3D printing ict

What is 3D Printing? - Technology Definition and Types

3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is a method of creating a three dimensional object layer-by-layer using a computer created design.

3D printing is an additive process whereby layers of material are built up to create a 3D part. This is the opposite of subtractive manufacturing processes, where a final design is cut from a larger block of material. As a result, 3D printing creates less material wastage.

This article is one of a series of TWI frequently asked questions (FAQs).

3D printing is also perfectly suited to the creation of complex, bespoke items, making it ideal for rapid prototyping.


  1. What materials can be used?
  2. History
  3. Technologies
  4. Process types
  5. How long does it take?
  6. Advantages and disadvantages
  7. What is an STL file?
  8. Industries
  9. Services
  10. FAQs


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There are a variety of 3D printing materials, including thermoplastics such as acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), metals (including powders), resins and ceramics.

Who Invented 3D Printing?

The earliest 3D printing manufacturing equipment was developed by Hideo Kodama of the Nagoya Municipal Industrial Research Institute, when he invented two additive methods for fabricating 3D models.

When was 3D Printing Invented?

Building on Ralf Baker's work in the 1920s for making decorative articles (patent US423647A), Hideo Kodama's early work in laser cured resin rapid prototyping was completed in 1981. His invention was expanded upon over the next three decades, with the introduction of stereolithography in 1984. Chuck Hull of 3D Systems invented the first 3D printer in 1987, which used the stereolithography process. This was followed by developments such as selective laser sintering and selective laser melting, among others. Other expensive 3D printing systems were developed in the 1990s-2000s, although the cost of these dropped dramatically when the patents expired in 2009, opening up the technology for more users.

There are three broad types of 3D printing technology; sintering, melting, and stereolithography.

  • Sintering is a technology where the material is heated, but not to the point of melting, to create high resolution items. Metal powder is used for direct metal laser sintering while thermoplastic powders are used for selective laser sintering.
  • Melting methods of 3D printing include powder bed fusion, electron beam melting and direct energy deposition, these use lasers, electric arcs or electron beams to print objects by melting the materials together at high temperatures.
  • Stereolithography utilises photopolymerization to create parts. This technology uses the correct light source to interact with the material in a selective manner to cure and solidify a cross section of the object in thin layers.

Types of 3D printing

3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, processes have been categorised into seven groups by ISO/ASTM 52900 additive manufacturing - general principles - terminology. All forms of 3D printing fall into one of the following types:

  • Binder Jetting
  • Direct Energy Deposition
  • Material Extrusion
  • Material Jetting
  • Powder Bed Fusion
  • Sheet Lamination
  • VAT Polymerization
Binder Jetting

Binder jetting deposits a thin layer of powered material, for example metal, polymer sand or ceramic, onto the build platform, after which drops of adhesive are deposited by a print head to bind the particles together. This builds the part layer by layer and once this is complete post processing may be necessary to finish the build. As examples of post processing, metal parts may be thermally sintered or infiltrated with a low melting point metal such as bronze, while full-colour polymer or ceramic parts may be saturated with cyanoacrylate adhesive.

Binder jetting can be used for a variety of applications including 3D metal printing, full colour prototypes and large scale ceramic moulds.

Direct Energy Deposition

Direct energy depositioning uses focussed thermal energy such as an electric arc, laser or electron beam to fuse wire or powder feedstock as it is deposited. The process is traversed horizontally to build a layer, and layers are stacked vertically to create a part.

This process can be used with a variety of materials, including metals, ceramics and polymers.

Material Extrusion

Material extrusion or fused deposition modelling (FDM) uses a spool of filament which is fed to an extrusion head with a heated nozzle. The extrusion head heats, softens and lays down the heated material at set locations, where it cools to create a layer of material, the build platform then moves down ready for the next layer.

This process is cost-effective and has short lead times but also has a low dimensional accuracy and often requires post processing to create a smooth finish. This process also tends to create anisotropic parts, meaning that they are weaker in one direction and therefore unsuitable for critical applications.

Material Jetting

Material jetting works in a similar manner to inkjet printing except, rather than laying down ink on a page, this process deposits layers of liquid material from one or more print heads. The layers are then cured before the process begins again for the next layer. Material jetting requires the use of support structures but these can be made from a water-soluble material that can be washed away once the build is complete.

A precise process, material jetting is one of the most expensive 3D printing methods, and the parts tend to be brittle and will degrade over time. However, this process allows for the creation of full-colour parts in a variety of materials.

Powder Bed Fusion

Powder bed fusion (PBF) is a process in which thermal energy (such as a laser or electron beam) selectively fuses areas of a powder bed to form layer, and layers are built upon each other to create a part. One thing to note is that PBF covers both sintering and melting processes. The basic method of operation of all powder bed systems is the same: a recoating blade or roller deposits a thin layer of the powder onto the build platform, the powder bed surface is then scanned with a heat source which selectively heats the particles to bind them together. Once a layer or cross-section has been scanned by the heat source, the platform moves down to allow the process to begin again on the next layer. The final result is a volume containing one or more fused parts surrounded by unaffected powder. When the build is complete, the bed is fully raised to allow the parts to be removed from the unaffected powder and any required post processing to begin.

