3D Printing (Additive Manufacturing)
3D Printing (also known as additive manufacturing) is a process where an object is created by adding material layer by layer from a computer blueprint/design. It allows designers to create complex parts for machines, airplanes and cars at a fraction of cost and time of standard means like forging, molding and sculpting.
Key steps involved in 3D printing
- Create a blueprint of the object that requires to be printed. Modelling software like blenders, CADs can be used to create the design to be printed.
- Printing works on the layering principle where layers of material is added till the final object is created. Most common material used in 3D printing is plastic, but other material can also be used.
Three key advantages of 3D printing are shorter lead time, design freedom, and lower costs.
Main uses: It’s hard to find a sector where 3D printing hasn’t had an impact.
- Manufacturing and other industrial sector can now use 3D printing to develop prototype models and test new components.
- It is also playing a significant role on fashion industry with fashion designers experimenting with 3D-printed clothes shoes etc.
- Medical Sector has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the technology
- Doctors have been testing biomaterials for regenerative medicines. Some surgeons have even tested 3D printed organs for transplant.
- Cultural Heritage preservation, restoration, and dissemination
- Many museums in advanced countries have started using the 3D printing technology for actively creating missing pieces of relics.
- Homes and other buildings: Recently a giant 3D printer in China printed 10 houses in just one day and at a cost of less than $5,000 per house. It proved how cost and time efficient 3D printing can be.
- Food Industry: 3D printing is being used for designing cakes on demand and other food items.
- Defence Sector:
- For e.g., the corps of Engineers used 3D printing to construct 22,000 temperatures controlled, relocatable, habitat in the high-altitude areas of LAC.
- In addition to 3D printing habitat, the Army’s Corps of Engineers in consultation with IIT Gandhinagar, came up with 3D printed permanent defenses for forward areas. Trials have shown that these 3D printed defences can take direct hit from T-90 tank from 100 meters away and can be constructed in a much shorter time frame compared to regular defensive bunkers.
- Intellectual Property Rights: Once 3D printing becomes very popular, it would be difficult to prevent the IPR violation by individuals at their homes and privately.
- Health Issues: Experts have raised concerns about potential health implications of the technology due to exposure to gases and other materials including nanomaterial. Particle emissions from a fused filament generally peaks during printing and may include a large number of ultrafine particles and volatile organic compounds.
- Public Safety may become an issue with 3-D printing advanced guns being available with anti-social elements, including terrorists.
- The extraordinary thing about 3D printing is that it can be used to create just about anything your mind can conjure up. The technology is going to impact everyone’s life in coming future and it’s important that we remain prepared for this.
- A crucial component of this preparation will be to
- ensure that IP norms are updated to protect intellectual property,
- more research is done to prevent negative health consequences.
- Further, governments across the world will also need to work together to prevent the misuse of the technology for creation of guns and weapons, which may threaten public safety.
- How does 3D printing technology work? List out the advantages and disadvantages of the technology. [5 marks, 100 words] [CSM 2013]
- “3D printing technology is going to have a huge impact on all the socio-economic sectors.” In this light suggest some steps that India needs to take to remain ready for this new technology. [10 marks, 150 words]