Does 3-D Printing Have A Place in the Future?

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This photo is from TCT magazine and illustrates a few examples of the medical models that can be made from 3-D printing. 

Three dimensional printing, 3-D printing for short, is a process used to manufacture solid three dimensional objects from a digital file. To print something three dimensionally, a certain method must be used called additive processing. In an additive process, successive layers of an object are laid down until an object is created. Through 3-D printing, people are able to create complex shapes using less material than traditional methods of manufacturing. 

3-D printing starts with creating a 3-D model. The 3-D model can be downloaded from a 3-D repository, or it can be created. There are many different methods used to create a 3-D model. One of the methods is 3-D modeling software that comes in many different tools where it can cost thousands of dollars. 

3-D printing is starting to become a common technology that is used for production. The use of 3-D printing is rapidly rising with its global market estimated to be worth forty-one million dollars by 2026. 

Used in almost every industry, one may be surprised when finding out what a 3-D printer can do. A few examples of things that have been made are eyewear, prosthetics, dental products, and architectural scale models. 3-D printing can also be used to reconstruct and replicate things. Examples of replicating include fossils and ancient artifacts. Examples of reconstructing include body parts and heavily damaged evidence from a crime scene.  

Students around Cape Henry Collegiate were interviewed on 3-D printing. A few students have 3-D printed in the past like Beau Gwaltney(‘20). Beau said that he did a fair amount of 3-D printing in his engineering class with his teacher, Mr. Torch. When asked about what he has 3-D printed in the past, he said, “I have had experience 3-D printing engineering parts made out of plastic.” A few students were also interviewed on what they would print if they had a 3-D printer. Bryce Jones(‘21) said that he would print a water bottle,  Trevor Kidd(‘20) said that he would print legos, Kenzie Dillon(‘21) said that she would print a lacrosse stick, and Marco Benedetto(‘20) said that he would print sunglasses. 

3-D printing will actually be a part of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. It will be in an event called the Advanced Manufacturing Olympics Event which is an event where a number of manufacturing companies, defense contractors, tech startups, and universities will compete in design challenges. The United States Airforce will be holding the event. Through the event, the United States Air Force will test the capabilities of 3-D printed components for possible use of them in the future. 

3-D printing has already broken many barriers. As time goes on, it will only be capable of more and more. It is safe to say that 3-D printing definitely has a place in the future.