We find ourselves on the cusp of another industrial revolution. 3D printing has reached a tipping point, and it’s about to become mainstream in a big way. While many engineers and hobbyists have used this innovative manufacturing technology in their daily work, much of the general public is still unaware of this powerful new tool. However, this is about to change as 3D printing continues to become more accessible.
At its core, 3D printing is a process that allows for the creation of solid objects from digital files. Also known as additive manufacturing, this technique is unique from other manufacturing techniques. Traditionally, manufacturing has relied on subtractive techniques, which require huge machines that cost tens of thousands of dollars.
On the other hand, 3D printing can be accomplished on desktop-friendly machines. Using affordable materials like plastics, these printers can create everything from novelty figurines to hard-to-find automotive parts. Believe it or not, NASA even uses a 3D printer on the International Space Station to print custom tools!