3D Manufacturing some FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions on 3D Manufacturing

What is 3D printing?
3D printing is a process that uses a digital model as a blueprint to create a three-dimensional solid object by building layer by layer from the bottom up with the chosen material.

3D printing is sometimes called additive manufacturing, rapid prototyping, or stereolithography.

To view 3D printing in action click here.

When were the first 3D printers developed?
The first 3D printers were developed in the early 1980s.

How is a 3D print created?
The digital model or 3D image is created using a computer-aided design (CAD) programme. This programme slices the object into wafer-thin cross-sections. During the printing process, the 3D printer builds successive layers of material until the object is complete.

What kind of materials can be used to 3d print an object?
Different 3D printers use different materials. Materials range from liquid polymers to gels and resins. The most common material used to-date though is plastic. Metal 3D printers also exist.

What is additive manufacturing?
Depending on the context 3D printing is also called additive manufacturing, stereolithography, rapid prototyping or architectural modelling.

How is 3D printing used?
3D printing has been used in multiple ways in multiple industries and even domestically. As the technology advances and the cost of 3D printers falls its use is expected to rise exponentially. Research by Markets and Markets predicts the 3D printing market will reach USD $30.19 Billion by 2022, at a CAGR of 28.5% between 2016 and 2022.

What products are 3D printed
Prototypes, tools, parts and even houses and food have been 3D printed.

The car industry regularly uses 3D printing for rapid prototyping. Where before it would have taken 4-5 months and cost maybe half a million to produce a prototype using traditional methods, a 3D printed part can be produced in a matter of days or hours at a significantly reduced cost. Another example is in the aerospace sector where Boeing was one of the early adopters of 3D printing technology. 3D is now becoming more mainstream. In the healthcare industry, 3D printing is gaining popularity for its application in custom prosthetics and dental implants.

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