3D Printers : A real game changer

Let’s be honest with ourselves, laziness and impatience, both have been an inseparable characteristic of humans from primitive times. We all have dreamt of  something  that will do all our time-consuming and tedious tasks in a blink of an eye. Well, what do you know, man also has a knack of making his dreams and imaginations come true. A perfect example of that are the 3D printers. 3D printing is already changing the way we produce our objects. From tools to toys, clothing and even body parts! With the right blueprints, this fella can make it all.
3D printing , also known as Additive Manufacturing(AM) is process in which an object is created by adding materials layer by layer. These objects can be of almost any shape or geometry and are produced from a 3D model or other electronic data source. A 3D printer is  basically a type of industrial robot  which is allowing technicians and engineers build complex parts of all most everything in a fraction of a time and cost.

Maker-Bot 3D printers, are also open for home appliances and are extremely consumer friendly.

The whole process of 3D printers can be distributed into 3 major sections. They are :


The first step of 3D printing is creating a blueprint of the design which has to be in a  STL(Stereolithography) file. You can use modeling softwares like Blender or you can visit websites like websites like Thingiverse or Shapeways to find other users have 3D modeled as well as design your own models.
The manual modeling process of preparing geometric data for 3D computer graphics is similar to plastic arts such as sculpting.3D scanning is a perfect example of manual modeling where a sample is used to regenerate clones of the model object. 3D scanning is a process of collecting digital data on the shape and appearance of a real object, creating a digital model based on it.


Once you have finished designing your model, it’s time to send it to the printer. Before printing a 3D model from an STL file, it must first be examined for errors. In fact, most of the CAD softwares produced errors in the STL files: holes, faces normals, self-intersections, noise shells or manifold errors.
As you can see the 3D object is created through layering where the printer will add one one layer of the object at a time until you have a fully formed structure. The 3D printers eject hot liquid in the frame according to the blueprints which instanly cools and allows the printer to create another layer of material on top the previous one. Some printers like the MakerBot Replicator have renewable bioplastics pool in the back of the device almost like a string. When the printer receives data it pulls the material through a tube and deploys on a frame creating perpetuous layers of the object.

Though the printer-produced resolution is sufficient for many applications, printing a slightly oversized version of the desired object in standard resolution and then removing material with a higher-resolution subtractive process can achieve greater precision.

Additive Manufacturing(AM) process step by step

The most commonly used material for 3D printing is plastic. But the use of other materials allow for the creation of pretty amazing products beyond simple tools and toys. One of the more interesting and new areas of 3D printing is printed food. 3D printed food is becoming very popular and additive manufacturing has allowed for the creation of pretty intricate treats. One of the first projects that promised 3D food for every kitchen was Foodini.  It was successfully introduced by Natural Machine on Kickstarter in 2014. Natural Machines’ brainchild will be an open capsule model, meaning the consumer prepares and places fresh ingredients into Foodini and the machine will do the rest. They say that Foodini is capable of printing all types of real, fresh, nutritious foods, from savory to sweet.

Some of the most amazing creations using 3D printers. Photo Courtesy: Sabiha Anzum

In the medical world, 3D printers are making ground-breaking contributions. The docters are now testing regenerative medicine. By using a patients cell doctors can 3D print small body parts like ears and noses. Some surgeons have tested 3D printed organs for transplant recently. Prosthetic limbs, supports are now being manufactured on a large scale changing millions of lives.

3D printed materials get the most exposure in aviation, civil and electrical engineering. Complex and crucial parts of vehicles, houses and gadgets are getting made both efficiently and economically. Recently giant 3D printers in China printed 10 houses in just one day and at a cost of less than five thousand dollars per house proving just how fast and cost efficient can be. A few weeks ago General Electric announced that the FAA (U.S. Federal Aviation Administration) cleared their first 3D printed part to fly. Airplane fuel consumption could be reduced by 6.4%, and could potentially reduce fossil fuel dependency and greenhouse gas emissions through using these parts.

To wrap things up, this century has gifted us with numerous blessings and 3D printers are certainly one the best of them. When we look back maybe it’s the gadget to which we’ll refer and say “Son, sit down and lemme tell you a great tale of how we changed the world.”
Like every other discovery man has already managed to make destructive use of this mighty invention. But its to us and our morality to safeguard and make proper use of this precious gift to mankind. So, let’s build tomorrow.

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