Selective laser sintering (SLS) is often used for manufacture of polymer parts and is good for prototypes or functional parts due to the properties produced, while the lack of support structures (the powder bed acts as a support) allows for the creation of pieces with complex geometries. The parts produced may have a grainy surface and inner porosity, meaning there is often a need for post processing.  

Direct metal laser sintering (DMLS), selective laser melting (SLM) and electron beam powder bed fusion (EBPBF) are similar to SLS, except these processes create parts from metal, using a laser to bond powder particles together layer-by-layer. While SLM fully melts the metal particles, DMLS only heats them to the point of fusion whereby they join on a molecular level. Both SLM and DMLS require support structures due to the high heat inputs required by the process. These support structures are then removed in post processing ether manually or via CNC machining. Finally, the parts may be thermally treated to remove residual stresses.

Both DMLS and SLM produce parts with excellent physical properties - often stronger than the conventional metal itself, and good surface finishes. They can be used with metal superalloys and sometimes ceramics which are difficult to process by other means. However, these processes can be expensive and the size of the produced parts is limited by the volume of the 3D printing system used.  

Sheet Lamination

Sheet lamination can be split into two different technologies, laminated object manufacturing (LOM) and ultrasonic additive manufacturing (UAM). LOM uses alternate layers of material and adhesive to create items with visual and aesthetic appeal, while UAM joins thin sheets of metal via ultrasonic welding. UAM is a low temperature, low energy process that can be used with aluminium, stainless steel and titanium.

VAT Photopolymerization

VAT photopolymerization can be broken down into two techniques; stereolithography (SLA) and digital light processing (DLP). These processes both create parts layer-by-layer through the use of a light to selectively cure liquid resin in a vat. SLA uses a single point laser or UV source for the curing process, while DLP flashes a single image of each full layer onto the surface of the vat. Parts need to be cleaned of excess resin after printing and then exposed to a light source to improve the strength of the pieces. Any support structures will also need to be removed and additional post-processing can be used to create a higher quality finish.  

Ideal for parts with a high level of dimensional accuracy, these processes can create intricate details with a smooth finish, making them perfect for prototype production. However, as the parts are more brittle than fused deposition modelling (FDM) they are less suited to functional prototypes. Also, these parts are not suitable for outdoor use as the colour and mechanical properties may degrade when exposed to UV light from the sun. The required support structures can also leave blemishes that need post processing to remove.

The printing time depends on a number of factors, including the size of the part and the settings used for printing. The quality of the finished part is also important when determining printing time as higher quality items take longer to produce. 3D printing can take anything from a few minutes to several hours or days - speed, resolution and the volume of material are all important factors here.

The advantages of 3D printing include:

  • Bespoke, cost-effective creation of complex geometries:
    This technology allows for the easy creation of bespoke geometric parts where added complexity comes at no extra cost. In some instances, 3D printing is cheaper than subtractive production methods as no extra material is used.
  • Affordable start-up costs:
    Since no moulds are required, the costs associated with this manufacturing process are relatively low. The cost of a part is directly related to the amount of material used, the time taken to build the part and any post processing that may be required.
  • Completely customisable:
    Because the process is based upon computer aided designs (CAD), any product alterations are easy to make without impacting the manufacturing cost.
  • Ideal for rapid prototyping:
    Because the technology allows for small batches and in-house production, this process is ideal for prototyping, which means that products can be created faster than with more traditional manufacturing techniques, and without the reliance on external supply chains.
  • Allows for the creation of parts with specific properties:
    Although plastics and metals are the most common materials used in 3D printing, there is also scope for creating parts from specially tailored materials with desired properties. So, for example, parts can be created with high heat resistance, water repellency or higher strengths for specific applications.

The disadvantages of 3D printing include:

  • Can have a lower strength than with traditional manufacture:
    While some parts, such as those made from metal, have excellent mechanical properties, many other 3D printed parts are more brittle than those created by traditional manufacturing techniques. This is because the parts are built up layer-by-layer, which reduces the strength by between 10 and 50%.
  • Increased cost at high volume:
    Large production runs are more expensive with 3D printing as economies of scale do not impact this process as they do with other traditional methods. Estimates suggest that when making a direct comparison for identical parts, 3D printing is less cost effective than CNC machining or injection moulding in excess of 100 units, provided the parts can be manufactured by conventional means.
  • Limitations in accuracy:
    The accuracy of a printed part depends on the type of machine and/or process used. Some desktop printers have lower tolerances than other printers, meaning that the final parts may slightly differ from the designs. While this can be fixed with post-processing, it must be considered that 3D printed parts may not always be exact.
  • Post-processing requirements:
    Most 3D printed parts require some form of post-processing. This may be sanding or smoothing to create a required finish, the removal of support struts which allow the materials to be built up into the designated shape, heat treatment to achieve specific material properties or final machining.

