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What Is A 3D Printer? We Shed Some Light On A Little Talked About Technology

BERLIN, GERMANY - JUNE 15: Ilan Moyer, a graduate student in Mechanical Engineering at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology (MIT), demonstrates a portable, 3D printer that is making a ring out of plastic at the BMW Guggenheim Lab in Prenzlauer Berg district on the first day it was open to the public on June 15, 2012 in Berlin, Germany. The Lab offers visitors interactive projects meant for creating accessible and cheap solutions to issues in the urban environment. The Lab opened following controversy, as leftists had threatened to vandalize the structure should it open in the district of Kreuzberg. The Lab will be open in Berlin until July 29 before it moves on to India. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Sean Gallup, Getty Images

Are you just hearing about 3D printing and wondering what it is?

Another glimpse into the future, and actually, to some extent the present. This technology is not widely used in households, but it will be someday.

The 3D Printer, or additive manufacturing, doesn’t necessarily print a piece of paper that you read in 3D, although it could be. It’s more of a machine that will print/create a 3-demensional object using powder, paper and other production elements. Apparently the powder would be heated and melted into a solid….so, for example, you could print the shell of a remote control. That’s just one thought that comes to mind, however, very basic. The  possibilities are endless.

And, you might be surprised to know the first 3D Printer was created in the 1980’s, according to website The site outlines different kinds of 3D printing and commercial applications, along with some good video clips.


Wikipedia describes it this way:

The term additive manufacturing refers to technologies that create objects through a sequential layering process. Objects that are manufactured additively can be used anywhere throughout the product life cycle, from pre-production (i.e. rapid prototyping) to full-scale production (i.e. rapid manufacturing), in addition to tooling applications and post-production customization….

Additive manufacturing takes virtual blueprints from computer aided design (CAD) or animation modeling software and “slices” them into digital cross-sections for the machine to successively use as a guideline for printing. Depending on the machine used, material or a binding material is deposited on the build bed or platform until material/binder layering is complete and the final 3D model has been “printed.” It is a WYSIWYG process where the virtual model and the physical model are almost identical.

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