● Go to this page for 3D Printing Resources and brief paragraph descriptions of 3D printers and 3D printing.
Any tridimensional object can be sliced into several thin slices such that when they are put together again they make the original body. This is exactly what the 3D-printing technology does. Since everything that surrounds us is tridimensional, i.e., boats, toys, miniatures, statues, tools, etc., then almost everything that surrounds us can can also be duplicated with a 3D-printer. And of course, all models come-out in true tri-dimensions, so we need no 3D-glasses to view them!
3D printing is not used to print books, letters, memos, nor even reports. This new printing technology does not uses paper, nor any kind of pulp cardboard. It doesn't use ink cartridges. However, some 3d-printers use cartridges of colored powdered plastic to produce its output. The models "printed" this way come out of the printed in brilliant eye-catching colors.
Johannes Gutenberg (1395-1468) started a printing revolution when he invented mechanical movable type in Europe. However, 3D printing is not related in any way to the paper and book printing since it doesn't use paper.
But some similarity still exists: a book is made-up of flat paper sheets while 3D printings works by slicing a solid model somewhat like stacked thin sheets of paper. No matter the subject of a book, all of them are "printed" the same: by stacking paper leaves one above the other. 3D-printing works in a similar way: except that instead of being rectangular solid objects, 3D-printed objects can be almost any shape, and objects can be resized before printing. Using thin horizontal cross sections generated by a 3D computer model, 3D printers produce plastic, metal, ceramic, or composite parts, depositing layer upon layer.
The next revolution after Gutenberg's printing method came with the transition of hand-produced goods to machine-produced goods with the aid of new chemical and iron manufacturing processes with the aid of steam power.
With the Second Industrial revolution mankind saw the introduction of electricity and the invention of new chemical processes.
3D printers can range from the desktop personal 3D-printer, to complex industrial 3D printing machines. For many valid reasons, 3D printing is called the next industrial revolution.
How does it works? The technology of 3D printing is also called additive fabrication.
The following video shows what 3D metal printing is: using superfine steel metal powder and depositing exact amounts of powder as specified by the computer program inline with the 3D printer. The printhead moves back and forth in the printbed injecting the exact needed amount of material to make each metal slice. For each model slice the printhead starts again printing a new slice of the object; the full printing of an object can take several hours, depending on the height and volume of the model. In the case of metal printers, it may be required to place the finished model in an oven up to 24 hours to evaporate captured moisture and to harden the material. Later, the unused powder is removed either with vacuum or brushes, and reused for the next model.
3D printing is moving fast toward large scale objects like bicycles, motor parts, car body, boats, model airplanes, etc. Take for example, the Urbee 2; this small car is a 1,200 pounds 3D printed car determined to revolutionize the car industry and other manufacturing businesses. In their own words "Urbee is a two-passenger hybrid car designed to be incredibly fuel efficient, easy to repair, safe to drive, and inexpensive to own".