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3D printing is the latest printing technology which builds objects by grouping up materials in successive layers. The design is initially done on a computer using drafting software and it is converted to pile of 2-dimensional layers through a program. The printer will develop the final design by depositing a layer of material like molten plastic which is hardened, followed by several other layers which gradually lead to the needed shape. In recent years there has been a drastic increase in sale of 3D printers especially among well-funded industrial, government and academic settings. The personal 3D printers are available at prices ranging from $400 to $4,000 dollars. There are many reasons why 3D printing or even laser marking technology is considered to be a powerful tool for innovation and it reduced the expense and time need to design intricate and complicated objects. 3D printing is heralded as a game changing technology that will turn traditional manufacturing upside down. Some advantages of 3D printing which could lead to a revolution innovation and technology,

Rapid prototyping:

Industrial 3D printers are used largely for research purpose and rapid prototyping. Industrial 3D printers were available since 1980s and make use of proprietary powdered metals, cartridges, plastics, casting media to create models of intricate objects. Industrial 3D printers are manufactured by popular companies like Stratasys, Objet Geometries, 3D Systems, Mcor Technologies Ltd. 3D printing allows you to create small batches of objects and reduces the cost of mass manufacturing.

Minimized Design Complexity and Cost:

Traditional

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approaches to design complex objects involve removal of materials and follow a subtractive process. Different cutting tools like Lasers, abrasives and blades were used to carve solid blocks and design finer features. These processes were very complex and required advanced skills which increased the cost of designing intricate objects. But 3D printing introduced the additive manufacturing concept in which initial design is done through computer and modeled through successive layers of materials. This process is much more simple and cost-effective as well.

Mass Production and Customization:

3D printing is next level technology widely used for rapid manufacturing since it can inexpensively produce small number of parts at large scale. Also 3D printing is used by some manufacturing companies in which customers can customize the design of objects with help of web-based software and resulting products are manufactured using 3D printing technology. For example, mobile manufacturer Nokia released 3D designs of their mobile casings which could be customized by the end users with help of simple web-based software. The customized design is manufactured with rapid-prototyping and 3D printing technology. 3D printing is also used for mass production by using several combined filament machines. Some printers contain twin print heads with multiple materials/colors that help in increasing printing speed. 3D printing technology has ultimately resulted in industrial revolution by minimizing the cost of mass production and rapid prototyping.

Research on New Technologies and Products:

3D printing has lot of scope in research of new applications and technology. It has already altered the way how doctors design prosthetics and how engineers and architects design air planes, car parts and buildings etc. 3D printing can also be used in future to create open-source scientific equipment and research purposes. It could be used for various research purposes such as replicate ancient artifacts in archaeology, reconstruct damaged evidence for criminal investigations, forensic pathology, building construction, tissue engineering applications in biotechnology where parts of body could be designed and building with inkjet techniques.

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