An STL file is a simple, portable format used by computer aided design (CAD) systems to define the solid geometry for 3D printable parts. An STL file provides the input information for 3D printing by modelling the surfaces of the object as triangles that share edges and vertices with other neighbouring triangles for the build platform. The resolution of the STL file impacts the quality of the 3D printed parts - if the file resolution is too high the triangle may overlap, if it is too low the model will have gaps, making it unprintable. Many 3D printers require an STL file to print from, however these files can be created in most CAD programs.

Due to the versatility of the process, 3D printing has applications across a range of industries, for example:


3D printing is used across the aerospace (and astrospace) industry due to the ability to create light, yet geometrically complex parts, such as blisks. Rather than building a part from several components, 3D printing allows for an item to be created as one whole component, reducing lead times and material wastage.


The automotive industry has embraced 3D printing due to the inherent weight and cost reductions. It also allows for rapid prototyping of new or bespoke parts for test or small-scale manufacture. So, for example, if a particular part is no longer available, it can be produced as part of a small, bespoke run, including the manufacture of spare parts. Alternatively, items or fixtures can be printed overnight and are ready for testing ahead of a larger manufacturing run.


The medical sector has found uses for 3D printing in the creation of made-to-measure implants and devices. For example, hearing aids can be created quickly from a digital file that is matched to a scan of the patient's body. 3D printing can also dramatically reduce costs and production times.


The rail industry has found a number of applications for 3D printing, including the creation of customised parts, such as arm rests for drivers and housing covers for train couplings. Bespoke parts are just one application for the rail industry, which has also used the process to repair worn rails. 


The speed of manufacture, design freedom, and ease of design customisation make 3D printing perfectly suited to the robotics industry. This includes work to create bespoke exoskeletons and agile robots with improved agility and efficiency.

TWI has one of the most definitive ranges of 3D Printing services, including selective laser melting, laser deposition, wire and arc additive manufacturing, wire and electron beam additive manufacturing and EB powder bed fusion small-scale prototyping, and more.

Additive Manufacturing

TWI provides companies with support covering every aspect of metal additive manufacturing (AM), from simple feasibility and fabrication projects to full adoption and integration of metal AM systems.

Laser Metal Deposition

TWI has been developing LMD technology for the last ten years. For full details of our capabilities in this area, and to find out more about the process and the benefits it can bring to your business.

Selective Laser Melting

TWI has been developing selective laser melting technology for the last decade. Find out full details of our capabilities in this area and the benefits it can bring to your business.

Can 3D Printing be used for Mass Production?

While there have been great advances in 3D printing, it still struggles to match other manufacturing techniques for high volume production. Techniques such as injection moulding allow for much faster mass production of parts.

Where is 3D Printing Heading in the Future?

As 3D printing technology continues to improve it could democratise the manufacture of goods. With printers becoming faster, they will be able to work on larger scale production projects, while lowering the cost of 3D printing will help its use spread outside of industrial uses and into homes, schools and other settings.

Which 3D Printing Material is most Flexible?

Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) is commonly deemed to be the most flexible material available to the 3D printing industry. TPU possesses bendable and stretchy characteristics that many other filaments do not have.

Which 3D Printing Material is the Strongest?

Polycarbonate is seen as the strongest 3D printing material, with a tensile strength of 9,800 psi, compared to nylon, for example, with just 7,000 psi.

Why is 3D Printing Important?

3D printing is important for the many benefits it brings. It allows users to produce items that have geometries which are difficult or impossible for traditional methods to produce. It also allows users with a limited experience to edit designs and create bespoke, customised parts. On-demand 3D printing also saves on tooling costs and provides an advanced time-to-market. 3D printing is important for industries such as aerospace, where it can create lightweight yet complex parts, offering weight saving, the associated fuel reductions and a better environmental impact as a result. It is also important for the creation of prototypes that can advance industry.

Will 3D Printing Replace Traditional Manufacturing?

3D printing has the capability to disrupt traditional manufacturing through the democratisation of production along with the production of moulds, tools and other bespoke parts. However, challenges around mass production mean that 3D printing is unlikely to replace traditional manufacturing where high volume production of comparatively simple parts is required.

Are 3D Printing Fumes Dangerous?

3D printing fumes can be dangerous to your health as the process produces toxic filament fumes. These emissions are produced as the plastic filaments are melted to create the product layer-by-layer. However, correct procedures such as ensuring sufficient ventilation or using extractors can solve this issue.

Related Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)

What are the Pros and Cons of 3D Printing?

The demand is growing due to some of the revolutionary benefits that it can provide. Like almost all technologies it has its own drawbacks that need considering.

