3D Printing: The True Power of Creation
From food to prosthetic limbs, 3D printing has expanded the boundaries of customization, without expensive and gigantic equipment.
3D printing, or Additive Manufacturing (AM) is simply the process of giving physical form to 3-dimensional computer models. The fundamental use of this technology was to acquire specialized parts for complex machinery without having to use large-scale industrial processes. This made it quite popular in the medical, aviation and automation industries, leading to the creation of personalized prosthetic limbs, dental and other medical implants. The major advantage of this technology was the ability to inexpensively render and test concept prototypes of varying materials, from small parts to the complete body of a Formula 1 car.
Today it has broken ground in commercial manufacturing, with the likes of Adidas and Nike making customized athletic footwear in terms of style, design and comfort. Same is true for the fashion industry but what is not so novel is the fact that 3D printers are being used to make food for consumption. A special 3D printer by the name of “Foodini“, squeezes out ingredients (in the form of extracts) from capsules to create a consumable dish. This may be the future of food consumption as it allows precise manipulation of fats, fiber, protein etc. while preserving the same delicious taste.
The actual creation is done by using additive processes, meaning the printer creates the actual object by piling or adding a large number of thin horizontal layers on top of each other in order to construct the object. The object creation is carried out by a three stage process.
Modeling, where a 3D model of the object is created, usually with the help of CAD (computer aided design) software or an existing physical object can be scanned by a 3D scanner to generate a 3D model.
Slicing, using slicing software the 3D model is literally sliced horizontally into layers. This data is then sent to the 3D printer.
Finishing, the printer receives the data and merely constructs the object by literally creating and stacking layer after layer until the object is completed.
The material from which the object is to be created is of your choosing, but with each different material there can be many different printing techniques involved in the finishing stage, and even some specialized 3D printers are required to make an object out of a specific material.
This technology can nowadays be availed by those without 3D printers as well, for many companies offer to carry out the slicing and finishing stages, all they require are 3D models to be created, which customers can send them via their online websites and receive their desired product in the mail. Print 3D Pakistan is one such company that offers these services and aims to spread the wonder of 3D printing throughout Pakistan.
3D printing has enhanced man’s ability to not only create objects but also manipulate the attributes of the raw materials that constitute them; giving us food that fulfills all our dietary needs while still being delicious, customized apparels for specific and even extreme weather conditions without giving us any reason to complain about the size and allowing us to literally give form to our imagination. 3D printing has already advanced our technology into unchartered waters; it won’t be long before everything we use will have been made by a 3D printer.