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The History and Growth of 3D Printing

Discuss about the 3D Printing Techniques in Medical Setting.

The 3D printing uses the digital technology and these printers were initially manufactured by China. These printers came in the late 1980’s and ever since then they have been increasingly used all over the world. In the beginning of the 21st century, as the digital technology became more popular and advanced, the growth in the sales of the 3D printers was greatly observed. The sales of these printers increased in various parts of the world where they were used for new and innovative purposes. Gradually, as the sales and the demand grew, the costs of these printers fell immensely since they were first manufactured. Some of the purposes for which these machines were used were in industrial uses, architecture, jewelry, aerospace, engineering, medical, education, information systems and many others (Griffith, 2012).

3D printing is the technology to create materials and objects using a sequential layers technique. The materials which are produced by using the layering process can be anywhere in the product life cycle. However, the subtractive methods of manufacturing objects can be used as traditional methods in manufacturing. 3D printing was invented by Charles W. Hull (Chuck). In the mid 1980’s when it was invented, it used a stereolithography technique. This technique used a UV laser which was shined in the vat of an ultraviolet-sensitive photopolymer, and then it traced the object so that it was created on the surface. Chuck also founded a company which was called 3D Systems. The company made stereolithography machines which expensive machines of over $100,000 used in commercial techniques. 3D Systems is still operating today and now it sells the 3D printers of advanced technology (Wang et al., 2017). There is a variety of printers that are manufactured using different advanced technologies ranging from entry-level kits to the advanced commercial systems. The company also provides on-demand services manufacturing parts for business users. Many businesses and industries use the 3D printers and they need the machines to be up to date and maintained.

There are many benefits of 3D printing which is why it is immensely used in the world today. Many designers use the 3D printing techniques to rapidly design the concepts and turn them into 3D models or rapid prototyping. It also allows for the rapid design changes which enables the designers to carry out their work rapidly and smoothly using the up to date technologies. The manufacturers are also allowed to produce the products rapidly on demand rather than on large run, which also increases the management of the sufficient amount of inventory and reduces the warehouse space (Tack et al., 2016). 3D printing techniques can help the people living in remote locations to fabricate the objects that would be inaccessible to them otherwise. 3D printing must be a onetime cost because once the designers and businesses have bought the machinery for 3D printing; they can save a lot of material and money which is used in subtractive techniques of manufacturing. The material in this technique is drilled, cut and shaved off; hence raw material can be wasted. 3D printing is preferred also because it allows the objects to change the nature of manufacturing for example by allowing the customers to download the files used in printing 3D objects in their own homes including electronic devices.

How 3D Printing Works

Not just these industries, but the aviation and automotive industries also largely use the 3D printing techniques to produce parts. Moreover, artists use these printers to make sculptures and architects make models for their projects. Archaeologists make 3D scans of fragile artifacts and then print the copy of the object. In the same way the paleontologists duplicate, such as a skeleton of the dinosaur for display. 3D printing is used by the physicians to make hearing aids, prosthetics, bone drafts, artificial teeth and they can also replicate models using 3D techniques of organs, and internal structures of the body shown in CT scans to prepare for surgeries (Jiayi, 2013). 

3D printers can make many models and prototypes from the computer-aided design drawings. Designers largely use these printers to create models, prototypes and also the final products. There are many items that come in the range of these products. These items are shoe designs, wax castings for jewelry making, furniture designs, tools, gift items and toys. There are several other items used in the daily life of people which are produced using 3D printing techniques. This helps the designers to make new designs, rapidly produce them and make them attractive for the customers.

In medical technology, the 3D printers are greatly used to make designs and objects for specific purposes. These 3D printers can also lay down the layers of cells in order to create the artificial organs like kidneys and blood vessels. Also in forensic laboratories the 3D printing techniques are immensely used. It can be used to replicate a bullet which is inside a victim. 3D printers are also used to print electronic circuits on objects such as labels, cardboards, or fabrics. Printing electronics is combined with the 3D printers to allow the layered printing techniques on circuitry devices. This is a great combination which is advancing day by day and will soon be able to help the future generation in printing gadgets at a great level.  

The 3D printers may also be used to prepare food items such as in liquid form such as cheese, chocolate or icing. 3D food printers are also being increasingly used in various companies. 3D printers can let doctors print a heart or kidney one day by internal structures printing but not probably cost effective. However the ease of creating food and medical items can greatly allow the 3D printers to take over in the near future in restaurants, food manufacturing industries and domestic kitchens. 3D printing techniques have been giving way to innovative and new techniques in every industry (Li et al., 2016).

Benefits of 3D Printing


3D printers in the industrial fields have existed since the printers were first created. These printers have been used for different research and prototyping purposes. For industrial usage, these printers are usually large heavy machines unlike those machines that are for homely use. These machines in industries use powdered metals, plastics, cartridges, casting media of paper for rapid prototyping. The advancement in the rapid prototyping technologies in industries have led to many other developments in the same field. The technology helps the materials to be appropriate for the final manufacture and moreover it has helped to introduce the materials that are directly manufactured as finished components. 3D printing is advantageous because it manufactures a small number of parts in cost effective measures. Rapid manufacturing is a relatively new process for manufacturing which has been combined with the 3D printing and identified as the next level technology in the industrial purposes (Murphy & Atala, 2014).

