Definition Edit

3-D printing (also referred to as additive layer manufacturing) is a process of making a three-dimensional solid object of virtually any shape from a digital model. 3-D printing is achieved using an additive process, where successive layers of material are laid down in different shapes.

Overview Edit

"3D printing quality has increased, and printer and supply costs have decreased to a level that broadens the appeal of 3D printing to a wider range of businesses, schools and consumers. Additive 3D printers deposit resin, plastic or another material, layer by layer, to build up a physical model. Inkjet 3D printers image successive layers of plastic powder, hardening each layer on contact, to build up the piece. The size of the part varies with the specific manufacturer's printer and whether support structures are required."[1]

"3D printing uses a fundamentally different process than most methods for traditional manufacturing. Much of modern manufacturing uses subtractive manufacturing processes, beginning with a block of material (e.g., a tube, a bar, or an ingot) and using a variety of tools to remove parts of the initial material to achieve a final design. 3D printers are additive, stacking up and fusing thin layer upon thin layer of a material (or materials) onto a blank platform to achieve a final design. This allows for flexibility and complexity in the manufacturing of 3D-printed items. Four primary properties of 3D printers stem from this unique additive construction method: reduced waste, capacity to create parts with high internal complexity, cost-effectiveness of small production runs, and ease of design modification."[2]

"These four primary properties of 3D printers translate into several distinctive manufacturing impacts: potential reduction in discrete parts per product, potential reduction in manufacturing costs, improved prototyping abilities, potential reduction in part weight or improvement in part strength, potential reduction in inventory, mass customization, potential environmental efficiency, decentralized manufacturing, and low barriers to entry."[3]

3-D printing has the capacity to revolutionize manufacturing and research and development capabilities for inventors, entrepreneurs, artists, academic researchers, and major global businesses. Much as the personal computer democratized computing power, 3-D printing has the opportunity to enable greater market participation and innovation by reducing traditional barriers such as production, labor, and shipping costs. Whether it is the hobbyist in the garage coming up with a prototype for a new gadget to make our lives easier or the scientist producing life-saving medical devices, 3-D printing brings with it a new set of opportunities for rapid and efficient trade, innovation, and creativity.

Legal issues Edit

3D printing would cause holders of IP rights to lose at least USD 100 billion in revenue in 2018.
-- Gartner

Just as 3-D printing offers the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to our society, there also exists the opportunity for individuals who look to exploit others' hard work to abuse this technology by trading in counterfeit and pirated goods, of which governments must be cognizant and diligent in their efforts to prevent.

References Edit

  1. Gartner, IT Glossary (full-text).
  2. 3D Printing: Overview, Impacts, and the Federal Role, at. 2.
  3. Id.

Source Edit

See also Edit

External resources Edit

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