3D Printing – The Facts and Basics behind 3D Printing Technology
A couple of decades ago, we all dreamed of a technological advancement that would allow us to print something. The printer was then conceived and made available for both residential and commercial uses. As technology continued to advance, so did our desire for something grander. We wanted to print something with 3-dimensional, or rather, something more than what we can put on a piece of paper. Instead of printing an apple on a piece of paper, we all wanted to print the entire apple, in both shape and size. However, this kind of technology was probably impossible, or so we thought.
A little history
As early as 1984, Charles Hull already had a vision for a 3D printer. He completed the technology that would allow for the printing of physical 3D objects from digital data. 2 years later, he was able to obtain a patent through his technique, which he called Stereolithography. In the same year, Charles Hull founded 3D Systems and created the first commercial 3D printing machine, but was referred to as the Stereolithography Apparatus. In 1988, 3D systems created the SLA-250, the first version made available to the general public.
Some interesting facts behind the technology
The 3D printer has now become a reality and people are becoming addicted to it. Some would even refer to the process as additive manufacturing. But what makes this technology so exciting? Why do people consider it “as important as the Internet”?
1.) For starters, the printer is able to print cars. Voxeljet, a 3D printing company, was commissioned to print 3D 1:3 scale models of the Aston Martin DB5 for the recent Bond flick, Skyfall. These models were made to be destroyed in the movie, but one survived and was later sold by Christie’s for close to £100,000.
2.) The medical equipment and prosthetics industry embraces 3D printing technology with open arms. Biomedic specialists in Belgium were able to implant a 3D-titanium plated jawbone into an 83 yr. old woman. What’s next, a hip or probably a splint? 3D printers were also used together with CAT scans to print out a clone of a tumor before performing surgery, so surgeons will be able to see what they are dealing with.
3.) Wing Commander Andy Green is preparing to break the world record for land speed in 2013. He will be piloting the Bloodhound SSC on a speed of 1,000mph. The car has been fitted with 3D components with the help of CAD and a clay molding of Green’s hands.
Sadly, there are no commercial 3D printers available for home and personal use.