Mass customization is also a method which is highly used in the companies to ensure that the 3D printing techniques are being used efficiently in their productions. Many companies have initiated the services for the customers where they can customize their objects by using web based customization software that is simple and friendly (Hodgdon et al., 2018). After the customization the company would use the 3D printing techniques to print those unique objects. An example of such customization is in the mobile phones such as Nokia which has released the 3D designs for its cases that are customized by the customers themselves. They can customize their own phones and cases having 3D objects printed on them.

  • Aviation and automotive industries such as Toyota and Nissan also largely use the 3D printing techniques to produce parts for their different products.
  • Moreover, artists use 3D printers to make sculptures and architects make models for their projects.
  • Archaeologists make 3D scans of fragile artifacts and then print the copy of the object.
  • In the same way the paleontologists duplicate, such as a skeleton of the dinosaur for display.
  • 3D printing is used by the physicians to make hearing aids, prosthetics, bone drafts, artificial teeth and they can also replicate models using 3D techniques of organs, and internal structures of the body shown in CT scans to prepare for surgeries

3D printing techniques are advancing day by day but yet they have not been advances enough that they be used for mass production. Currently their speed is slow and this limits their usage. There are many tools used to overcome this problem such as by using machines that combine with printers and increase their speed (Cho et al., 2018). This can be to print the multiple colors, multiple prints at the same time and using different polymers. The aim is to increase the printing speed while printing multiple objects and using less cost of capital than two machines as a single controller may be used. New printers also offer two print heads in order to increase the speed and production quantity at one time.

The 3D printing technology is largely being used worldwide. It initiated in America but it has a widespread range of its machinery and usage in China and Australia. Engineers and industrialists have used the new technology in China as the revolutionary 3D printing manufacturing was advancing. In order to initiate the advanced technology of 3D printing all over a China, many universities such as Beijing University is working on a research which would examine the industry sources that are a breakthrough for the 3D printing techniques to produce large components for aircrafts. The engineer professor Wang Huaming also won an award from the State Council for the efforts in technological achievement (Custer, 2013).

Applications of 3D Printing in Various Industries


The achievement and recognition of this work was therefore the encouraging factor for the businesses in China to use the 3D printing techniques. Recently, because of the new technology the businesses have seen a rise in the stock prices. With more skill and advancement, it is proved that this 3D printing and designing techniques can be used in building planes, cars and even human organs. There are also predictions by futurists that by 2020, 3D printers will also be able to make home-cooked meals. However, in reality the 3D printing systems have limited applications and engineers say that for now the technology is working at its fullest. But the revolutionary manufacturing is too early to be predicted (Custer, 2013).

3D printing started in United States by Chuck in 1980’s. Later scientists from all over the world contributed in its advancement by using different new techniques with it. Based on the work and ideas of Chuck, the scientists carried out different ways in which the 3D printing could have been used effectively. Sooner in Britain the technology started to be used in making designs for footwear for football players with special crafts on them. This set out the worldwide roar of using 3D printing in commercial industries. This gave way to a variety of new applications. Moreover 3D printing has started being used in the mechanical purposes for building aircraft components in China and weapons. Alongside, the Australian industries have also adopted the 3D printing techniques greatly (Gu et al., 2015).

3D printers take designs from the computer and apply them on the real world objects. 3D scanners are also used to scan an object or design and create a 3D model of it then print it on the material using a 3D printer. The technology has entered the markets of Australia and tends to fully develop the industrial world through its competence and affordability. It can be proved as life changing for many of the businesses, commercial purposes and even domestic uses. At present it might seem to be difficult to understand the true uses of the technology and the widespread of uses that are predicted (INITION, 2012).    

3D printing can greatly change the economy of China and Australia due its creative uses and affordability. These printing technologies can disrupt the manufacturing sector especially the small scale industries which produce plastic products such as hangers, buttons, combs etc. once the 3D printers become affordable and popular, these objects could easily be replaced by the 3D printed objects. The economy of China can totally change once the prices of 3D printing reduce. Moreover, 3D printing could bring huge changes in the regulations of the internet usage as there will be controls exercised on what people are allowed to print and what not (Jiayi, 2013).

The Role of 3D Printing in Rapid Manufacturing and Mass Customization

Tightened regulations are important because in the future the 3D technology can also be used to create guns and their ammunition which are illegal in China. Thus controlled regulations are very important to make sure that China’s economy is under control and regulations. Knives, containers and explosives may also be created which has to be controlled. However, 3D printing in China and Australia can bring a very positive and productive change in their economy and overall systems. The 3D printers can repair anything from cars to medical issues of human bodies (Custer, 2013).

