Architectural designers have relied on 3D design programs for decades to explain and sell their ideas to clients. The infamous “fly-through” allows a customer to not just visualize, but to imagine themselves within a virtual space to better understand the structure. With the rise of 3D printing, architecture is about to get another tool to better present itself and the innovations of its designers to potential clients.
A picture is nice, but hard evidence is better
To virtually depict a site and structure helps customers to visualize the idea, but it doesn’t do much to connect them to a future reality. It is why architects still rely on walking sites with a client to explain the ideas, people need a reality they can interact with physically to understand new concepts. Using a 3D printer, the architect can quickly make a model that the client can hold and examine. This will help sway a client toward a design better than any video walk through.
Making models has been a standard in the architectural industry since it began. It is a time consuming and expensive process. The ability to transfer a digital floor plan into a 3D model using a printer will save enormous amounts of time, money and effort. Best of all, it will be easier to reprint a model that incorporates client changes so they can do a comparison between different ones. By being able to line up a series of models for review, the client can see the impact of the progression of changes and make a more informed decision, meaning fewer changes during the building stage.
While everyone is wondering about how 3D printing is going to revolutionize everything from product development to crafts, the fact remains that there is a greater chance of the technology going wrong. Don’t expect that the error will come from thousands of people downloading and printing untraceable weapons, it will be a much more mundane failure than that. Given the example of how businesses have failed to utilize the potential of the Internet, it is not an unfounded worry to assume they will get it wrong when it comes to using 3D printing.
Teaching a New Dog Old Tricks
The Internet has always held great promise for businesses but has rarely proven to be a huge success with increasing their profit and standing. Why? Rather than adapt business and marketing strategies to a new technology, the business culture has spent well over two decades trying to make a new technology adapt to old ways of doing things. Most websites are little more than a digital version of a print flyer and online consumer interaction does not take advantage of the immediacy and capability ofcommunication the Internet offers.
Will 3D Printing Go the Same Way?
Already there are articles galore about how to use 3D printing to produce flyers and newsletters. In other words, where the technology has evolved, the business approach hasn’t. Businesses need to invest in developing new marketing approaches that are suited to the new technology rather than just push the same approach into a 3D format for its potential to be realised.
One thing that the advent of the home laser and ink jet printer did was give small businesses and individuals the ability to mass produce printed material affordably. Many businesses are looking at the developing technology of 3D printing and wondering if the same type of result will eventually be achieved. Some people are sceptical that there will ever be a cost and time effective 3D printer developed that can mass produce an object, others are withholding their judgement until more time has allowed for evolution of the system.
Should it even try?
One argument against investing in trying to develop 3D printing towards mass production is that it would divert development from the path of allowing for infinite variation. One way to put this concern in context is to consider the evolution of graphic software packages. When they were initially developed, they offered a great deal of options for control of the design. However, to allow for the greatest number of consumers to use the software, they had to begin to limit or hide the menu options to simplify the programs use. That simplified program style no longer allows for power designers to use the technology to its utmost, but it does allow for everyone to upload, crop a picture and add text at will.
Can it be both?
There is a potential for two different styles of 3D printer to evolve, the prototype dedicated model and the production model. It would take a commitment of funding by a companyto bring either to its fullest potential.
While the rest of the world was caught up in the romance of the first 3D gun being made and fired, several people have recently begun to use the technology in ways that are transforming people’s lives. Richard Van As, of South Africa, is one of them.
Personal Tragedy becomes Innovation
When Van As lost two fingers and damaged two more in an accident in the home workshop, his solution to his rehabilitation was to design a prosthetic device for himself. Initially, he worked in the traditional method of carefully crafting the pieces by hand, but inspired by a video about 3D printing, he sought out a partner in production. The result, an affordable prosthetic device custom fitted to the person. Since, he has helped to create and fit other people with affordable and high functioning prosthetics.
Lowering the Cost of Care
Prosthetic devices and rehabilitative therapies are out of reach of most people in the world because of their cost. The 3D printer stands to change all of that by allowing for low cost production of prosthesis. Unlike other low cost options, ones printed can be custom fitted to the user without changing the price. With most prosthetic devices, moulds have to be cast or the individual pieces handmade, making it a laborious process. With 3D printing, everything can be designed digitally and modified at will before being created with the click of a button. This can transform the lives of the disabled across the globe.
Just as home based die cutting printers and laminators revolutionized the craft industry, will 3D printing open up a whole new era of home based businesses? A look at popular gift sites, like Etsy, that feature unique gifts made by crafts persons would lead you to believe so. While the technology may not be affordable right now, it is only a matter of time before it becomes a home craft option.
To design and build
Using sketches, scanners, 2D and 3D programs to create designs, a craftsperson can then utilize a 3D printer to create their object. The 3D Printer builds an object in layers, extruding minute a minute thickness of material one atop another layer until the object exists in space. It is not a fast process, but then again, no craft creation is.
Ideal craft applications
The holiday ornament is an ideal craft application for 3D printing. Ornaments are small enough to make the printing process less time consuming and the intricacy of the design can be maintained by the detail of the printing. One aspect of 3D printing that has not been adequately explored is how to manage the colour of the object produced. With an emphasis on prototype production, colour schemes have not been a high priority. As more and more artisans begin to use the technology, the ability to colour and blend is bound to increase. It would not be a surprise to see more open source graphic design programs develop for 3D printing as a result.
