31/10/2020 DESIGN, 3DMETALPRINTING, 3DFAUCETS - Author: UNIQ-Ǝ!

3D PRINT: the revolution has begun


It is still relatively young, but promises to leave an indelible mark on the history of industry and design: 3D printing was patented in 1986 by the US engineer Chuck Hull and essentially consists of a process by which physical objects are created by depositing material in layers, in order to recreate the shapes of a digital model. It is therefore an additive manufacturing method.

From its beginning, 3D printing has evolved and differentiated very quickly: more and more innovative printing techniques have since been introduced, using a large number of materials with different mechanical characteristics, thus allowing the wide distribution of this production technique in a growing number of industries.

Compared to traditional technologies for subtractive production, that is, obtain an object from a block of material by eliminating the excess parts, 3D printed production is generally faster; moreover, 3D printers are easier to use than traditional production systems. The main feature of 3D printers is the ability to print and assemble parts composed of materials with different physical and mechanical properties, through a single process.

The applications of 3D printing are innumerable: it is used in prototyping/CAD, in architecture, metal casting, education, geospatial engineering, automotive, aerospace, healthcare and entertainment. With UNIQ∙Ǝ! It is now also used in the sanitary fittings industry.

But that is not all: 3D modelling and printing uses its application in palaeontology with the reconstruction of fossils, in archaeology, with the replication of ancient artifacts, and in forensic medicine.

The most fascinating applications of 3D printing are those studied by companies and biotechnology academies, concerning tissue engineering and bioprinting. Layers of living cells are deposited on a model structure and slowly accumulated to form three-dimensional structures.

There are various 3D printing technologies, which differ in the way in which the various layers of material are added.

The FDM method, Fused Deposition Modelling, sometimes also called filament freeform fabrication (FFF) foresees that printing takes place through a nozzle that deposits a molten polymer layer by layer, based on the geometry of the piece to be made.

Hull's first patented process Stereolithography (SLA) uses a medium curable by UV light to treat the resin, layer by layer.

On the market there are mainly 4 technologies suitable for the additive manufacturing of metals: MBJ (Metal Binder Jetting), DED (Direct Energy Deposition), DMLS/SLM (Direct Metal Laser Sintering / Selective Laser Melting) and EBM (Electronic Beam Melting).

3D printing is progressively revolutionizing the entire production system and beyond.

After almost a decade, the words of the Economist from Feb.10, 2011 may appear prophetic: «Three-dimensional printing makes it as cheap to create single items as it is to produce thousands and thus undermines economies of scale. It may have as profound an impact on the world as the coming of the factory did... Just as nobody could have predicted the impact of the steam engine in 1750—or the printing press in 1450, or the transistor in 1950—it is impossible to foresee the long-term impact of 3D printing. But the technology is coming, and it is likely to disrupt every field it touches».
















  

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