In addition to the application of the technology in a variety of sectors in the world, architecture is another field that be boosted by the technology. The construction industry is characterized by the use of some machines but mainly labor with some tools for the purpose establishing a particular need. The building blocks are assembled together according to the architect's specifications to come up with the desired structure (AlAli, Griffin & Butler, 2015). The direction of advancement in the technology could allow the avoidance of the pre-production stage in the construction industry and allow for fabrication of the physical model by the printer. It could also help on the factor of time saving when it comes to the creation of the 3D model of the structures. The 3D printing could allow a faster creation of the models with improved precision through the use of laser beams. The models created would help in the actual construction process with the necessary mistakes noted and corrected using the model. Furthermore, the technological advancement could allow, or creation of enormous printers that using the desired material can print an entire building and thus easily create an estate (Wong & Materials Research Society, 2004).

I believe that the 3D printing technology is likely to take over all the world rather than only China and Australia. China is working on the advancements and has emerged as the leader globally, leaving United States behind as well. About a decade ago no engineer or scientists could have imagined that the 3D printer would be so commonly and easily used for many purposes. Today, the future is predictable for many of the scientists as they can predict the future unbelievable uses of the 3D printers. However, if this technology is not abused, it could lead to a revolutionary change across the world helping in industries, businesses, hospitals, computer graphics, designs, domestic purposes and several others (Griffith, 2012). The types of 3D printers are also very important to consider. Although much advancement has already been made but the use of heavy printers are only in industries and hospitals whereas light printers are used in homes and small businesses. What kind of material is being printed is also dependent upon the size of the printer. 3D printers may not be available at every citizen’s house but it is surely available in all the printing shops where people scan and print as their business service.

Conclusion 

In conclusion, the 3D printing technology is unfolding as new discoveries are made day in day out. The future of the 3D printers is promising, and work is going to be much easier. It is also going to improve the health and research industry. The versatility associated with the 3D printing technological can be helpful in boosting different sectors of the economy. The relevant authorities should pay keen interest in the technology and invest more on the research to better the technology. Also, rules and strict regulation are mandatory to ensure that the technology is well used and not used to disrupt the harmony in the society.

References

AlAli, A. B., Griffin, M. F., & Butler, P. E. (2015). Three-dimensional printing surgical applications. Eplasty, 15, 1. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.cqu.edu.au/docview/1706575101?accountid=10016

Cho, W., Job, A. V., Chen, J., & Baek, J. H. (2018). A review of current clinical applications of three-dimensional printing in spine surgery. Asian Spine Journal, 12(1), 171-177. doi:https://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.cqu.edu.au/10.4184/asj.2018.12.1.171

Custer C. 2013. How will 3D printing change China. Assessed online on March 12, https://www.techinasia.com/3d-printing-change-china/

Griffith C. 2012. Entry-level 3D printers are coming to market for about $1000. Assessed online on October 23, https://www.theaustralian.com.au/australian-it/exec-tech/d-modelling-can-be-a-precarious-process/story-e6frgazf-1226500969291

Gu, Q., Hao, J., Lu, Y., Wang, L., Wallace, G. G., & Zhou, Q. (2015). Three-dimensional bio-printing. Science China.Life Sciences, 58(5), 411-419. doi:https://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.cqu.edu.au/10.1007/s11427-015-4850-3

Hodgdon, T., Danrad, R., Patel, M. J., Smith, S. E., Richardson, M. L., Ballard, D. H., . . . Decker, S. J. (2018). Logistics of three-dimensional printing: Primer for radiologists. Academic Radiology, 25(1), 40-51. doi:https://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.cqu.edu.au/10.1016/j.acra.2017.08.003

INITION. 2012. 3D Printing in Australia is on the up! Assessed online on December 03, https://thinglab.com.au/news/up-printer-australia

Jiayi L. 2013. China commercializes 3D printing in aviation. Assessed online on February 18, https://www.zdnet.com/cn/china-commercializes-3d-printing-in-aviation-7000011377/

Li, J., Chen, M., Fan, X., & Zhou, H. (2016). Recent advances in bioprinting techniques: Approaches, applications and future prospects. Journal of Translational Medicine, 14doi:https://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.cqu.edu.au/10.1186/s12967-016-1028-0

Murphy, S. V., & Atala, A. (2014). 3D bioprinting of tissues and organs. Nature Biotechnology, 32(8), 773-85. doi:https://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.cqu.edu.au/10.1038/nbt.2958

Tack, P., Victor, J., Gemmel, P., & Annemans, L. (2016). 3D-printing techniques in a medical setting: A systematic literature review. Biomedical Engineering Online, 15 doi:https://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.cqu.edu.au/10.1186/s12938-016-0236-4

Wang, S., Wang, L., Liu, Y., Ren, Y., Jiang, L., Li, Y., . . . Li, H. (2017). 3D printing technology used in severe hip deformity. Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine, 14(3), 2595. doi:https://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.cqu.edu.au/10.3892/etm.2017.4799

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