3D Printing

Back in high school, I took an elective course called 3d printing. What I basically got to do was learn how to use a certain program, create whatever I wanted, and transfer the file to a 3d printer and print my project. For example, one product I created was a toy train. After saving it img_2481on a USB, I plugged it into a 3d printer and let it go to work. 3d printers work by the machine heats up to a certain degree then begins to lay a synthetic plastic down onto a flat surface and layer by layer it creates the object I want. Here is a close-up video on how the printer works. To the right is the train I printed in high school.

I bring up 3d printers because they have a huge impact on technology today and for the future. In manufacturing, today, 3d printers bring the consumer into its own process at home, offices, industries, and hospitals. 3d printers don’t not strictly print with plastic but in fact there is a wide range of material that can be used including different metals, gold, silver, platinum, sandstone, wax, and other types of plastic. This shows how wide ranged 3d printers can be used and you really can use them for basically anything.

It’s amazing to see how 3d printers have already changed and affected the world. Innovations have changed the way people at NASA, those in any type of medical or science field, manufactures, and many types of other professions, use 3d printers to their advantage to make life easier yet more effective for themselves others.

On July 12, 2016, up at the international space station, crew members began to re-install their 3d printer to continue their research of how these printers can work in a zero-gravity environment. According to the article Research of 3D Printing on the Space Station, author Sarah Loff explains that the crew members are going to begin printing a variety of tools and various parts so they can be sent back to earth to be compared to actual parts. This will give a good idea on how these printers work in space and if scientists need to adjust anything. It will be a huge advantage to have 3d printers work in space. Crew members depend on resupply missions which could take weeks or even months to gain simple tools for their work. With the ability to print in space, Sarah Loff stresses that there will be a dramatic decrease in time to obtain parts and it will ensure greater safety for different space missions.

Another way 3d printers have changed the world is through the medical field. One great advancement that was printed to change the medical field is a cast. Millions of people suffer from broken bones and doctors set them up in either a fiberglass or plaster type of cast. According to Jake Evill’s article about the Cortex Exoskeleton Cast, he writes that the older types of casts tend to be heavy, non-water resistant, smelly, and low tech. However, with the creation of the Cortex Exoskeleton Cast, people can experience a cast that is anatomically fitted, water-proof, light weight, cheap, hygienic, and actually pleasing to look at it. These casts work by patients undergoing an x-ray and a 3d scan of their arm to locate the fracture. Computer software then generates an accurate set up of a cast to support the fracture the patient has. Aimagesfter that, it is simply printed which takes only a few hours. These casts are much better to support the patients fracture than previous types of casts and they are very affordable so they are affordable for many people.

A large problem we have today is people having organ or tissue failure. The way this is treated is usually through an organ transplant coming from a living or deceased person. Many people are in need of one and are put on a list, however it’s very hard to treat everyone in need since the limited number of organs. After reading C. Lee Ventola’s article on Medical Applications for 3D Printing, she also describes that a second problem is that it’s hard to match the tissue with the person and the donated organ. The creation of 3d bio-printing takes advantage of a common 3D printer and uses that type of technology to create cells and bio-materials. Ventola says this is done by a layer by layer technique that prints out droplets of human cells. This can lead to many things including the creation of knee meniscus, heart valve, spinal disk, other types of cartilage and bone, and an artificial ear.

It’s easy to see how amazing 3D printers can be and this is only the beginning. There are endless possibilities in which 3D printers can change any type of field of work, increase safety for others, and reduce health risks. In the future, we hope bio-printing can increase its technology, change roles in personal medication, and a whole wide range of other possibilities. It’s exciting to see what we can do with this technology today, but it will soon get even better.

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One thought on “3D Printing

  1. Angela Maria Napolitano

    3D printing still seems like an absolutely crazy concept to me. It seems like something only in a science fiction story even though I know it’s real and I’ve seen it in action. It’s very cool the sort of things we can make with 3D printing, and it’s even cooler to think about what we could make in the future! I actually very recently saw a video on Facebook or Instagram of a 3D printer building a tiny castle out of concrete. I found the video on YouTube:

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