In recent years, computer aided design (CAD) 3D printing technology has become well-known and widespread. As 3D printers and scanners rapidly move away from being the subject of sci-fi fantasies and toward being attainable home technology, you might find yourself wondering, “What is CAD 3D printing?” Here are the basics you need to know about 3D printing and the way it is revolutionizing production.
WHAT IS CAD 3D PRINTING AND WHAT CAN IT DO?
In 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, a digital blueprint for a three dimensional object is sent to a printer, which “prints” the object by layering materials. 3D printing allows for many of the products we use every day to be manufactured more quickly and efficiently than traditional manufacturing techniques.
Polymer is the most common material 3D printers use to create an object, but most other materials can also be used. Simple trinkets and toys are no longer the only thing 3D printers can create. Additive manufacturing is becoming increasingly popular in the production of food, and the medical field has been utilizing 3D printing for years. Medical scientists are even experimenting with the possibility of printing transplantable organs made from layering live human cells. In China, massive CAD 3D printers printed five houses in one day, at a cost of around $5000 apiece.
Virtually any object that can be replicated and created by the layering of materials could eventually be printed by 3D printers.
HOW DOES ARE THE BLUEPRINTS FOR A 3D PRINTER CREATED?
Blueprints for 3D printers are stored as digital files that can be read by the printer.
Sometimes, an existing object is replicated using a 3D scanner. The scanner creates an accurate blueprint by using one of several techniques to scan an existing object with light or lasers and create an accurate blueprint. 3D scanners can be small enough to fit on your computer desk or big enough to replicate a house.
Other blueprints are created with 3D modeling software. Like 3D scanners, modeling software can be very simple or very complex. Programs available on the market right now range from free open-source programs that can be used by anyone at home, to complicated industrial-grade software used by serious manufacturers and engineers.
WHAT IS CAD 3D PRINTING AS FAR AS AVERAGE TECHNOLOGY CONSUMERS ARE CONCERNED?
3D printing has been available to hobbyists at home since 2011. Use among average consumers is on the rise as affordable home 3D printers can now be bought for less than $500. With free modeling software and simple, inexpensive scanners also readily available, 3D printing technology is rapidly becoming common home technology.
Consumers are able to purchase CAD files of blueprints to use with their home 3D printers if they are not capable of designing their own. Similarly, CAD enthusiasts who do not own 3D printers can inexpensively hire services to print the CAD files they create. Websites for home enthusiasts to sell the objects or files they print are also becoming more popular.
Some advocates for CAD 3D printing predict that commerce will be revolutionized as consumers will eventually be able to print many of the products they buy in their own homes.