3D Printing- The Future is Now

Do you need a dress for the party this weekend? So many cool websites we have like Koovs and Jabong which save us from the trouble of physically going to the stores in the scorching summers or bone-chilling winters or the muddy monsoon. Just at some finger clicks, we can browse through the amazing collection these online stores harbour. Choose the dress, select the size and you are just a button away from owning that piece of design you so eagerly want to wear for your party (of course you have to pay the price). Only this time the button doesn't say Buy It Now, rather it says Download It Now. Just in the matter of minutes, you can print that dress by sitting in front of your laptop. No waiting for the delivery at your doorstep! Sounds fascinating, doesn't it? Moreover, you can customise it before printing it out. No, this is neither a sci-fi story nor am I talking about 50 years into the future. 3D printing is the reality of today. And the picture drawn above is just a few years away from becoming as workaday as brick and mortar store.

3D Printed Garments (PC- Broowaha.com)

3D printing is as old as the internet but not as embedded in our life hence it is still a science fiction for a lot of us. Not all of us have heard about it. In this post, I am going to give a small overview of 3D printing.

3D printing is a revolution in manufacturing giving ultimate control of a product to the consumer. It enables the end user to design, produce and use the desired product. The consumer becomes the creator. Empowering! The process begins with an idea which is translated into a design using one of the easily available software -some for free, others for nominal costs. The printing material is fed into the printer and the design is simply printed into a physical object. Easy as it sounds. In addition to being so easy, there are several other advantages listed below.

Advantages :
  1. Consumers can be creators
  2. Low material cost
  3. Low production cost 
  4. Fast processing
  5. 90% less material usage as compared to subtractive manufacturing
  6. Less wastage as it is an additive manufacturing
  7. Production site close to consumption site
  8. Shipment cost eliminated
  9. Requirement of economies of scale eliminated
  10. No expertise required
  11. Products are easy to customise
  12. Reduces the need of assembling small parts
  13. Complex designs can be printed
  14. Digital designs are used
  15. Easy design replication
  16. Very low investment cost for startups

3D Modelling Software: 
  1. Autodesk (Pier 9 facility)
  2. Fusion360
  3. TinkerCad
  4. Blender
  5. Mesh Mixer
  6. Google Sketchup

3D File Format:
  1. .scad - openSCAD file format
  2. .stl - Stereolithographic data by 3D Systems
  3. .3ds - Autodesk 3D Max
  4. .obj - Warefront Technologies

MakerBot Cupcake, (PC-wikipedia.com)
MakerBot Replicator (PC-Ebay.in)

  1. 3D Printer
    1. MakerBot: Cupcake (World's first desktop 3D printer), Replicator
    2. PrintrBot
    3. Ultimaker: Ultimaker Original, Ultimaker 2, Ultimaker 2+
    4. SlollsBot
    5. Reprap (3D printable 3D printer)
    6. 3D Systems
    7. Stratasys
    8. MCor
    9. Voxel
  2. Printing Materials 
    1. Passive material - Plastic, Nylon, Resin, simulated polypropylene, HIPS
    2. Metamaterials- Combination of multiple base materials
    3. Active material-Intelligent material(can store data, compute, move, change shapes)
    4. Liquid Metals - terminator, graphene
PLA Filament (PC-Ebay.in)
  1. Selective Laser Sintering (SLS): A 3D printing technology that uses high-intensity light to sinter a powdered material.
  2. Stereolithography (SLA):  A 3D printing technology which makes objects by using a high-intensity light or a laser to harden a plastic resin.
  3. Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM): A 3D printing technology which makes the object by melting filament and extruding it through a small nozzle.
  4. Maker's Mark : Creating 3D designs by combining clay and stickers
3D Printing Communities
  1. Hackerspace :Workspace for people sharing common interests in computing, machining, technology, science etc. 
  2. Thingiverse : Website founded by  MakerBot for creating and sharing 3D printable designs. 
  3. Soli : A Google project which enables the user to create 3D objects by touchless gestures using sensing technology with miniature radars. 
  4. 3DHubsCommunityty connecting the 3D printers in over 150 countries. 
  5. Hackaday : Website for sharing the projects


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