Written By Saanvi Mundra (Grade 9)
3D printing is speculated to be the fourth industrial revolution. It is transforming the traditional manufacturing process and is comparatively more economical. In the near future, we may 3D print things like human organs that we had never in the past imagined we could. This article aims to give this cutting-edge technology a brief summary, summarize the benefits and diverse applications of 3D printing and explain its significance.
What is it? How does it work?
As the name suggests, 3D printing is similar to 2D printing, but instead, 3D printers produce 3D objects. Printers usually use plastic, but they can also use metals, food and even living cells. This is the material that has to be fed to the printer with which they make the object. It is based on a term called ‘additive manufacturing’ where objects are made layer by layer by the printer after it is given a blueprint of the product to be made.
- Lesser time – Giant 3D printers printed 10 houses in China in just one day. These 3D printers could help rebuild houses quickly in disaster zones.
- Lesser labour – An Austrian architect designed the Museum of Contemporary Art and Planning Exhibition in China. With advanced 3D printing technology, the number of workers needed on the site went down from 160 to a mere 8.
- Lesser money – 3D printing houses generate a saving of upto 35% out of the total house price in the UK. The cost reduces due to reduction in labour and raw material.
- Efficient – Complex parts of aircrafts and automobiles are 3D printed since they are lighter and more effective.
- Environment friendly – Negligible wastage of raw material benefits the environment.
- Negligible transport – Toxic emissions from vehicles like ships and trucks that transport goods from factories to shops is minimum, which benefits the environment.
- Mass customization – Consumer products like prosthetics, clothes, shoes, jewellery, bags, spectacles and watches can all be customized to fit our personal needs.
- Creation of complex shapes – Products that are difficult to traditionally manufacture and have intricate designs on products like clothes, houses and even food can be effortlessly made.
The fourth industrial revolution- The significance of 3D printing
- Self-repairing houses – Researchers are exploring the potential of living biomaterials that could quickly self-repair or adapt to the surrounding environment which could 3D print self-repairing houses.
- Production and consumption together – 3D printing is enabling the place of consumption to be the place of production as well. An example illustrating the importance of this is- Astronauts from NASA aboard the International Space Station 3D print objects they need on the space station itself, since it is impossible to have a factory up there, and it requires a large investment of resources to send things through spacecrafts every now and then.
- Artificial organs – In the medical industry, we have successfully made small body parts like noses and ears. Using a patient’s living cells as material, surgeons are testing 3D printed artificial organs for transplants.
This technique opens a doorway to a wide range of unimaginable characteristics of the products it prints. It completely transforms the manufacturing process. As Lod Hipson said, “3D printing is shaking our age-old notions of what can and can’t be made.”
Featured Image Courtesy – Unsplash