How Long Does 3D Printing Take?

There are several factors that determine the time it takes to 3D print a part. These include the size, height, complexity and the printing technology used.

Can 3D Printing Use Metal?

Yes, it is possible to 3D print items from metal. There are several types of process which fall under the heading of metal additive manufacturing.

What is Additive Manufacturing?

Additive manufacturing (AM) is a computer controlled process that creates three dimensional objects by depositing materials, usually in layers.


What does the future hold for 3D printing?

The ultimate goal of 3D printing is to give us a Star Trek-style replicator, where you can order, for example, a hot drink and the machine will assemble it for you, atom-by-atom, explained Marcel Slot – the coordinator of the EU-funded Diginova project – in a Horizon podcast.

However, don’t throw out your kettle just yet. The project forecasts that we’ll have to wait for a while before we can make a replicator.

In the meantime, though, we’ll be able to embed electronic components into 3D-printed devices, create made-to-measure bones using live cells, and in just two decades we’ll be able to start printing our own homes, Diginova believes.

The project brought together 20 research institutes and companies to compile a roadmap to analyse exactly what the future holds for digital manufacturing.

As well as 3D printing, it also looked at digital 2D printing, printed electronics and smart lighting, and how they could converge in future.

‘If you bring these communities together, you start seeing the enormous advantages of convergence of these fields,’ said Slot.

But how long will it be until we have embedded electronics, made-to-measure replacement bones and 3D-printed houses? We’ve brought together some of the best predictions into an interactive timeline looking at what the future of 3D printing could hold:

  1. 10 years

    Integrated electronics and personalised drugs

    Devices will be printed with integrated electronic chips, enabling manufacturers to radically rethink the design of objects. 3D printing technology will also be used to generate a tailored prescription that includes a specific dose. In the home, advanced 3D printers that can mix metal and plastic will be as common as microwave ovens, while warships and aircraft hangers will also be equipped with 3D printers.

    A 3D printer that can embed 3D electronics. Image courtesy of TNO.

  2. 15 plus years

    Tissue engineering scaffolds and medical microfactories

    Scientists will be able to build scaffolds that are designed to fit specific parts of a damaged bone, for example, providing a framework to help the body heal itself.

    Medical microfactories would allow hospitals to print on-site, custom-made medical devices such as dental aligners, medical guides or surgical instruments, and replacement organs.

    3D-printed bone scaffolding. Image courtesy of BIO-SCAFFOLDS.

  3. Within 20 years

    Mega-scale digital fabrication

    Two crane-like arms could support a crossbeam that holds a printing head over a construction site. The device could then print a building layer-by-layer using jets of concrete. Researchers believe the technology would be able to make a two-storey house in just under a day.

    On the moon and in space, 3D printers could be used to create components and even print habitats for astronauts.

    3D printers could one day build a house. Image courtesy of Diginova.

  4. Decades into the future

    The internet of things

    3D printing could mean devices that have tiny batteries and sensors built into them. When this can be done for a reasonable cost, it will enable engineers to create an internet of things, where everyday objects can sense their environment and communicate with each other.

    A leaf-shaped sonar cell. Image courtesy of Diginova.

  5. Far future

    Nanoscale digital fabrication

    One day, 3D printers may be able to construct materials atom-by-atom, for example by using carbon atoms to make a lightweight material that is harder than diamond. The technology could be used to make things like high-power fuel cells, single-molecule sensors, molecular-scale computer circuits and selectively permeable membranes.

    Artist's impression of atoms. Image courtesy of Shutterstock/ U. Shtanzman.

At the moment, the biggest problem is that 3D printing, or additive manufacturing as it’s known in the industry, is slow and expensive, and it is mostly used by big companies to make prototypes.

However, things are poised to change. The technology is becoming much better, and cheaper. And on top of that, researchers are developing ways to combine 3D printing with other techniques so that electronics and fibre optics can be embedded within devices.

‘There is another set of new products to be discovered basically which have these features in them, and which are not around at the moment, of course, because they cannot be made via conventional technologies,’ said Frits Feenstra, coordinator of the EU-funded SASAM project. ‘People are working on that now.’

The SASAM project focussed on working out what standards and regulations are needed to drive the 3D printing industry forward, and Feenstra believes that the 3D printing sector will really take off in one or two years’ time when the basic standards are in place.

In order to work out what kind of research is required to push forward 3D printing, industry and policymakers have come together as part of the Additive Manufacturing Platform to make recommendations. The document, called a Strategic Research Agenda, suggests things like looking for new materials that would be as strong as cast metal when 3D printed, and teaching university students about 3D printing.

Educational project on informatics and ICT on the topic 3D printers report, project

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Printing devices

Printing devices are devices with which you can get a "hard" copy of a document on paper, cardboard, transparent film or other information carrier.

