3-D Printer: Printing the Future
Every day a new 3-D Printer is being launched in the markets around the world. According to many experts 3-D Printers have the potential to change the world because they could be used to make a large variety of products, varying in shapes and sizes. 3-D Printers could be used from making small objects like sewing needle and up to cars and bikes. Trade and market experts believe that in the near future 3-D Printers will become a part of everyday household items. Well, at least in United States and rich European Nations it is a real possibility in the coming years.
Chuck Hull, of 3D Systems Company invented 3-D Printing technique in 1984.
Different kinds of 3-D Printers are being made every day. There was a news article about an Indian-American student Apoorva Kiran, who printed a working loudspeaker with the help of a 3-D Printer. And he didn’t have to assemble its different parts together. It was ready to use immediately after it came out of the printer. Another Indian national engineer, Anjan Contractor developed a 3-D Printer that could print out food items for astronauts during long space missions.
The big question is how significant a 3-D Printer is to a common man? Are the claims made by the experts really true? And would it really make a substantial impact on the world in the coming years?
At present the market of 3-D Printer is worth about 1.7 billion dollars. It’s predicted to grow up to 8.41 billion dollars in 2020.
Engineers and designers working on developing and improving the technology of 3-D Printers have full faith in the claims that it will change the world in the same way as the personal computers did. But not everyone agrees with such claims. There is a section of critics who say that, the companies manufacturing 3-D Printers are willfully promoting and over-hyping its impact. They argue that 3-D Printers have been in the market for over thirty years, and it hasn’t made any substantial impact yet because it is a very expensive piece of technology.
What is a 3-D Printer?
3-D printing technology is now being considered the future of production and manufacturing. The mechanism of creating a model in 3-D Printer is completely the opposite to that of the normal method. Normally if an artist wants to make a statue he would first take a block of marble and then starts chipping away until he gets the desired shape. But in 3-D Printer, instead of removing the excess portion it gradually adds the material layer by layer, through a controlled nozzle, until the object is fully formed.
A number of materials can be used in 3-D Printers to build an object, like gold, silver, plastic or any other metal. Before printing an object a computer-designed model of the object is created. This design could be a relatively complex shape. Once the design is created 3-D Printer will easily recreate it in a physical structure.
Types of 3-D Printing technologies
- Fused deposition modelling- They use plastic to build models.
- Stereo-lithography- It uses laser to cure a resin and build an object.
- Selective laser sintering- It uses laser to forge powered metal to build an object.
Why is it being considered the future of production?
Those people who are interested in 3-D Printers believe that this technology will change the face of the earth in the coming years. According to them 3-D Printers will change the house of a common man into a factory in itself. It is not just a printer but it is also a model making machine. 3-D Printers will revolutionize the lives of the people, by giving them the power to manufacture any product they want.
In the year 2025 up to 10% of all consumer products will be made using 3D technology.
Last year in London there was an exhibition titled “3D: printing the future”. It was informed in this exhibition that today there are more than fifty five lakh people in the world, who have artificial hips, teeth, eyes etc. implanted in their body, which were all made by a 3-D Printer. This technology is not just limited in creating artificial human limbs and organs. It could also be used in creating television, washing machine, lamps and many other such household products that people use in their everyday life.
If your child wants a toy that is not available in the market, you can use 3-D Printer to make it in your own house. Or else if one part is missing from your child’s toy train track, you don’t have to buy him a new set. You can make that missing part yourself. There are many uses of 3-D Printers that are attracting customers to invest in it. Experts believe it will become a part of everyday household just like a personal computer, television or washing machine.
Tackling the challenges of 3-D Printers
In the early days when 3-D printing technology was just introduced, people said it is so expensive that only a big manufacturing company could afford to buy them. A common man would have to rob a bank for purchasing it. Apart from the price another big obstacle was designing 3-D structures for the products. But as time went by these problems were resolved with the emergence of new technology.
Today you don’t have to worry about designing a 3-D structure, as all the blueprints of the objects and parts are available on the internet. Only thing you have to do is download them and then print it in a 3-D Printer. And the good thing about this is that you don’t need to be an expert in graphic designing. Any person could do it.
Dropping Price Rates
The prices of 3-D Printers are coming down with every passing year and the emergence of new technology in this field. Today you can buy 3-D Printers at just sixty to seventy thousand rupees. This price will fall even further in the future. Last year researchers conducted an experiment in the Michigan Technological University. The researchers found out in their analysis that a 3-D Printer could save thousands of consumer dollars. In this experiment the researchers made twenty products which people use every day. They made these products within 25 hours and only spent 18 dollars. But when they bought these products from the market it cost them more than 1900 dollars.
This technology is still not as cheap as a computer but it has great potential in it. It could be used to make a range of different products. 3-D Printers are used in medicine for creating medical parts, like braces, hearing aids etc. Engineers and architects use 3-D Printers to create objects on site as needed. The possibilities of things you can do with a 3-D Printer is just limited by your imagination.
Photo Source: Wikipedia
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