With 3D printers being touted as one of the greatest inventions of the last century, some business experts predict that we will soon be going through a third industrial revolution  due to the ease of manufacturing with this new technology.

There has been a lot of press coverage for the 3 dimensional printers’ ability to produce artificial organs, prosthetics, musical instruments and also architectural models. However, few people have a clear understanding of how they work.


How do 3D printers work?

The process of 3D printing starts with a computer aided drawing (CAD). This detailed plan is sent to the 3D printer that will use thousands of layers to produce the item in 3D. One of the most fascinating facts about the 3D printer is that it can take a product and rapidly prototype it. This completely revolutionises the time and cost intensive process of manufacturing.

The short term future promises that they will become a part of our everyday life with architectural offices using them to create 3D models of their designs. Even dentistry offices are making use of them to produce dental implants and bridges on the fly.

Although many may think that 3D printers are confined to using plastic to create their models, they can use more than this. It’s possible to use blends of glue, ceramic, metal, resin, sawdust and microfibers in addition to human tissue to create organs and even cloth. Tightly focused nozzles expel whatever material is loaded into storage in a printer cartridge.

The benefits of rapid prototyping

One of the reasons that three-dimensional printers are so popular is because they are able to save time when it comes to rapid prototyping. What used to take a number of weeks to produce can now be created quickly and this translates into business cost savings as many hours of manual work can be skipped. 3D models from these printers prove to be far more accurate than those that are made by hand.

New possibilities for 3D printing are emerging every day, and they are likely to catapult us into a world that looks very different from the one we have today. One where new products are being created rapidly due to the shortened prototyping stage and one where parts can be made on demand.

Read more about 3D printing and rapid prototyping.