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3D printers

3D printer-a device using the
layer of a physical object, based on virtual
3D models

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66 3D printing can be done in different ways and using different materials, but any of them is based on the principle of layer-by-layer creation (growing) of a solid object.

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How does the
3D printer work?

The principle of operation of 3D printers is similar to that of a conventional inkjet printer. The main difference is that instead of applying ink from the print head to the next sheet of paper in a 3D printer, the binder is applied through the print head to the next thin (about 0.1 mm) layer of powder, creating one section of the object. In those places where the binder is applied, the powder hardens. The next section is "glued" to the previous one, and so on, until a fully solid body is formed.
After the end of the 3D printer, the product is removed from the powder mass. Where no binder has been applied, the powder remains crumbly and can be reused.

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Engineers have learned how to teleport objects using a 3D printer

The Hasso Plattner Institute in Germany presented a prototype of a device capable of teleporting objects over a distance using 3D printing. The device was named "Scotty" after the operator of the teleportation system from the Star Trek series. The invention was reported by the Daily Mail. The principle of the system is very simple: the first Makerbot Replicator digitizes the object using a camera, destroys it, sends an encrypted instruction to the second printer, which prints the object elsewhere. Moreover, Scotty operates in layers: the milling machine inside the printer cuts off each layer of the object only after sending the photo to the second printer. The user only needs to place the object in the system, select the recipient and click the "move" button. Engineers emphasize that the goal of their project is to preserve the uniqueness of things. Destroying objects exchanged between friends increases their emotional value. However, the main technological task of the system is the fight against piracy. The development of 3D printing leads to the fact that schemes for manufacturing objects can be illegally distributed, and things can be replicated. Destruction of the original guarantees that the thing of the seller (the client of the eBay online store, for example) disappears at the same time as it reaches the buyer. The capabilities of the prototype are still limited. "Scotty" works only with plastic, and painted black (to increase contrast). However, progress in the field of 3D printing should expand the range of items suitable for this kind of teleportation.

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3D printing can be done in different ways and using different materials, but any of them is based on the principle of layer-by-layer creation (growing) of a solid object.
Technologies used to create layers
Laser stereolithography - ultraviolet laser - an ultraviolet laser gradually, pixel by pixel, illuminates a liquid photopolymer, or the photopolymer is illuminated with an ultraviolet lamp through a photomask that changes with a new layer. In this case, the liquid polymer hardens and turns into a fairly durable plastic.
Laser melting (English melting) - in this case, the laser fuses the powder from metal or plastic, layer by layer, into the contour of the future part.
Lamination - a part is created from a large number of layers of the working material, which are gradually superimposed on each other and glued together, while the laser cuts out in each contour of the section of the future part.

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Cooling Set - The dispensing head extrudes drops of heated thermoplastic onto the cooled base platform. The drops quickly harden and stick together, forming layers of the future object.
Polymerization Polymerization of photopolymer plastic under the influence of an ultraviolet lamp - the method is similar to the previous one, but the plastic hardens under the influence of ultraviolet radiation.
Bonding or sintering of powdered material - similar to laser sintering, only the powder base (sometimes based on shredded paper or cellulose) is glued together by a liquid (sometimes adhesive) substance coming from the inkjet head. In this case, it is possible to reproduce the color of the part using substances of different colors. There are examples of 3D printers using inkjet printer heads.
Thick ceramic mixtures are also used as a self-curing material for 3D printing large architectural models.
Bioprinters are early experimental facilities in which the 3D structure of a future object (an organ for transplantation) is printed with drops containing living cells]. Further division, growth and modification of cells ensures the final formation of the object.

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Various printhead positioning technologies are also used:
Cartesian, when three mutually perpendicular guides are used in the design, along each of which either the print head or the base of the model moves.
With the help of three parallelograms, when three radially symmetrically located motors coordinately displace the bases of three parallelograms attached to the print head .
Manual, when the print head is made in the form of a pen / pencil, and the user himself brings it to the place in the space where he considers it necessary to add the rapidly solidifying material released from the tip. Such a device is called “3D pen Manual, when the print head is made in the form of a pen / pencil, and the user himself brings it to the place in space where he considers it necessary to add the rapidly solidifying material released from the tip. Such a device is called a “3D pen”, and can be attributed to 3D printers with a certain stretch. There are variants using a thermopolymer that hardens on cooling, and using a photopolymer that is cured by ultraviolet light.

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Self Reproducing

Some inexpensive 3D printers can print some of their own parts. One of the first such projects is RepRap, some inexpensive 3D printers can print some of their own parts. One of the first such projects is RepRap (run by British designers from the University of Bath) Some low-cost 3D printers can print some of their parts. One of the first such projects is RepRap (run by British designers from the University of Bath), which produces more than half of its own parts. The project is open source design Some inexpensive 3D printers can print some of their own parts. One of the first such projects is RepRap (run by English designers from the University of Bath), which produces more than half of its parts in-house. The project is a open source development and all design information is distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License. A bright activist of the 3D printing movement and this community can be considered with full confidence the young inventor from the Czech Republic, Joseph Pruse, after whom one of the most famous 3D printer models - "Mendel Prusa".

