Printing in 3D

Zeny Tran

Three-dimensional printing, also known as 3D printing, is an advanced manufacturing process that turns a digital design into a physical object. The object is made by laying down consecutive layers of material until the entire product is finalized. 3D printing makes it possible to create complicated shapes with less material than traditional production processes. Designers utilize 3D printers to generate product models and prototypes quickly. According to PC Magazine, they are increasingly being used to create items such as shoe designs, furniture, tools, gift and novelty items, and toys.

Students in Mr. Cardenas’ 21st Century Learning class were assigned to create a 3D design of a keychain using the 3D software Tinkercad. The keychain was to be personalized by the student, incorporating their name and original design. During the process of creating the keychain, it was essential to be fully conscious of the size and dimensions in order for the entire design to come out cleanly from the 3D printer. Students have also created Christmas ornaments and models of machines.

Since 3D printing is of greater quality and superior to conventional industrial methods, it provides numerous benefits to manufacturing businesses. 3D printers are quick and easy to use, inexpensive, and entirely versatile. Before 3D printers, fully creating a product could take months or even a year; however, with 3D printers, designs can be created in a matter of minutes or days. 3D printers are more cost-effective in terms of production techniques because only a few operators are required for the system. It generates less waste than other machines and does not require any experienced technician labor.

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The project of designing a custom keychain in Mr. Cardenas’ class demonstrates how versatile 3D printers are, as it can produce a variety of shapes and sizes. We were able to design to our hearts’ content, make minor adjustments, and witness how the 3D printer turned our software-generated thoughts and ideas into reality.

Today 3D printing is used to make consumer products (eye glasses, shoes, and furniture), medical and dental products (prosthetic limbs, bone grafts, teeth), and automotive and aviation parts. According to 3D Printing.com, in the last 17 years, almost all of the hearing aids have been 3D printed by Materialise and Phonak.

Andrew Sink from Tom’s Hardware reports that the most common types of home 3D printers are resin MSLA (Masked StereoLithogrAphy) and filament FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling). The MSLA uses A UV-cured material to create a model as it rises from a vat of liquid. FDM printers use a feedstock model fed into a hot nozzle, which produces a less polished finished product.