What you should know about 3D Printing

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3D printed frogs by Creative Tools

3D printed frogs by Creative Tools

For anyone who’s a little behind on the times, it’s official: 3D printing is an actual thing.

3D printing is already present all over the medical and science fields, and is now showing up in car manufacturing, home construction, and, believe it or not, fashion.

This is a trend that’s poised for takeover, and next year will  be a revolutionary year in the world of 3D printing. Here are 10 things to get you up to speed with what’s going on.

1. First, the definition:

3d printing uses ink jet technology to protoform parts, made up of a silica based powder and binder. Together these fuse to form a strong composite material.It works by printing cross sections of a 3D model in increments of 0.05mm. Once the sectional view is printed, the print bed moves down and the new section is printed laminating them together. This process is repeated at a rate of 2-4 layers per minute until the part is complete.  – Proto Form Rapid Prototyping 

 2. President Obama is on board with the revolution. We can’t forget that during the State of the Union address in February, the President said 3D printing could bring a wave of new tech jobs into the United States economy. The Department of Defense authorized a $30 million grant to establish a new manufacturing institute in Youngstown known as the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII).

3. NASA is also on board. The space program has partnered with a company based in Austin, Texas to explore the possibility of 3D printing food for astronauts while they are on missions in outer space.  In 2014 NASA also plans to send a 3D printer on missions with astronauts to allow them to print tools and parts to make repairs.

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3D printed cheeseburger by Creative Tools (not edible!)

4. A father in Massachusetts used a 3D printer to print a prosthetic hand for his son.

5. Scientists in San Francisco 3D printed human livers that survived and functioned normally for 40 days. 

6. Worldwide shipments of 3D printers priced less than $100,000 are expected to grow 49 percent in 2013 to reach a total of 56,507 units, according to leading information technology research and advisory company Gartner.

7. According to the Huffington Post, federal employees working in the Bureau of  Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives actually used blueprints they found online to 3D print a gun that has the potential to killas it can penetrate several inches of human tissue and a human skull.

8. Rolls Royce is going to use 3D printing to manufacture parts for its jet engines.

9. A company is in the works to manufacture 3D printed disposable panties.

10. Feeling spendy? You can order your own 3D printer for the affordable price of $2800 from Makerbot, rumored to be the leading manufacturer of 3D printers right now. Don’t worry, they have a cheaper version for $2200. Makerbot has also partnered with DonorsChoose.org to help teachers get 3D printers for their classrooms.

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