3D Print­ing: Print Out Your Own House in The Fu­ture!

When you are able to print out an air­craft within hours, you re­al­ize that 3D print­ing has huge po­ten­tial. But many peo­ple are still un­aware of what this phe­nom­e­non means, and what it’s ca­pa­ble of. We find out how 3D print­ing works, and where it’s avail­abl

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We find out how 3D print­ing works, and where it’s avail­able in In­dia

Imag­ine a printer that is ca­pa­ble of print­ing out a 3D ob­ject, from some­thing as sim­ple as a cup to some­thing as com­plex as a med­i­cal in­stru­ment. As crazy as it may sound ini­tially, this is ex­actly what 3D print­ing is ca­pa­ble of do­ing --build­ing ob­jects with a min­i­mum thick­ness of just 0.06 mm. Un­like other meth­ods of ma­chin­ing or saw­ing, which are sub­trac­tive pro­cesses, 3D print­ing is an ad­di­tive process. 3D prin­ters build an ob­ject layer by layer us­ing semi-solid ma­te­rial forms of plas­ter, poly­mer or metal.

Meth­ods of 3D print­ing avail­able

1) Fused De­po­si­tion Mod­el­ing (FDM) In this method, the tar­get ob­ject is formed by form­ing layer af­ter layer us­ing the hot melted ther­mo­plas­tic. A nozze ex­udes this spool of ma­te­rial in beads, and each layer is left to dry be­fore an­other layer is added to form the 3D ver­sion. All kinds of semi-liq­uid ma­te­ri­als in­clud­ing ABS plas­tics, poly lac­tic acid and even liq­uid choco­late can be used to build ob­jects with this method. This method of print­ing is one of the most pop­u­lar and low-cost ver­sions avail­able in the mar­ket. The com­pany Strata­sys was the pioneer of 3D prin­ters us­ing this tech­nol­ogy.

3) 2) Se­lec­tive Laser Sin­ter­ing (SLS) SLS uses a pow­er­ful laser to join gran­ules of pow­der to­gether to form the ob­ject layer by layer. Even this method is flex­i­ble with its in­gre­di­ents, as the pow­der used can be me­tal­lic, plas­tic or ce­ramic. How­ever, this is mostly an en­ter­prise-level method as it re­quires a pow­er­ful laser which is not com­mon for home use. Inkjet print­ing This process mim­ics the com­mon inkjet print­ing used at home and in of­fices, us­ing a mix of resins and binder ma­te­rial. A print head moves across a bed of pow­der


— Srini­vasan Viswanathan and ap­plies a bind­ing liq­uid in the shape of the cross sec­tion of the ob­ject. Just like other meth­ods, the ob­ject is built up in lay­ers. The unique thing about this method is that it al­lows cus­tom col­ors. Dig­i­tal Light Pro­cess­ing As the name sug­gests, this method uses the power of light to so­lid­ify a vat of liq­uid plas­tic by ex­pos­ing the liq­uid to light. This is an ex­tremely ac­cu­rate print­ing method as well. Each layer of the 3D ob­ject is so­lid­i­fied and the light is ex­posed to form the next layer, even­tu­ally re­sult­ing in the en­tire ob­ject.

Com­mer­cial vs con­sumer ap­pli­ca­tions

3D print­ing is mak­ing waves across many in­dus­tries. Last year, two stu­dents in the UK printed a com­plete drone that they fit­ted with elec­tron­ics and in­stru­men­ta­tion and flew (Source :http://bit.ly/nGdDV3). Air­bus is also mak­ing plans to ac­tu­ally print out planes us­ing gi­ant 3D prin­ters, if they scale up to that size (Source:http://on­forb.es/MjlvCO).

3D print­ing can also prove crit­i­cal to the health sec­tor, as they may ac­tu­ally be able to “print” out repli­cas of hu­man or­gans us­ing hu­man tis­sue! This tech­nol­ogy can also be used in the con­struc­tion and in­dus­trial en­gi­neer­ing busi­ness, as models and parts can be printed out us­ing ro­bust ma­te­ri­als to a high level of ac­cu­racy. Re­searchers are also pos­tu­lat­ing ways that “Con­tour Craft­ing” us­ing 3D prin­ters will be ca­pa­ble of build­ing func­tional houses within a day (Source:http://yhoo.it/OQp1pP) .

There are also many 3D prin­ters catered to­wards home users and hob­by­ists, who use them for var­i­ous pur­poses. They can be used for rapid pro­to­typ­ing in work­shops, where models and re­place­ment parts for domestic pur­poses can be built with­out wast­ing ma­te­rial. Peo­ple in ru­ral ar­eas can man­u­fac­ture ob­jects with­out ac­cess to the tools re­quired to use sub­trac­tive tech­niques such as saw­ing and drilling.

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