Ever since the computer was invented, technology has advanced so fast that hundreds of new technologies are being invented every year. It has only been a few decades since the invention of the computer and yet we already have antigravity, nanotechnology, scalar devices and quantum computers. In fact, many of these technologies have already been used by secretive government agencies for at least a decade before they were introduced to the public.
What is a 3D printer?
A 3D printer works similar to a traditional printer except that it uses 3D modeling technology to build a three dimensional object using specialized 3D printing (additive manufacturing) materials. Three dimensional printers are computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) devices that harness a technology called additive manufacturing. This technology builds physical three dimensional objects from scratch using a layer by layer method which produces less waste. This feature is one of the reasons why additive manufacturing is more popular than subtractive manufacturing in 3D printing applications.
The first generation of three dimensional printers were big and very expensive, which was why they were mostly used by big companies. Nowadays, the cost of 3D printers has dropped significantly and they are small enough to use in small businesses and homes.
Types of 3D printing materials
The most common types of additive manufacturing materials are plastic and polymer. However, metal (e.g., steel, aluminum, titanium) is starting to become popular as a 3D printing material for certain additive manufacturing applications. The automotive and aerospace industry will benefit a lot from using metal as a 3D printing material for their computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) devices. Besides traditional metals, gold and silver are also being used in 3D printing machines to create jewelry. Another three dimensional material used in CAM devices is ceramic.
As 3D technology improves and matures, more 3D materials will income available, including but not limited to composites, nanomaterials, organic tissue and food.
3D printing technology and the medical industry
The medical industry has been interested in 3D printing technology since it was invented. Additive manufacturing technology can be used to make medical devices and other medical products at a cheap price, reducing the cost of health care. Furthermore, whenever hospitals and health clinics run out of certain medical equipment and tool, they can just “print” them using three dimensional printers.
Besides printing medical tools and equipments, 3D printers can create artificial models of body parts to replace lost limbs or to use them for educational purposes. They can also be used to help treat health conditions and disease and fix damaged teeth. With the right technologies, three dimensional printers may one day be able to “print” real organs and tissues to replace damaged body parts.
Best 3D printers
Here is a list of some of the best 3D printers:
- Makerbot: Great for business applications
- Printrbot: Popular for art applications
- Foodini: Useful for printing food
- XYZ Printing: Great for people on a tight budget
How much does a 3D printer cost?
A 3D printer can cost you anywhere from a few hundred dollars to over $10,000. Makerbot is one of the popular 3D printing companies that sells affordable 3D printers for businesses and homes. Their three dimensional printers can cost anywhere from $900 to over $6,000. As 3D printers become more popular and widely used, the price should drop significantly.
The future of 3D printers
Three dimensional printers still have a lot of evolving to do and therefore they will be met with many challenges and obstacles. Plus, some of the materials used for three dimensional printing applications are harmful to human health and the environment. As more improvements are made to these materials, they should become less harmful.
Once 3D printers become very affordable and are widely used, they will replace a lot of products, because people can just print a product instead of going to the store to buy it. For example, whenever you need cooking utensils, you can use a three dimensional printer to print them instead of wasting time to drive to the store. Because of their capabilities, 3D printers will play a big role in our personal and business life.
Here is a video that shows how bioprinting is used to create real organs.
3D Printing: Make Anything You Want
This following video explores how 3D printers can be used to print tools and other material objects.
Amazing 3D Printer