Simply defined 3D printing is the process of creating a three dimensional solid object from a digital model. Basically, its the same concept of printing as when you print word documents off your computer. The difference is that instead of paper you are using building materials like PLA or ABS plastics. Instead of getting a piece of paper you are getting an object based on your design.
The Process of 3D Printing
Printing 3D is a very interesting process and it can democratize production but how does it work? You start with the model of your object that you create using 3D modeling software such as Autodesk Entertainment Creation Suite and ZBrush. Then you simply send this model to the 3D printer. The first layer of information is read and the first level of material, let's say plastic is printed. What happens is a fine layer of plastic filament is melted. Then layer after layer is put on until you have your finished product.
Applications for Printing in 3D
The possibilities for printing in 3D are virtually limitless. Many people see 3D printing as a true democratization of the production process. You can pretty much print whatever you design – jewelry, shoes, toys, household items, etc. The most common business applications are for prototyping and distributed manufacturing. Many different fields utilize 3D printers like architecture, construction, industrial design, automotive, dental, medical and aerospace to name a few. Three dimensional bioprinters have be created to make 3D tissue structures. As an individual, you could use your 3D printer as your own factory to make your creations.
Popular 3D Printers
Some of the top brand names for 3D printers are 3D Systems, MakerBot and FormLabs. For schools and businesses, there is the affordable, professional CubeX 3D printer which can print objects up to the size of a basketball. If you are looking for something smaller for your home (and more budget friendly), the Cube 3D printer might be right for you.