It seems like we’re absolutely captivated by the opportunities offered in three-dimensional media lately. 3D movies are sweeping through the theaters, giving us eyestrain and trying to approximate the successes of Avatar. Now there are televisions being designed and advertised to play those films—also in 3D. The 3D craze has even hit in the printing industry as a long used technology is finally becoming accessible outside a specific manufacturing market. Yes, that’s right. 3D printing is beginning to make it big.
What Is It?
Three-dimensional printing is actually exactly what it sounds like: the act of transferring a digital object to a physical, dimensional one. Traditionally, it has been the province of highly specialized printers owned and used in the manufacturing industry. They’re generally used to make prototypes for items like cars and airplanes. Now, however, they are becoming smaller and cheaper to design and sell. This change has allowed the 3D printer to make it big on the consumer market. Access ranges from websites that allow you to design and order objects for 3D printing to hobbyist kits that you can put together yourself to expensive warehoused sized machines that you can purchase outright.
How Does It Work
3D printing is actually a fairly simple concept from start to finish. Three-dimensional modeling software on the computer allows you to either design or adapt an object for fabrication. When you hit print, the information is sent to your 3D printer where it begins to print, not in ink, but in plastic. Instead of producing an image on a page, this printer layers polymers on its bed in a precise pattern. It literally builds the object you have instructed it to make. This type of digital printing offers the consumer the opportunity to literally make anything.