WHAT IS 3D PRINT­ING?

Ottawa Citizen - - CITY - Bruce Deachman bdeach­man@post­media.com

Also known as ad­di­tive man­u­fac­tur­ing, 3D print­ing is a process by which a three-di­men­sional prod­uct is made via a plot­ter that moves along x, y and z axes, adding ma­te­rial — com­monly any num­ber of plas­tics, poly­mers or met­als — as it builds layer upon layer.

The process dates back to the early 1980s, and on­go­ing de­vel­op­ments have added greatly to the types of ma­te­rial that can be used and the speed of the print­ers, al­though the lat­ter are largely still too slow for mass pro­duc­tion. Be­cause de­signs can be eas­ily changed with­out re­tool­ing a ma­chine, 3D print­ing has be­come a favoured tech­nol­ogy of in­dus­tries where small num­bers of spe­cial­ized items are re­quired, in­clud­ing med­i­cal and aero­space ap­pli­ca­tions. In re­cent years, ad­di­tive man­u­fac­tur­ing has been used to print food, cloth­ing and even houses.

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