Three-Dimensional Printing – How It's Changing the WorldOld, rigid manufacturing processes are quietly being replaced by on-demand three-dimensional printing solutions in a process that will change how we view technology. According to the new book “FABRICATED: The New World of 3D Printing,” professionals in many different fields are benefiting from this change. From doctors and designers to students and aerospace manufacturers, a surprising range of people are making use of 3D printers in new and exciting ways.
The History of Printing in 3DWhile most people have only begun to hear about this technology in the past few years, the 3D process has actually been around since the late 1980s. Recent advances in technology have made it easier to have your own printer at home, creating works out of materials as diverse as resin, chocolate and metal alloys. The result is improved flexibility for manufacturer prototyping, offline promotion efforts and small scale production among individuals and businesses both small and large.
The Effect on ManufacturingOnce a country of factories, the United States has become a nation of service jobs. The White House is hoping to change that, relying on new 3D printing technology to give the manufacturing sector a much-needed boost, as is the case with mailing campaigns from years past. As of May 9, 2013, the federal government announced a new $200 million initiative designed to create three manufacturing centers in locations around the US, all modeled on Ohio's National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute.
Two of the centers are meant to help the US Defense Department with complex weapon system production and strong, light-weight metals for military use. The remaining center is dedicated to the US Department of Energy, with a goal of creating more efficient electric vehicle technology, an improved power grid, and new power generators for military use.
Between federal programs designed to boost three-dimensional printing advances and the increased availability of devices, this kind of technology could make huge differences in day to day life. These relatively simple printers make it easier to produce one-of-a-kind items, each with its own logo, or make special modifications to products. They even allow consumers to make their own products at home, potentially decentralizing manufacturing. With the advent of printing in 3D, big changes are on the horizon.
By Abbey Peschel (find on twitter).