3D Printing- Technology Moving Forward
A while back 3D printing shifted from being theoretical to practical, it became a reality. Recently, 3D printers have also become cheaper; various models are now accessible in the market, in addition to a variety of designs for potential products. Specialists predict that 3D printers will soon become more common in households in the coming years. As people continue to be educated regarding how 3D printing works and the up sides, they have been opting to give it a try themselves. 3D printings use practical objects that are used on an everyday basis, all the way up to commercial products and objects used in manufacturing. Over the years, this technology has proven to be a great advantage for the medical and automotive industries.
Printing at Home Vs. Commercial Printing
3D printing or rapid prototyping allows you to convert a 3D model of any given digital object into an actual physical object. These objects could be anything ranging from models of spoons, forks, sports items to automobile parts.
It is said that home 3D printing was assumed to be the next world changing development. In line with this, initially, it was projected that the future would be one where people would start printing and manufacturing everything they needed right from home! Ranging from cups and plates to car parts, gadgets or other essentials. Enthusiasts predicted that people would most probably prefer to print their needs right from home rather than purchasing them from a shop or store online.
Fast forward a few years and it looks like the typical home or household doesn’t exactly need or prefer 3D printed objects. When they do want 3D printed goods, they would much rather opt to purchase items online rather than going out of their way to purchase a 3D printer and then learn all the knitty gritty details of how they are used. In order to use 3D printing, you would need to have some form of designing talent and you would probably need to be aware of how design software works. Most people do not term themselves as ‘tech-savvy’ and may find such a process related to 3D printing rather daunting opposed to simple. These factors in addition to financial constraints have prevented the 3D printing business to boom at household levels. The affordable 3D printers that are catered for homes are usually limited in terms of what they have to offer. Ranging from the material, size, final finishing, quality, speed, etc, household 3D printers just don’t meet the demand as expected. Hence, they don’t serve as the first option of printing for most consumers.
Contrary to household 3D printing, commercially, 3D printing or rapid prototyping is on a roll! Entrepreneurs, medical experts, business leaders, engineers, software designers and many others are taking advantage of the 3D printing tools and getting ahead in the market. Design firms and engineers use the printers to aid them with rapid prototyping. Industrial based 3D printers offer work with a wider range of materials, making room for an even bigger market. Multiple layers of larger products can be printed at the same time, saving both time and money.
3D printers are not anywhere close to producing gadgets that are more complex or innovative. Most of these printers are able to form layers with one to two materials at any given time so it’s not at all an easy task to produce something like cell phones that use a variety of materials, from plastic, metal, glass, silver, etc.
In contrast to this, 3D printing can prove to be very fruitful for those producing simple objects that do not require too many layers of a variant of materials. For simple products that are being produced in mass numbers, conventional methods of manufacturing would probably be more economical and practical if compared to the idea of printing each object one by one on a 3D printer.
To give you an example of how 3D printing compares in household levels opposed to commercial levels, consider the following:
It can easily be assumed that most people have standard printers at home, which can be used to print out not only papers but also volumes of books. But people usually don’t choose to print out books at home. They would much rather purchase the books from an actual shop or just order them online. For most people, they would rather buy printed books that have been manufactured through the good old conventional methods; 3D printing doesn’t even cross their minds. 3D printing of books at home would be time consuming and tedious to say the least. And to top it off, you wouldn’t get the same quality of books from home 3D printing as you would if you purchased them directly from a bookshop. On economic fronts, purchasing books from the shops is also much cheaper than printing out a book at home. When it comes to 3D printing, similar perceptions and realities follow.
Up till date, commercial 3D printing has hit it off well in the market and continues to do well. On the other hand, household 3D printing hasn’t really hit the mark as strikingly. But the future is unpredictable. Household printing may at one point come into competition with commercial 3D printing. The world of technology does not allow us to close doors on any given possibility. Only time will tell where 3D printing will take homes; or should we say, where homes will take 3D printing?
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