The Pros and Cons of 3D Printing

 

By: Adan Barrera

3D printing is the action of making a physical object by melting plastic or filament to produce jewelry, shoes, dentures, prosthetics, and cars. This high-tech process is changing various industries and how people are learning to engineer products more efficiently.

Although a wide range of materials can be used in 3D printers such as plastic, metal, and wood, plastic tends to be the most commonly-used material. First, 3D printers heat up plastic filaments into a more malleable form, then uses programs to form objects from the layers of melted plastic. Once the melted plastic cools down, a solid object has been formed. 

Interest in 3D printing has become increasingly popular; two websites, Tinkercad and Thingaverse, are favored for aiding people in learning how to program the machines.

Tinkercad helps its users create a 3D print file that can then be used to program a 3D printer. Likewise, Thingaverse is a file sharing website where users can share and receive 3D designs.

Terminator mask created from a Thingaverse file

Flashforge Finder 3D Printer

Creative applications of 3D printing have brought advancements in the fields of medicine, architecture, dentistry, and many other industries. In the medical industry, improvements to prosthetic limbs, dental implants, hearing aids, organs, and even skin for burn victims have been accelerated through the process of 3D printing.

At this time, 3D printers are creating new designs for small consumables such as pencil holders, small statues, pens, airplane components, model cars, and authentic cars. Additionally, architects use 3D printing to help develop models to test a building’s stability before construction begins. The ability of 3D printers to manufacture complex geometric shapes is helping put out unique designs into practice for buildings and automobiles.

However, 3D printers have several drawbacks that include being time-consuming, limited to certain projects based on their current capacity, and the expensive prices for printers and filaments. Fortunately, plans are being made to address these problems in the future.

Assorted colored PLA filament for 3D Printers

CR10 S5 3D Printer