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    Printing the Future: 3D printing

    3d printers November 4, 2013 4:27 pm Published by Comments Off on Printing the Future: 3D printing

    For the last couple of decades manufacturers of printers have sought to improve print resolution and speed, while also making their products more ink and toner efficient.  Yet while office managers have been focused on the world of traditional printing, there has been a revolution quietly taking place; that of 3D printing technology.

    Welcome to the Third Dimension

    Put in the simplest of terms, a 3D printer builds up layer upon layer of fused resin until the layers take on a three-dimensional shape; very much what would happen if a static sheet of laser printed paper had the identical piece of text repeatedly printed on it. While resins and lasers are integral to both the world of 2D laser-printed pages and 3D printing, there the analogy largely stops, because 3D printing requires different resins, or even powdered metals, and mechanisms that can move a print-head in three dimensions with high precision.

    Should you buy a 3D printer?

    Over the last couple of years the subject of 3D printing has attracted a large amount of media attention, with some technology pundits lauding it as the basis of a new Industrial Revolution. More recently, the computer press has focused on the growing number of 3D printers that have been appearing on the market for domestic use.

    3D printing has its roots in the industrial manufacturing of components, where high power lasers fuse metal powder into complex parts that would be difficult to machine by hand, too costly to mould individually, or time-consuming to fabricate. To a certain extent the new wave of low-cost 3D printing technology answers exactly the same requirements, but at a reduced scale for the general workplace.

    An owl printed by a 3D printer. Image source

    Ownership of a 3D printer will hardly be warranted by most businesses simply for occasional use, but for those that deal with components, or are involved with 3D design work, 3D printing is an exciting new tool.

    Architects are already exploring 3D printer technology to produce mock-ups of buildings and cityscapes that would take many man-hours to produce by hand. For disciplines such as product design low-cost 3D printing allows physical prototyping of concepts right on the desktop. And, just as one might tweak a document and print out a second copy, designers will quickly modify shapes and print these out on demand.

    At street level it is not beyond the realms of possibility that every town could one day have its own corner-shop 3D printing boutique, in much the same way as photocopying shops appeared before the advent of cheap laser printers became available for home use. You will simply walk in with a 3D file of a part that you need replacing or to be produced and the printer does the rest.

    As with 2D printing, designers, office managers and purchase departments will still have the same printer cost issues to contend with on the three-dimensional level: speed of output, costs of resins used for printing, and also the quality of those resins. As always, this is where trusted and reputable vendors and suppliers provide the behind the scenes reassurance for a smooth running print operation. For any sort of printing advice, please feel free to contact the GAbusiness team on (020) 3 542 8711!

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