As the reality of 3D printing moves closer to becoming a viable option for personal and business use, it is steadily going to transform manufacturing by changing one of the most traditional practices of development – prototype production. Usually, a prototype is the result of a long effort to design and model a product in a 2D or virtual environment. Developers don’t know about the practical realities of their design until the prototype is produced. 3D printing stands to offer innovators a means to produce prototypes at will, speeding up the development practice but changing the relationship between manufacturers and designers.
Being in the Business of Prototypes
The production of a prototype of a design is an expensive undertaking. If you think of it, it is why you get a greater discount when ordering production in large bulk versus a few units. It costs time and money for manufacturers to set their machines up for a limited production run. For this reason, not only is a prototype expensive to produce, but it is considered a niche industry. Not all manufacturers are willing to go through the process of setting up their systems for a one off run.
Will 3D Printing Hurt the Industry?
Will 3D printing undermine the business of prototyping? In some ways, yes. By allowing innovators to produce their own prototypes there will be less a need for a manufacturer to do so. In some ways, no. by being able to do the prototyping in-house, manufacturers can focus on the large runs of products, increasing their revenue.
The fanfare surrounding the production of a 3D Printed gun did more than celebrate a step forward in technology; it highlighted a whole new discussion of copyright and ethical standards for open source technology. Businesses and individuals are beginning to consider what the future of responsibility will look like in a way that continues the discussion of copyright and the Internet. There are no easy answers to these questions as the culture of innovation is rapidly leaving the brick and mortar world.
A Different Approach to Development
The open source movement arose on the Internet for two reasons. One, the developers felt that the technology and programming structures should be made available to all to stimulate innovation. Two, for many developers who lack funding for research and development labs, open source allows them to outsource debugging and development at no cost. By creating a community of contributors, projects can move forward without funding at unheard of speed. This challenges the standards of development. Traditionally, research and development costs were offset by the ownership of copyright on the end technology and product.
The 3D Challenge
3D printing technology has presented a challenge to this debate for two reasons. One, as the technology becomes more affordable to general users, like the home CD/DVD burners did, the potential for people creating pirated versions of copyrighted objects is great. Two, the 3D printer itself is designed by open source, which means anyone can build the machines or adapt them and major manufacturers are prevented from restricting the market.
3D printing has captured the public imagination with all the news and controversy surrounding the firing of the first 3D printed gun. While thousands of people downloaded the plans for printing their own gun, the reality is that few will have the means to print it off and fire it. 3D printers and the materials needed for printing are not found easily at your local office supply store.
Starting Budget – At least $25,000
The average estimated price to set up a 3D printer is about $25,000. You can build your own printer and find lower end means of setting one up, but you still then have to get the printing materials and set up a suitable environment for printing. This type of printing is more similar to the process of extrusion then laser printing and it can take hours to print a form.
What materials are needed?
Forget the box of office paper, to use a 3D printer you will need materials such as nylon, ABS plastic, silver, titanium, wax, stereo lithography materials, photopolymers and more. Many of these materials are considered toxic and caustic so you will also need the means to properly store and manage them.
To begin 3D printing, you also need a dedicated space for the process. This is not an inkjet printer you can balance on your desk and the cat can sleep on it when it is not in use. These are calibrated machines that require a steady and clean environment.
If you are looking for a new and unique approach to getting things done, consider 3D printing. With this exciting technology, anyone can create most anything they want to create, easily and in a hurry.
What is 3D Printing?
3D printing is a layer by layer creation of an object. No matter what you want to create, a printer can lay down layers onto a build tray where they stack up and create the final product. There are many different forms of 3D printing with the most popular called SLA. SLA 3D printing uses ultraviolent lights to cure liquid resins into solids.
In order to make a 3D printing creation, you first need to have the design in place. A model must be created using computer software. Anyone can make this model, where it can then go on to the printer. The model is put into the printer and it will begin making your creation.
Make your Creations
No matter what you want to create, 3D printing allows you to do it. It is a great way to introduce new business ideas and take your company to entirely new heights. It is actually affordable, and well worth all of your efforts.
There are many companies that offer 3D printing, and it is also something that you can do yourself or within your facilities if you are able to create the models or have people around you who can. Either way that you choose, 3D printing will benefit you!
Technology has made advances in leaps and bounds recently, and it is only going to get more impressive as the years go on. One of the most recent advances in technology is the 3 dimensional printer. It sounds like a device that you would see on the latest Star Trek movie; however, this is more than a concept. It is an actual printer that creates 3 dimensional objects. The printer is operated by receiving a command that was programmed in to a computer with the map of how to create the 3 dimensional device. The printer can use materials like plastic, rubber, or even metal. The printer then layers the materials over and over again until the object is completely formed. This printer can pretty much print anything that it is programmed to print.
The first awesome thing that the printer can make if intricately designed objects that are actually really fragile and delicate. This is cool because an otherwise really difficult and costly process can be streamlined for a fraction of the cost. The second crazy creation that this printer can make is a gun. That is pretty wild that a printer can build a functioning gun. The third really amazing object that this type of printed can create is prosthetic devices. The printer can make rubber body covers, arms, legs you name it. This is a truly great technological advancement for our time. It leaves the world wondering, what is going to be the next step with this amazing accomplishment?