3D printing technology

3D printing is a process of making 3D (three dimensional) solid objects from a digital file with extreme precision. This technology is also termed additive manufacturing as the 3D printed object is created by additive processes i.e. by laying down successive layers of manufacturing material one over the other. The physical object to be made is first designed in software like CAD then the design is fed to some computerized machine which builds it layer by layer. In 1984 Chuck hull was the first person to file his own patent for 3D printing and in 1986 he got his patent and the first commercial 3D printer SLA-1 was released.

Benefits of 3D printing:

  1. Improves customisation. Materials can be easily modified to suit a particular individual’s requirement or to suit a particular task.
  2. With the assistance of software and technology, we can make changes simply by a click of the mouse. It makes manufacturing process more flexible.
  3. Unlike subractive manufacturing, it provides maximum productivity with minimum wastage. The end product will be of robust quality. Thus manufacturing becomes more efficient.
  4. Use of 3D printing in manufacturing will reduce cost and time. Recently, China has used giant 3D printers to make 10 full-sized, detached single-storey houses in a day. The cost of each house was less than $5,000.This is a good example of how 3D printing can be used for the producers’ advantage and consumers’ benefit, thus benefiting both parties.
  5. 3D printing creates more jobs for skilled labourers.

There are also some grave concerns about 3D printing technology. Dangerous and destructive weapons can be made easily using 3D technology that will threaten the security of countries. The whole process involves computer software and computerized machines. It is universal truth that computer software will succumb to cyber attacks. As such it is not a foolproof system.

Applications:

In the field of Education-

In the field of education it is of immense use. Students of all streams can make use of this technology to their full advantage and benefits.

In the field of Medicine-

 In the world of medicine 3D printing can be used to create biomaterials like cells, tissues by bio-printing and create prosthetic devices. It is difficult and expensive to produce prosthetics that fit a patient. With 3D printing, measured prosthetics can be modelled and printed at significantly lower cost. Bioprinting allows for the 3D printing of artificial organs, helping solve organ failure issues in patients faster, important to both the patient and his/her family and to healthcare systems.3D printed tissues have been developed for pharmaceutical testing as a cost-effective and ethical means of helping identify the side effects of drugs and validating safe dosages.

In Construction Sector-

3D printing is used to produce architectural scale models, enabling a faster turnaround of the scale model and increasing the overall speed and complexity of the objects produced.

In Art and jewellery making-

 3D printing allows production of customized jewellery at a very low cost. Recently, the Prado Museum organized an exhibition of paintings by well-known artists rendered in 3D. The purpose was to allow visually impaired people to feel these works that were previously inaccessible to them.

These are just a few of the countless ways, from education to medicine to industry to the arts, that 3D printing technologies impact our world today. Covid-19 gave a heavy blow to the manufacturing and other sectors in India crippling the entire economy affecting the livelihood of everyone in the country. In reviving and rejuvenating the economy the 3D technology will be of immense and tremendous use in all sectors. The government can encourage research and training in 3D technology in India to reap all its benefits and advantages.

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