLA-250 (Gross et al., 2014, p. 3240).
In 1990, a new method for producing volume printed stamps (method of fusing) was used. It was developed by Scott Crump (the founder of Stratasys Company) and his wife, who continued the development of 3D printing (Gross et al., 2014, p. 3243). After that, the concepts of 3D laser printer and 3D jet printer have been actively used.
The modern historical stage of development of 3D printing started in 1993 with the creation of Solidscape Company. It produced inkjet printers, which preceded three-dimensional ones. In 1995, two MIT professors modified an inkjet printer (Gross et al., 2014, p. 3240). It created an image not on the paper, but in special volumetric containers. At the same time, the notion of 3D printing and 3D printer appeared. This technique has been patented and is now used in Z Corporation and ExOne Z Corporation, which still produce 3D printers using this technology (Gross et al., 2014, p. 3240).
History of the creation of 3D printers continued by the advent of technology called PolyJet, which was based on the use of photopolymer liquid plastic. Over time, the development of the industry of 3D printing speeded up. There were new manufacturers of 3D printers that contributed to the development of 3D printing. New materials and principles began to be used. Sizes and prices of devices decreased. Today, a 3D printer takes up very little space. Certainly, it depends on its purpose. At the beginning of its development, the price of the printer was available only to large companies. Currently, anyone can purchase a 3D printer. However, the history of 3D printer is not finished yet and the most interesting is ahead.
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Usage of 3D Printing
3D printing has firmly embedded in humans’ lives, turning from a narrowcasting and expensive service into an indispensable thing for professionals in different fields. Availability of 3D printing enables bold experiments in architecture, construction, small-scale production, medicine, education, jewelry, printing, production of advertising and souvenirs.
There are the following areas of use of 3D printing:
- Creativity (sculpture, architecture, landscapes, sound and light laser installation);
- Industrial production (optimization of the cost of energy, development of new technologies, shipbuilding, aerospace industry, robotics, precision-made);
- Living organisms and biotechnical system (reproduction of biological objects, replication, virtualization, tomography, laser, radar scan of the three-dimensional vision of the object).
- Work in these areas is greatly simplified due to the use of 3D printers. Therefore, the development of 3D tangible will have a great impact on all of them.
Advantages of Using 3D Printing
3D printing is widely used in the manufacture of architectural models of buildings, entire neighborhoods, cottage settlements with the entire infrastructure: roads, trees, street lighting. Professional 3D printers are gradually winning their position in the field of small-scale production. This printing technology is most frequently used for the manufacture of exclusive products, such as art objects, figures of characters for the participants of the online role-playing games, prototypes and conceptual models of future consumer goods or their structural parts. Such models are used for experimental as well as for new products presentations. The use of 3D printers for functional testing is one of the modern methods of innovation.
The use of 3D printers in medicine allows saving lives. These printers can recreate an exact copy of a human skeleton for developing techniques to ensure a successful transaction. 3D printers are increasingly used in dentistry and prosthodontics, as three-dimensional printing allows getting dentures and crowns much faster than classical production technology. Medical three-dimensional models may be made from a variety of materials, including living organic cells. The choice of materials for medical prototyping depends on the goals, challenges and problems that are related to the health of the patient. In particular, surgeons in Louisville used a 3D printed model of a heart in order to study the heart defect of a 14-month-old boy. This allowed them to save child’s life (Hruska, 2014, p. 14).
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The use of 3D printing technology in education provides visual aids that are ideal for classrooms of all educational institutions ranging from kindergarten to universities. Modern 3D printers are ideal for classrooms because they have high reliability, do not produce emissions during the printing of unhealthy products, impose specific requirements for disposal, include cutting and shaving materials, and have no lasers. It is assumed that the equipment of educational institutions with special 3D printers will contribute to the improvement of the efficiency of the educational process and rapid assimilation of knowledge of pupils and students. Moorefield-Lang (2014) emphasized that 3D printers play a significant role in students’ researches and education “by creating models of thoughts and ideas as well as supporting invention” (p. 70).
3D printing technology gradually masters the clothing industry, especially the production of models for high fashion (Hoskins & Hoskins, 2014). 3D printing technology allows using few different materials for the manufacture of one piece of clothing. This approach solves the problem that is related to the strength and elasticity of manufactured items. Clothes that are made with the use of 3D printer can be seen only at fashion shows. However, there are no doubts that the implementation of such products in mass production is only a matter of time. In particular, printed three-dimensional shoes flaunt on catwalks around the world. A significant advantage of such shoes is the accurate account of the individual characteristics of its owner, including the size and shape of the foot. The appearance of 3D shoes is significantly different from the traditional, so they will be in demand among creative young people, who want to emphasize their individuality.
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It is known that creating wax prototypes is the most time-consuming procedure in the manufacture of jewelry. With the advent of 3D printers, jewelers have an opportunity to rapidly grow jewelry wax models that are previously developed by a special program.
Three-dimensional printers allow making test dummies packaging and bottles of the original form. Prototypes can be colored, with the inclusion of all elements of design, including labels, bar codes, and logos. Finished packing model can be demonstrated to the customer before launching it into mass production. The advantages of 3D prototypes are obvious: the customer can hold the package in hand, evaluate its texture, color, scheme and some other characteristics.
One of the most significant advantages of 3D printing is its environmental benefit. It can contribute to preserving natural resources and reducing CO2 emissions. 3D printing consumes only materials that are needed for the end-product. This leads “to a reduction in material consumption” (Travers, 2015, p. 45).
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3D modeling is an essential step in the development of complex engineering or architectural forms. In the recent past, there was originally designed volumetric model in electronic form, which was subsequently embodied in a real solid copy. This process required significant monetary and time costs. Currently, the process of creating 3D physical copy of a virtual model is simplified thanks to rapid prototyping devices, also known as 3D printers. Recently, 3D printing has become interesting for a large number of commercial organizations and consumers. Currently, 3D printing technology is widely used in various industries: from medicine to space devices.
Prototyping of products at the design stage allows reducing development time and technical testing of new products. Possibly, in the near future, 3D printers will become an inherent part of people’s everyday life, like a refrigerator, microwave or TV. Therefore, the further development of 3D printing will contribute to improving human’s life lives through medical use, architectural models producing, improving the efficiency of the educational process and rapid assimilation of knowledge, contributing to the development of fashion and jewelry industries, reducing manufacturing costs, and preserving environment.
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