Explaining what a 3D printer does is rather simple — 3D printing is a method of making three dimensional, solid objects from a digital file. Just like a regular ink-layering printer, but instead of toner, 3D printers use more substantial mediums (such as plastic or ground metals) to create almost any object imaginable.
Such a simple concept, yet 3D printing is changing the world in complex ways. All Makes is proud to work with an innovator in the field — 3D Systems — to bring 3D Printing to the Midwest.
All Makes Works With the Oldest Manufacturer in the Industry
3D Systems offers breaking edge technology for specialized fields. For over 30 years, 3D Systems has “bridged the gap between inspiration and innovation by connecting customers with the expertise and digital manufacturing workflow required to solve their business, design or engineering problems.” The company has been around since the beginning; in fact, they are the oldest 3D printing company in the world.
3D Systems offers products for a range of industries including aerospace and defense, automotive, healthcare, dental, durable goods, teaching and training, and entertainment. With a broad range of 3D printing technologies, 3D Systems offers a combination of 3D printing process, material and application capability to incorporate the correct solution into your specific industry and process.
3D Printers in Materials Research and Prototyping
As 3D printing becomes more affordable and innovative, the technology is spreading across industries. Computerworld stated that researchers at MIT have crafted 3D-printed graphene, a two-dimensional material only an atom thick, to make a material that they say is “lighter than air” but 10 times as strong as steel. If they find a way to produce this material on an industrial level, 3D-printed graphene could change the transportation and infrastructure industry. 3D technology is leading to innovation, but also exploration.
The company Planetary Resource’s stated mission is, “To establish a new paradigm for resource utilization that will bring the solar system within humanity’s economic sphere of influence.” Think mining asteroids. The company is using 3D Systems tools to optimize intricate parts and assemblies—resulting in lighter-weight parts, streamlined design, and cost savings from merging the building process into one casted part.
3D Printers in Healthcare
3D printing is also making waves in the healthcare industry. Specialists have developed 3D-printed airway splints for infants, skin for burn victims, facial reconstruction parts for cancer patients, and prosthetic limbs for amputees. The quickly-evolving technology is so versatile because it is able to adapt to the variety of shapes and sizes needed when customizing devices for individual patients. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates there are about 30 million people who require prosthetic limbs, braces or other movement devices, yet less than 20% have access to them.
Prosthetics often require a lot of work and expertise to produce and fit and the WHO says there is presently an absence of 40,000 trained prosthetists in poorer countries. There is also the time and financial cost to patients to consider. They may have to travel for days to reach a facility equipped to handle their condition, and once they arrive it could take days more to evaluate their need, create a prosthesis, and fit it to the residual limb. The result is that prosthetics are among the most urgently needed medical devices. Looking past the economic gains to be made by 3D printing, the humanitarian applications are just as surmountable.
3D Printing in Manufacturing
What started out as truly an experiment in manufacturing, 3D systems are becoming more mainstream and easily accessible. According to the Harvard Business Review, among the many companies using 3-D printing to increase production are GE (jet engines, medical devices, and home appliance parts), Lockheed Martin and Boeing (aerospace and defense), Aurora Flight Sciences (unmanned aerial vehicles), Invisalign (dental devices), Google (consumer electronics), and the Dutch company LUXeXcel (lenses for light-emitting diodes, or LEDs).
The possibilities of 3D printing are still being discovered, but it seems the only true limit is the users’ own imagination. These fundamentally simple yet effectively complex pieces of technology are moving the world forward on so many fronts, from the creation of more accessible prosthetics to the capabilities of space exploration.
What will your company create?