3D printing is an additive manufacturing process where a three-dimensional object can be created by precisely adding layers of material. It is revolutionizing countless industries and offers previously unimaginable levels of customizability and convenience. 3D printing is able to produce complex parts that are literally impossible through traditional methods, all that is required is a CAD drawing. As it is an additive process, parts can be made with the absolute minimum of waste, and the fast nature of the technique makes it ideal for modern industries that can’t afford to wait around.
3D printing is one of the most versatile manufacturing techniques available and can be used in almost any industry. It is best put to use in cases where a part or product is highly complex in shape, for example lattice structures, or where internal detailing is required. It is also particularly suited to rapid manufacturing, and often a 3D printer can produce a finished product without the need for further assembly. It is also useful for extremely short runs, for example only one or two prototypes, as there are no tooling costs and no need to produce a mold.
First, a detailed CAD file imported into 3D printing software (Magics). This software analyses the CAD drawing and breaks it down into ultra-thin cross-sectional layers. An engineer will analyse the object to be printed and decide whether it needs additional supports to be printed so that the structure can remain stable. This additional material is later removed in post-production. The printer head is laser controlled and gradually builds up the object by working along the thin cross sections identified by the software. A wide range of materials are available, and this range is increasing all the time as the technology becomes more advanced.