3D printing is taking the world by storm. Even since their inception, 3d printers have continuously become more and more powerful. They started out printing small plastic blocks and have by now moved on to printing tools, decorations, prosthetics, even gun parts.
3D printer’s golden hands
We are on the threshold of an age where we will be able to print just about anything we want – from evening shoes to toys and tools, to firearms. How much is true in the announcement that 3D printers will bring us a new industrial revolution?
After the unexpectedly tumultuous development of computers, we are approaching the limit of digital technology development. There are no more new processors, each of which is at least three times faster than its predecessor. New video units are only moderately different from the previous generation, supercomputers and artificial intelligence have slowed significantly, and monitor makers are scattering the stereoscopic 3D technology found back in 1838.
For over a decade, the computer industry relied on repackaging old technology into new enclosures, so we had smaller laptops, palmtop, and tablets.
None of this was fundamentally new, so users were already tired of changing colors and masks on their “smartphones”.
And then a miracle happened, the 3D printer emerged, announcing a new paradigm in the digital age. The result of a computer no longer has to be just an imprint of one’s imagination in a virtual space, which will disappear with the shutdown. Now, this is an item that you can touch, that has its own weight and, after exiting the printer, is virtually indistinguishable from something made in a conventional way, with a lot of manual or machine work.
At first glance, it would be said that there is nothing epochal in 3D printing – the material is brought in liquid, powder or molten state and then, one by one voxel (a compound of the word volume and pixel), somehow address the desired points, so that the material on the desired places harden. Similar to the way a dot matrix 2D printer draws pixel by pixel on paper, the new generation of printers creates an object in three dimensions, voxel by voxel. How that?
How does a 3D printer work?
Although not all 3D printers work in the same way, they have one thing in common: Unlike subtractive machines (lathes, drills, saws) that take away excess material from a large chunk of material, 3D printers are additive: they start with “nothing” and the product they create by adding material point by point, or at least line by line. This material may be molten plastic, which is selectively deposited along the X-axis by an extruder. When one line is completed, the dispenser head returns moves one voxel along the Y-axis and repeats the process. After completion of one horizontal layer, the started object is lowered by one voxel, and everything is repeated with the next Z coordinate.
The building is therefore constructed from layers of molten plastic, which is immediately cooled and cured. Typically, ABS or biodegradable PLA-shaped plastic is used, which is mechanically brought to the melting point in a moving 3D printer extruder. Along with the material for the construction of the building, there is also a material for the temporary filling of the empty parts of the building, which is chemically removed after completion of the work by immersion in hydrochloric acid.
This enables printing of forms that might otherwise be impracticable- Imagine, for example, how a printer would make a figure of a man with his hands down, because while making the bottom-up, his hands would hang in the air (since the hands had not yet been printed) and every subsequent layer would fall on the substrate. In addition to plastic, a variety of other materials can be used, such as rubber, synthetic stone, and even food, so you can print the cake of your desired shape with chocolate and caramel decorations. There are also giant 3D printers that build homes made of special concrete.