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CAD systems are used after the 3D model is createdAfter the 3D model is created, CAD systems that support 3D printing control are used. In most cases, the STL file format is used for printing. Almost all printers have their own print management software, some of them commercial, some open source. For example, Picaso Builder 3D printer is Polygon, 3DTouch is Axon 2, MakerBot is MakerWare, Ultimaker is Cura. - printing in terms of current practice and prospects for the use of additive manufacturing ( Additive Manufacturing ).

Place 3 D printing in the digital economy

80s of the XX century, however, recently it has acquired a strong growth momentum and continues to develop rapidly.

Additive manufacturing is one of the fundamental technologies for the digital economy. This technology provides that any product will have its own "digital twin" (digital twin), according to which this product can be manufactured locally, in close proximity to the place of need for this product, and not ordered from a warehouse, store or other logistics network. Thus, the development of additive manufacturing will have a transformative, transformative and even disruptive impact on modern logistics, the global mode of production, as well as on the business processes of production in enterprises.

However, despite the rapid growth, additive manufacturing is still far from realizing its potential, far from all possible 3D printing technologies have been developed, and even far from all possible applications of this technology (concept) have been explored. Some of the most unconventional and unusual applications of 3D printing (such as the concept of a “flying” 3D construction printer) are shown in a study by J’son & PartnersConsulting. However, the possibilities of 3D printing go far beyond what is described in this paper.

At present, additive manufacturing is moving from the status of an occupation for enthusiasts, “hobbists”, prototyping and prototype technology, to the stage of mass production technology, in which, however, the term “mass” takes on a completely different connotation. This is not the "mass character" of large-scale production, when due to the production volumes of an absolutely identical product, with minor variations in properties (for example, color), it is possible to achieve a low price and mass availability of the product.

With additive manufacturing, the price of the final product is practically independent of its circulation. In addition, the availability of a digital product model makes it possible to quickly and without high additional costs make modifications to the final product according to the requirements of an individual client. It is quite possible, for example, that the buyer in the future will not look for the shirt he needs in the store, each time making a compromise between his tastes, requests, sizes and assortment of the store, but simply order a shirt at the nearest 3D printing bureau, and exactly the one he needs. I want, and exactly the right size. Technologies for the additive manufacturing of clothing are already being developed.

Processes of localization of production will be observed even in developed countries that have traditionally moved the production of their high-tech products to countries with low labor costs. This threatens to undermine the foundations of today's globalization.

As a result, the unit cost of transportation and logistics will inevitably increase. As more and more goods are produced locally, the unit cost of transportation will inevitably rise. This, in turn, will serve as an incentive for the further expansion of additive manufacturing as a tool for localization of production in order to avoid high transportation costs. As a result, the business of carrier companies will decrease even more, which will again serve as a stimulating factor for the development of regional additive manufacturing.

Additive manufacturing "threatens" to destroy traditional logistics supply chains and disrupt the established system of globalization of production and the international division of labor. The concept of "Made in ..." in the future world of additive manufacturing will lose its importance in the same way that paper cash has lost its importance today. Money is now available at any ATM, and anyone who has a bank card can receive the amount he needs anywhere in the world, or make purchases in any country, without the need to carry paper money with him.

Thus, additive manufacturing has a high potential for what is now called "import substitution". With the high development of additive manufacturing using accessible digital models, the need for “imports” will gradually decrease to the level of transporting products that, for whatever reason, cannot be produced locally. For example, it is impossible to grow bananas beyond the Arctic Circle.

We can say that without the proper development of additive manufacturing, it is impossible to create a "digital economy", since 3D printing is one of its fundamental technologies. The digital economy must produce “digital products”, namely digital models for additive manufacturing. The lack of proper attention to the development of 3D printing, additive manufacturing, threatens to increase the technological gap between developed countries and those that seek to catch up with them in terms of growth in gross national product. Ignoring these trends can lead to a new "digital slavery", when some countries will depend on others, which have the basis for creating "digital models" of products.

of the current use 3 D -Print

Medicine and Dentistry


Medicine -one of the most promising directions of development of 3D -PCP. The global market for 3D printing for medical and healthcare purposes, according to Allied Market Research [1] , is estimated at $2.3 billion by 2020 with a CAGR of 26.2%. In addition, medical and surgical centers are the largest users of 3D printing services, accounting for approximately 75% of the entire medical 3D printing market.

