17 Jun 2013
June 17, 2013

3D Print Me A BMW

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Few of my clients have asked me the question, more often in the last week than ever before, “What is 3D Printing?” and they want to know about the consumer 3D printers that are available on the market. In this article I will provide you with information that will help you to understand what is 3D printing. You will also be able to peek at the technology behind 3D printing.

We have come a very long way in printing technology. Some of us can remember the days when the best thing available was the dot-matrix mono-color printer. Technology has certainly improved and now we can print in color and also print in 3D.

What is 3D Printing?

3D Printing or Additive Manufacturing (formal term) is a process of producing a real solid object from a digital model. The object is built by successive layers of material.  Additive manufacturing process is opposite to “subtractive” manufacturing  process.

What can you print?

According to a Wiki article you can print virtually any shape from a digital model. The article goes on to say “The technology is used for both prototyping and distributed manufacturing in jewelry, footwear, industrial design, architecture, engineering and construction (AEC), automotive, aerospace, dental and medical industries, education, geographic information systems, civil engineering, and many other fields.”

You can also use a commercial 3D printer to print a gun. Really – watch this:

So far so good… now for the freaky part. In the not so long time from now – you will be able to print your food. When I found this out I immediately recalled the time when I was telling my aunt about my soup and we joked about  emailing some for her. See article on 3D printed food here.

In a more recent article ( 8) on IQS Directory, Anna Kucirkova, sums it up nicely by pointing out that “3D printing is hot… And it’s only going to get hotter“.

I hope this article shed some light on the topic and the term “3D Printing” is no longer a mystery.

– Girendra Persaud (June 2013, updated September 2018)

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