What can you print with a 3D printer?

In every manufacturing process, there are three key ingredients needed to bring a product to life and they are; the design model, material feed and a machine for manufacturing. Although each process comes with its own details and specifications, today, we will be focusing on the machine process and how it applies to 3D printing.

To accurately do justice to the topic of ‘what can you print with a 3D printer’, multiple subtopics covering different aspect of a 3D printer’s uses will be explored. Subtopics such as explaining the 3D printer, it’s working process and the top 5 industries and how it is used in professions will be discussed in detail.

So what is a 3D Printer?

A 3D printer is a printing device that employs multiple techniques to print 3 dimensional objects or models. The 3D printer is unlike your average printing device used for printing words or texts on items for it prints actual 3 dimensional objects in physical space. This printer employs the use of a fusion mechanism–heat, UV light etc.–to cure materials into solid compact shapes using some of the techniques below:

  • Stereolithography (SLA): this technique makes use of ultraviolet violet light on a vat of photosensitive materials to develop solid 3D objects.
  • Fused Deposit Modeling (FDM): this technique ales use of heat to melt materials and deposit them in layers that form a 3D model.
  • Digital Light Processing (DLP): makes use of rapid prototyping to cure photosensitive polymer resins (plastic, ceramic,  metal etc. ). But unlike the SLA, DLP makes use of projector light rather than UV rays.
  • Selective Laser Sintering (SLS): this technique involves the use of high power lasers to fuse small material particles to form a 3D model.

Now,  it is important to note that there are still other techniques 3D printers use in printing but the above four are the most popular techniques used by modern printers for additive manufacturing.

Now What can you print with a 3D printer

5 Industries that Make Use of a 3D Printer

Those who have been intrigued with the explanations on additive manufacturing so far may begin to ask the question; what can I make with a 3D printer? To answer this question, let us cover some industries that currently make use of 3D printing and your profession might just fall under one of these categories.

Related Post: 40 websites to download free STL files for your 3D printer

3D printing in Interior Decoration

An interior decorator is tasked with the responsibility of creating art by arranging items–furniture, utensils, color schemes etc. –in a domestic or corporate environment. Therefore the decorators make use of pieces from the furniture, home appliances and creative arts industry.

Experienced 3D printers currently make use of additive manufacturing to build durable furniture pieces, domestic utensils and exquisite artworks. This is made possible because 3D printers can be used to create 3D objects from almost every material–ceramic, glass, plastic, metal–you love.

3D Printers and the Biotech Industry

A while back, the story of an 8 year old boy building a prosthetic arm for his personal use via a 3D printer went viral on social media platforms. One of the 3D printer uses includes manufacturing prosthetic limbs, human organs and skeletal components for the Biotech Industry.

Image source: express.co.uk

Image source: http://express.co.uk

Although to accomplish such feats, an in-depth understanding of robotics, science and medicine be required. Therefore  professionals in the biomedical field can take advantage of the manufacturing prowess of a 3D printer.

3D Printers and Fashion Design

The days of using sewing machines have become obsolete with the avenue of 3D printing in fashion design.

In February,  fashionistas world wide were introduced to the wonders of 3D printing by designers threeASFOUR and Travis Fitch’s debut of 3D printed clothing at the New York Fashion week.

What-can-you-print-with-a-3D-printer

Image source: http://dezeen.com

This artistic use of a 3D printer is sure to spur its own movement as more people try developing fashion lines or simple clothing for their own personal use. The use of 3D printing in fashion may still be in its infancy but once 3D printers are built solely to address this need, its potential in fashion will be limitless.

3D printing and Toy Manufacturing

Every 3D Printing enthusiast has at one time or the other produced a toy as a gift for his or her loved ones. And Mattel is taking this a step further by providing kids with a 3D printing studio to create toys according to their artistic preferences.

Image source: http://3ders.org

Image source: http://3ders.org

The toy production industry has always been one of the major industries benefitting from the additive manufacturing process and will continue to do so for a long time. So why not start your printing career by building a toy for your kid from scratch?

3D printing and Weapons Manufacturing

The first 3D printed gun was fired in 2013 and since then,  more and more people have employed the use of additive manufacturing in developing weapons–guns, drones etc.–for their personal use. Although this raises many ethical questions, it is impossible to ignore the fact that 3D printing has the potential to revolutionise the weapons manufacturing industry.

What-can-you-print-with-a-3D-printer

Image source: http://geektyrant.com

I hope this answers the question of what you can make with a 3D printer as well as inspires you to advance the cause of humanity by developing creative pieces for our ethical use.

Related Article: 3D Printing Ideas

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