Is 3D Printing Only A New Technofad That Would End Up In Landfills? Think Again!

3D Printing the solution

It took reportedly 22 years to build the Taj Mahal. Imagine the Taj Mahal being built in a matter of weeks. Is it madness? Who knows, is 3D Printing the solution!

Suddenly there is a lot of talk about something called “3D Printing”. What is it – Is it a bird, a plane or, well a super machine?

Basically, it is a machine that applies layers of plastic or other pliable material which can flow through tubes to the precise designs or patterns using computer programs constructing a physical object.

Sounds COOL! But what is 3D doing here and what exactly is printed? And how does it become a three-dimensional physical object?

3D printing – the technology was invented in the 1980s. Till that time only two-dimensional designs or drawings were possible. Even with computer simulation, two-dimensional drawings were printed on paper or screen. With technology development, three-dimensional drawings/designs were made possible and these could be rotated on the computer screen to see the prototype from all angles. Rapid technological evolution has moved on from mere design to actual manufacture of these three-dimensional prototype designs.

A computer with a platform that can move up and down would be used as the base for the item to be manufactured. In addition, there would be one or more input tubes for the component material feed that can move horizontally and diagonally in all directions forming the other two nodes to complete the three-dimensional application. These three movements and the material feed would happen at great speeds millions of times as per the very minute design details placing layers upon layers of the input stuff on the mobile platform. With millions of three movements with input feeds the final object would be formed on the platform. It can be a small hand held prototype, it can be a toy, a car or even a full fledged house.   

Schools and colleges are proving to be the breeding grounds for innovation, an experimental and practical space which is embracing the new technology among both teachers and students.    

3D Printing at EMPI

With software like CAD (Computer Aided Design) students can witness their 3D model coming to life magically. A subject like geometry is becoming physical and biology becoming more bio allowing students to 3D print life size models to study cross-sectioned lung, heart, and brain. Teachers have a new tool to explore their students’ creativity and find the next – designers, artists, and scientists.

3D Printing – Making the Classroom Walls Transparent

College and school students around the world are teaming up to dig into the new opportunities. We can imagine a classroom where students are not working on hypothetical but real-time 3D printed designs. For instance, take the e-NABLE project started by a South African carpenter and an American prop maker. The two came together to make a prosthetic hand for a young boy. This project was so successful that the life-changing design was given free in order to benefit the world. Researchers from Wollongong University have successfully created a fabricated human skin with the help of 3D bio-plotter in Australia.

Not only meant for engineering students the technology is reaching out to the general masses. Artists are using 3D printers to design innovative and creative objects which are impossible to make. 3D printing will not only inspire students but also provoke creative ways of thinking.

There are endless possibilities for 3D printing

Doctors are designing living body parts. Architects are not only making 3D printed scale model but also 3D printed houses. From manufacturing to designers and from business to students. 3D printing – the additive manufacturing technique is taking the world by storm.

3D has dramatically come out of our theory and have become a reality. With tremendous opportunities in diverse industries, technology is becoming cheaper. Experts are predicting that 3D printers will be as common as our personal computers in homes in the coming years.

But what does it print? Well, it prints manufactured items direct from the drawings. Or, can you identify a better term for this if it is not printing!

Avnish John
Deputy Manager
Digital Marketing Dept.
EMPI Business School.

Edited by
A.V. K. Murthy,
Professor Cum Co-ordinator (Library & Publications)
EMPI Business School

About the Author

The EMPI with an objective of enhancing international exposure and learning has been endeavouring for joint working through academic fusion in areas such as Student and Faculty Exchange, Research and Development, Joint project/consulting work, International Seminars and Conferences through its network of Institutions all over the world.
  • Avishek Naha

    The educational environment is not only limited to institutional and
    schools. There are a great deal of other ways one can learn about
    additive manufacturing. One of the increasingly popular ones is to do it
    online. To supplement online studies, many companies offer discount
    deals for 3D printers and related tech. One such deal comes packaged with Coursera’s online classes.

    You can also teach yourself for free by watching YouTube videos. Many
    YouTubers and online tutors make a living off of assembling 3D printers
    and creating free tutorials.

    Metal printers are expensive and require some training before you can
    operate them. This requires in person workshops like those offered by 3DMT.
    Aerospace / Defense, Power Generation, and Electronic manufacturers
    attend two days of in-depth instruction and receive a detailed overview
    on 3D printing technologies, followed by an intensive, hands-on
    curriculum on how to use metal printers in prototyping and production.
    Courses like this are more professional and often cater to businesses as
    opposed to only individuals. They can be a great place to learn to use
    equipment that is ordinarily out of the regular consumer’s reach.