In the beginning
In the mid-80s when the first machines for 3D printing began to circulate, few were willing to bet that the technology had a chance to drive a real revolution in the field of manufacturing. At the time the only available technique was stereo lithography, which utilized print layers of photopolymers modeled through the use of ultraviolet light and gradually superimposed to form more or less faithful reproduction of a three-dimensional object. It was a slow and expensive process (a machine could cost as much $ 500K) and therefore was unattractive for large-scale application. Almost thirty years later, the situation has drastically changed.
3D Printing Today
The cost of machinery over the years has literally collapsed, to the point that these days many companies exploit 3D printing to build three-dimensional prototypes of plastic material without having to activate an entire production process ad hoc. But it is only in recent years that the prices of machinery for 3D printing have decreased dramatically, making it possible for the common man to use 3D printing technology. Suffice it to say that there are companies that have already sold small 3D printers whose price do not exceed one thousand euro (some even offer it in less than 500 euro).
3D printing Production Techniques
Of course, the basic concept of 3D printing is interesting: build a three-dimensional model on your computer and input commands, which will order the printer to use the 3D model and forge a true representation of the model. Most 3D printers use a production technique known as additive manufacturing – the desired object is modeled printing a layer at a time and superimposing it to those layers which are already printed. This can be done in several ways. 3D printers using laser sintering method create the object by heating the powder metal or the thermoplastic.
In Fused Deposition method, a heated nozzle is used that melts the material, which lies three-dimensionally so as to reproduce the 3D model displayed on the computer screen. There are other techniques used mainly in industrial environments, such as the Laminated Object method, which involves stacking thin layers of material, which are engraved by laser from time to time. There are several methods which can be used in 3D printing, for reproducing the image of an object, very realistically. Different organizations and industries use the method which is best suited to meet all the needs of their business.