By Chris Waldo
3D printing is a pretty cool manufacturing technology that will work to change the way that we get things made. When someone is looking to design their own product, tool, or part, 3D printing is usually there to pick up the slack. Let's talk about how 3D printing can help virtually anyone that's interested in creating something.
Who will this technology effect? Well, like I mentioned earlier, 3D printing will be there to help anyone who is interested in creating something. 3D printing can work with a variety of materials, sizes, and features. If a 3D printing machine needs to be used for creating a precise design with tons of curves and sharp edges, this technology will work. If you're interested in creating a fully colored sculpture of your face - this technology can also help there.Perhaps you may be working from inside off a machine shop - 3D printing will be there to help produce customized parts as well. When it comes down to producing parts and projects, this manufacturing technology is here to catch the slack. Who is directly affected by this technology though?
Well, "people who want to make stuff" is a pretty vague category. Another broad category might include engineers. Some of these engineers use this technology for a wide variety of purposes. Some of these purposes include architectural diagrams, or in different terms: a full color (or no color) physical model of a building. Some engineers use 3D printing to produce functional parts, for testing purposes. An example would be almost any kind of phone or gadget that's been mass produced. Instead of the manufacturers producing thousands of a part to test it, they would use 3d printing to produce 5-10 pieces. These prints would speak for the quality of the design, material, and many other aspects. Many professionals and engineers use additive manufacturing outside of diagrams and testing to produce ready to use parts. People within this genre of engineers work like machine shops, in that they produce parts quickly in a custom manor for clients. Perhaps someone within the aerospace industry needs a highly specialized piece out of a certain material to the exact dimensions of a design; this is where 3D printing comes into play! There are other engineering fields that use 3D printing, such as the biomedical industry - but you get the idea.
Not just engineers use 3D printing methods when it comes down to producing things. Many people like to create things just to create them - it's exciting! These people who I'm referring to are typically apart of the maker movement. If you haven't heard of the maker movement, you may want to look into it. Other artists and sculptors like to use 3D printing as another way to produce art in a physical form, rather than featuring fully done designs on the computer. These designs can look much better when they are produced on a real format, if you will. There is something that is magical about holding a piece that you actually designed by yourself.
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