Examples of 3D printing in medicine/dentistry covered in the report:

- 3D print presurgery anatomical model

- 3D printed surgical implants

- Medical models for preparing for operations

- 3D printing inside the human body with a fiber optic needle

- 3D printing of artificial tissues and organs

- 3D bioprinting of human tissue (3D printing of human tissue)

- 3D printing of human skin with natural pigmentation

- SLA bioprinter for printing complex human tissues

- Portable 3D printer for quick "repair" of damaged skin

- 3D printing hearing devices

- 3D printing bureau network for NHS hospitals in the UK

- 3D printed wearables

- 3D printed blood pressure monitor that works via smartphone

- Device for monitoring stomach activity

- Milli-robot capable of penetrating brain tissue

- AlterEgo wearable device capable of recognizing "silent speech".

- Magnetic 3D bioprinter for use on the space station (Russian company "3D Bioprinting Solutions")

- Accurate 3D modeling of organs based on MRI and CT results

- Hybrid biorobot with living muscles

- Microobots for cell regeneration

- 3D printing of drugs (3D Printed Drugs)

- 3D porch for biomedicins (Bioprinting and 3D -Printing in Life Sciences)

9000 9000
000 1] https://www.alliedmarketresearch.com/press-release/3d-printing-healthcare-market.html


5-10% of goods can be 3D printed instead of traditional manufacturing, and the consumer goods 3D printing market will reach $4 trillion. Moreover, it will be the largest sector of the 3D printing market. Cases considered in the report in the field of consumer goods:

- 3D printing of consumer products (Consumer 3D-prining)

- Production of custom-shaped Adidas sneakers

- Wi-Fi connection without the use of electronics

- Additive production of inexpensive high-quality optical lenses

-3D-printing 3D printing in the classroom

Industrial production

the fact that on the Gartner curve this application is shown on the slope of disappointment. Often this means that at the beginning a certain technology or product was accompanied by excessive hype, and after its decline comes some disappointment, but this does not mean a lack of prospects.

Currently, the main applications of 3D printing in manufacturing are design and prototyping. However, 3D printers are already being used in the production of small batches of products when it is necessary to “test the market”, or advertise the product at exhibitions.

In many areas of manufacturing, 3D printers can reduce the time and cost required to produce a viable product.

PWC notes that 91% of industrial companies are actively working on the digital transformation of manufacturing processes ("digital factories"), where 3D printing is receiving a lot of attention, but only 6% of them say that they have fully integrated this concept into the manufacturing process. Companies that plan to implement digital transformation and become a “digital factory” must make both internal and external investments in order to achieve this. This means hiring and training the right people, fundamentally changing production processes, integrating a large amount of software solutions [2] . The use cases of additive technologies considered in the J'son & Partners Consulting report, structured by sectors: 2] https://www.industryweek.com/emerging-technologies/future-advanced-manufacturing-design-3d-printing-and-implementation-digital


building components use the 3D printing method, namely: the sequential production of objects layer by layer from a digital (computer, CAD) 3D model using various materials, including concrete. The additive manufacturing mix is ​​much thicker than regular concrete due to special additives, allowing it to be self-supporting during installation. This opens up wide prospects for changing the usual architecture and geometric shapes.

SmarTech Publishing estimates that the potential for 3D printing in construction could be comparable in scale to the combined volume of additive manufacturing in industry and medicine. Even though the technologies are currently in the experimental and R&D phase, the market will double in the next three years and grow from $70 million in 2017 to $40 billion by 2027. At the same time, $150 million will be sales of materials, $3.5 billion - supplies of equipment and $36 billion revenue from printing services and applications in various fields (including income from specialized 3D printing centers).

Oil and gas sector

3D printing is becoming more and more widespread in the oil and gas industry. According to SmarTech, the oil and gas industry will benefit from 3D printing to reach $450 million in 2021 and about $1.5 billion in 2025 [3] .

For example, General Electric was able to halve the testing and testing process for a new NovaLT16 gas turbine burner using 3D printed prototyping.

Any downtime in the oil and gas industry is very costly, especially at remote wells and offshore platforms, where they cost an average of US$49 million per year.

Additive manufacturing can reduce downtime by reducing the time it takes to develop new equipment and print parts on site. As the development of new fields tends to take place in increasingly remote locations, the prospects for 3D printing in the oil and gas industry look even more enticing.

[3] https://www.ge.com/additive/additive-manaufactoring/industries/oil-gas

Promising development directions 3 9000 9000 9000-print -printing Nanoscale 3D printing

Micro- and nano-scale 3D printing produces lattice-like micro- and nanostructures that can be extremely strong due to their Eiffel Tower-like lattice structure. Nanoscale 3D printing techniques make it possible to obtain materials that, having an anisotropic filamentary structure no thicker than a human hair, can withstand a weight 160 thousand times more than a hair. 3D nanoprinting technology can be used in the production of implants, computer chips, components for miniature drones, and other projects. Tungsten, titanium, ceramics, as well as semiconductors and piezoelectrics can be used as consumables.

4D printing

4D printing adds a "time dimension" to 3D printing. 4D printed products can be transformed after manufacturing, change shape, properties, self-assemble, immediately after printing is completed, or under any external influence.

