What is a 3D Printer and Why Should I Care?

We’ve all heard of CAD and 3D printers, but we may not have much understanding of what this means or why this technology is so profound.

Contrary to traditional manufacturing processes that rely on methods of cutting and drilling to carve out objects, an additive manufacturing process like 3D printing works by ‘fusing together’ layers of vinyl material to build an object.

This task is performed by a machine called a 3D printer which, under computer control, can carry out this process with unmatched precision and superior accuracy.

Applications of 3D Printing

The rapid growth and improvements in 3D printing technology have enabled many industries to benefit from it. Here are some of the industries that use 3D printing for a variety of purposes:

AEROSPACE - The technology is being used to manufacture complex yet lightweight parts for aircraft and space applications.

ARCHITECTURE - This industry utilizes this technology for structure verification, design review, reverse-structure engineering, and expedited scaled modeling.

AUTOMOTIVE - The automotive industry actively uses 3D printing technology for design verification and developing new engines.

DEFENSE - 3D printing technology in the defense sector is being utilized for making light-weight parts for surveillance equipment.

EDUCATION - 3D printing provides an excellent method for geometry visualizations and design initiatives at art schools.

ENTERTAINMENT - All kinds of prototypes of toys, action figures, games, musical equipment and, other things are being manufactured using 3D printers.

HEALTHCARE - The medical field has gained an edge because of the advancements in 3D printing. Several working organs have been created and a lot of research is being carried out. It may not be too long when organs for transplant could be easily ‘printed.’

MANUFACTURING - The manufacturing industry uses 3D printing for a variety of purposes, including creating models of products before they are manufactured on a mass scale.

Perhaps you are a craftsperson who can imagine new possibilities, you’re considering expanding career options, or you are just plain curious. Read more about the MakerSpace at the University of Texas to see what’s possible.

Visit the library’s website and click on ‘Calendar’ to see when the next MakerDay is scheduled.