Considering the innovative advancements and growing presence of 3D printing in the past decade, it’s hard to believe that 3D printing has been around since 1979. In that time, 3D printing has slowly become more and more advanced and prevalent in our culture. Similar to the common appliances most people have at home, 3D printers are becoming increasingly better while older models of 3D printers are becoming cheaper. If this trend continues, it can be expected that 3D printers will appear in every household just like 2D printers. The benefits seem endless. 3D printers create minimal waste. The only material used in the printing process is that of the model and printing supports (which are easily removed). Although the filament material for 3D printing can vary, the material overall is still very cheap because of the minimal processing cost. Moreover, if if the product is defective or does not meet product standards, the material can be recycled. Filament Extruders can be a bit of an investment, but they have the capability of melting down faulty or defective 3D printed prototypes into new, reusable filament. This easy method of recycling makes 3D printing a perfect tool for prototyping for it minimizes manufacturing waste and production costs. Overall, 3D printers can be adjusted to print different types of materials and allow you to print cheap, disposable, but durable, prototypes and final products.
With 3D printing, you can print complex shapes, movable parts, and hollow geometries outside the capabilities of current manufacturing tools. In the medical field, these features can be used to personalize a patient’s surgery. 3D printing has been used to print custom surgical tools, models of MRI and CT scans, and extremely cheap prosthetics. In fact, the National Institute of Health (among other databases) have open source prosthetic models that anyone can modify and use. Everybody’s body is unique, and that makes 3D printing ideal for manufacturing medical devices. Customizable shapes can help create frames for scaffolds, personalized molds, or surgical implants. We can even print hair! Balding people rejoice! This can help lower the price of implanting artificial hair since the hair can be customized. Instead of looking for a matching style of the patient’s hair, it can be manufactured to look natural.
With so much possibility and creativity 3D printing can influence everything from medicine, to manufacturing, to everyday life. Everything is made possible with 3D printing even though it has been around for awhile, it’s finally becoming accessible to all allowing us to make cheaper and more ecological things.