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    3D Printing: In Industry and at Home

    3D Printer Head for home or industrial use

    3D Printing: In Industry and at Home

    Printing is an age-old technology that has revolutionised the industry over the ages. From the old press printers that were used a couple of centuries ago, to the modern-day laser printer: using such technology has allowed us to create and distribute books, newspapers, posters and photographs to the masses.

    However, the main limitation of printing is that it can only be done in 2D, which limits it to only printing images and text onto thin materials i.e. paper, card etc. This is where 3D printers come in. 3D printing is a relatively new technology that allows you to create 3D objects from the comfort of your desk chair.

    How It Works

    There are different techniques of creating an item using a 3D printer, but they all follow the same basic principle: using a liquid material, you build up layers into the created model. So what will happen is the 3D model that has been created on your computer will be broken down into different thickness layers. The printer, using the chosen material, will start from the bottom and will gradually build upon layer after layer until you get your model. This mean’s you can create a model, albeit a small one, of anything.

    Industrial Use Cases

    This technology is currently in use in the industry and is used in many areas. Architects, designers and engineers can use it to create scale models of products, from homes to toys, in very quick time. However, the hope is to use 3D printers for mass production.

    The 3D printer could, theoretically, create components for products in quick time to be taken away for assembly. All you would need to do is create the schematics for the product on a computer, choose what material you wish to create it with and then click print.

    This can revolutionize any manufacturing, or even repairing, industry out there. For example, a customers car is broken due to a faulty part that needs replacing. Conventionally, you will have to either stock or order in the part that needs replacing. However, with a 3D printer, you can easily create the part and have the car fixed in less time.

    Uses at Home

    Even with its advances in technology, 3D printers are still rather expensive pieces of kit. However, they are still available for people to buy and use at home. Currently, they are used by hobbyists to create whatever they can think of but scientists are thinking of ways they can integrate 3D printers in the home.

    Scientists are currently working on a 3D printer that can create food. What you do is put in the canisters of the ingredients to wish to use, like ink cartridges in a printer, and then tell the printer what you want it to make. You can decide how hot the food is, how crispy it is and even the texture of the food.

    This could potentially change our health habits with what we eat. For example, today you buy a ready meal, put it in either the microwave or the oven and then eat it once its cooked, which involves minimal input to what the food contains nutritionally.

    However, with a 3D printer you can, potentially, decide on the nutrient, salt and fat content the food has which could essentially affect our health for the better.

    What is so interesting about a 3D printer is the possibilities for creation. From a scientific point of view, everything is made of layers of particles. So in that sense, with the correct building materials in the printer, you can create anything that can come to mind in less time than it would to create with your hands.

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