What Can 3D Printing Really Do?

10. October 2013 16:43 by Calvin Yu in   //  Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,   //   Comments (0)

3D printing has been featured on virtually even major blog and news organization. Even consumer giant Amazon now offers a 3D printing landing page as they are attempting to bring 3D printers into consumer households. At 247inktoner, we've even featured how this technology impacts medical fields. But what other innovative things can 3D printing do? Why do these innovations matter? And what limitations, if any, are there to this technology? More...

Who Does That Belong To?: Copyright Concerns in 3-D Printing

3-D printing is everywhere these days. Like our recent blog post on the medical applications of 3-D printing points out, new developments in printing have brought us a long way from the inkjet printer. With any new technology, however, comes a slew of unique concerns over what that technology can do. One of the biggest and most recent of these developments is related to copyright laws. More...

3D Printing and Medical Applications

3D printing is the most talked about new development in printing technology at the moment, particularly with Amazon's recent opening of a dedicated 3D printing page on their website. While the discussion is focused on the consumer aspect of this technology, we wanted to focus on the more high tech applications, including how these technological developments show promise for the medical field. Though 3D printing is still relatively expensive, rapidly decreasing costs and the development of new types of materials used in printing prosthetics make this technology viable for many larger research-focused hospitals. With the future looking bright for medical applications of 3D printing, there is great hope that medical costs and recovery times can be reduced. More...

Quest For the Beginner's 3D Printer

3d printerIf you've been keeping up to date on the news, you've probably heard of 3D printing. Chances are also likely that you may be unsure exactly what the technology does! Though 3D printing is not a new technology, for the first time in its history, it has received attention for producing everything from artificial skulls to Star Wars figurines.

Companies have finally released prototypes of smaller, more cost efficient 3D printers designed for everyday customer use, with MakerBot displaying their model during this year's South by Southwest Festival, one of the country's largest film, music, and technology festivals.

How does 3D printing work?

So how exactly does 3D printing work? A 3D printer is essentially a more complex version of your standard desktop printer, often with some sort of encasing or protective covering that enables a 3D object to be produced. Though inks are used to cover objects, 3D printers work by extracting liquids, powders or metals with incredible precision to create 0.05-0.1 millimeter thick sheets of material that form the basis for whatever object you are creating. These objects are modeled from visual blueprints that are created using imaging software. This image file varies depending on the type of object you are producing, but whatever the file is, the printer is able to interpret the file to make sure the objects have both the correct shape and correct dimensions.

For those without a background in graphic or industrial design, or a lot of money and space, 3D printing is impractical. Not only does creating 3D image blueprints require extensive knowledge, but many machines are large and typically cost well over $1000. However, as mentioned above, companies are are increasingly looking to downsize their models and streamline the process to let even those without the fundamentals of graphic design have fun.

Scan and print technology from MakerBot

MakerBot, a Brooklyn-based global leader in 3D printing since 2009, is among the first of these companies to invest in the beginner market. Their technology, dubbed the Digitizer Desktop 3D scanner, will enable you to scan objects up to 8 inches tall and 8 inches wide using lasers and a webcam. Once the image is scanned, a computer program automatically reads the data, producing the 3D image that the printer can then produce the object with. As a Digital Trends article on the launch comments, "It’s fantastic for recreating a broken link on your bracelet or making a replica of your favorite cup." Though there are no details yet on price or a release date, MakerBot has a sign up sheet so that users can be notified when these details are finalized.

When will 3D printing reach the masses?

Though we are many years away from 3D printing being accessible in much the same way highly quality photo printing used to be out of reach for most households, companies are taking the lead to ensure more people have access to this technology. Please let us know your thoughts on 3D printing. Do you think it's a waste of time or a tool you could see yourself using one day?

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