3D printing is the procedure of building three dimensional solid objects and is achieved by using what we call additive processes. The object is made by using additive processes by placing consecutive layers of material on top of each other.
This differs from traditional machining techniques (subtractive processes) where objects are effectively carved out of a solid block of material.
The processes used in additive printing are very distinct from traditional manufacturing techniques and are generally performed by a materials printer that makes use of digital technology.
3D printing services are becoming increasingly in demand and this demand is expected to increase dramatically in the future. These printers are capable of outputting solid objects and offer us a whole new range of digital manufacturing capabilities.
Such possibilities are already attracting mainstream media as this technology will be able to do for producing physical items what computers and the web have already done for the processing and storage of information. The technology is already being widely used in industrial design, engineering, footwear and jewellery.
Sintering technologies such as stereolithography, fused deposition modelling and selective laser sintering are being used in printing services worldwide. There are new technologies emerging too such as direct metal laser sintering.
Nowadays you should expect to see a wide number of commercial services being offered by many different companies. These employ the latest technologies that are already inspiring many smaller manufacturers.
Traditional 2D printer manufacturers are also trying to move into the 3D printing world. However, the prices are steep for industrial printers and can easily cost ten thousand pounds or more. Costs for consumer DIY Printer Kits are now much lower though.
Many private individuals and designers often obtain 3D objects from commercial printing services online. Anyone can have their designs printed as real objects and marketed online. 3D printing services are useful in many applications.
Currently these printers are employed for quick product prototyping and to create moulds that will be used in the mass production of the final item. Such printing helps the engineers to verify the look and the fit of various components long before they actually become involved in expensive mass production.
Architects can show these detailed and low-priced models to their clients and get their approval. Archaeologists and medical professionals can find full-size, 3D prints very helpful in their profession. Professional printing services are also being used extensively in education.
These printers and printing services show many areas of potential in near future. They can, for example, be used for production of on demand spare parts for all kinds of products.
Three dimensional printing has already been tested by NASA on the International Space Station. It plans to use these services for creating high resolution multidimensional models for the production of spacecraft parts in future space missions. The US Army is also making use of advanced printers for creating spare tank and vehicle components.
Clearly, there is soon going to be a high demand of 3D printing services in almost every industry.