The first 3D Printer I ever saw built a whistle right before my eyes. The demonstrator showed us how the printer takes in a digital image and some plastic and outputs something 3D. As he removed the whistle he immediately shared one fault of 3D printers…they still can’t defy gravity! Nope – the little ball inside the whistle to help make the sound correct had to be cut away from the side of the whistle so that it could be properly blown. So what is 3D printing? Below I’ll share the answer to this question and more!
3D printing was born into the world of technology in 1986 via Charles Hull, but did not really take hold until 1990. The basic concept is as follows: a digital image is submitted to the printer (created using a software like CAD) and then the printer “prints” out the image it sees. 3D printers today can use materials like plastic or glass to things like wax and steel.
Many 3D Printers have the job of prototyping various models for engineers. However, many feel that in the coming years, 3D printers could take over the manufacturing industry completely. Another major use of 3D Printers is in the medical world. Surgeons use the printer to have models of their patients organs that need an operation. In August, 2011, the world’s first 3D printed aircraft was created at the University of Southampton.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to the money. For a commercial 3D Printer, you’ll spend anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000 and even still – some 3D printers that are not available for purchase are worth millions of dollars.
So what’s next?
You may be asking yourself what’s next with 3D printers… well just recently, the worlds first 3D-printed car was created.