3D Printing (Overview)
Since their introduction more than 20 years ago, 3D Printing (RP) technologies have changed the way that many designers and manufacturers work - either directly or indirectly.
For anyone new to the technologies however, '3D Printing' is the most common name given to a host of related technologies that are used to fabricate physical object - using additive processes - directly from 3D CAD data. The revolutionary aspect of RP technologies is their additive nature - traditional prototyping processes are subtractive. RP technologies add and bond materials in ultra-thin layers to form the required part or model. Such systems are also known as additive fabrication, 3D printing, solid freeform fabrication (SFF) and layered manufacturing. Today's additive technologies offer advantages for many applications compared with classical subtractive fabrication methods such as milling, machining or turning. Recent developments have seen rapid manufacturing (RM) become a reality, whereby production of end use parts are built using additive processes.
One of the key advantages of additive processes is the ability to build parts with complex geometries and intricate details without the need for elaborate machine setup or final assembly - in some cases RP has proved to be the only method that can meet some complexity demands. RP systems can reduce the construction of complex objects to a manageable, straightforward and relatively fast process.