Possible properties of 4D printed products:

- Sneakers that can change shape and function according to the mode of use (running, walking, jumping, etc.)

- Clothing that can take on the shape of the body and/or color and properties depending on external conditions.

- Self-assembling and molding jewelry.

- Dresses that can be printed in one piece with no seams in a limited printer space and then unfold to fit the body.

5D printing

The idea of ​​5D printing, when the print head moves not only up, but also in four horizontal directions, appeared several years ago. Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs (MERL) has partially implemented this technology. A 5D printer allows additive growth of the starting material not only in one direction (most often upwards), but in many directions. At the same time, the printed object can rotate around five axes, which is what the technology owes its name to. As a result, the print head can follow the shape of the object. At the same time, printed parts can be created with curved layers, and not flat, as in 3D printing. Curved layers provide higher part strength.


Newsletter prepared by J'son & Partners Consulting. We make every effort to provide actual and forecast data that fully reflects the situation and is available at the time of publication of the material. J'son & Partners Consulting reserves the right to revise the data after the publication of new official information by individual players.


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1.1. Basic 3D printing technologies

1.2. The most popular 3D printing technologies.

1.3. Materials for 3D printing

1.4. Current state of 3D printing

1.5. 3D printing market

1.6. Standardization of additive manufacturing (3D printing)

1. 6.1. Europe - SASAM

1.6.2. USA - AMSC

  1. Case Studies of 3D Printing in Several Industries

2.1. Medicine

2.1.1. 3D printing of anatomical models for surgery (3d print presurgery anatomical model)

2.1.2. 3D printing of implants for surgery (3D printed surgical implants).

2.1.3. Medical models for preparation for operations

2.1.4. 3D printing inside the human body with a fiber optic needle

2.1.5. 3D printing of artificial tissues and organs

2.1.6. 3D-bioprinting of human tissues (3D-printing human tissue)

2.1.7. 3D printing of human skin with natural pigmentation

2.1.8. SLA bioprinter for printing complex human tissues

2.1.9. Portable 3D printer for quick "repair" of damaged skin

2.1.10. 3D printing of dental instruments (3d printed dental devices)

2.1.11. 3D printing of hearing devices (3d printing hearing devices)

2. 1.12. Network of 3D printing bureaus for NHS hospitals in the UK

2.1.13. 3D printing of wearable devices (3D printed wearables)

2.1.14. Tonometer created on a 3D printer, working through a smartphone

2.1.15. Device for monitoring stomach activity

2.1.16. Milli-robot capable of penetrating brain tissue

2.1.17. AlterEgo wearable device capable of recognizing "speech to oneself"

2.1.18. Magnetic 3D bioprinter for space station use

2.1.19. Accurate 3D modeling of organs based on MRI and CT results

2.1.20. Hybrid biorobot with living muscles

2.1.21. Microrobots for cell regeneration

2.1.22. 3D printed drugs

2.1.23. 3D printing for biomedicine (Bioprinting and 3D-printing in life sciences)

2.2. Consumables

2.2.1. 3D printing of consumer goods (Consumer 3D-prining)

2.2.2. Manufacture of customized Adidas sneakers

2.2.3. Connecting to Wi-Fi without using electronics

2. 2.4. Additive manufacturing of inexpensive high-quality optical lenses

2.2.5. 3D printing in classrooms (3D-print in the classroom)

2.3. Industrial production

2.3.1. Aerospace and defense industry

2.3.2. 3D printing of electronic components (3D-printed electronics)

2.3.3. Automotive industry

2.4. Construction

2.4.1. Decorative concrete structures

2.4.2. "Flying" 3D printer for the construction of structures of virtually unlimited size

2.5. Oil and gas sector

  1. 3D printing forecasts

3.1. General market prospects

3.2. Promising directions for the development of 3D printing

3.2.1. Nanoscale 3D printing

3.2.2. 4D printing

3.2.3. 5D printing

  1. Conclusion

List of illustrations

Fig. 1 Stages of development of the 3D printing market

Fig. 2 Most Popular 3D Printing Technologies

Pic. 3 Main materials for 3D printers

4 Key users of 3D printing according to 2017 survey

Fig. 5 3D printing priorities according to the survey

6 Most commonly used 3D printing materials

Pic. 7 Most common 3D printing technologies

8 Most popular metals for 3D printing

9 Top priorities for 3D printing in manufacturing

Pic. 10 SASAM project roadmap

Pic. 11 Structure of SASAM

standards 12 AMSC standards structure

Fig. 13 Surgical model of the pelvis and radiograph after surgery

Fig. 14 3D printed vertebra

15 3D printed cranio-maxillofacial models

Fig. 16 3D models of VSP for facial reconstruction obtained on a 3D printer

17 "Needle" - optical fiber

fig. 18 Example of a microstructure obtained by printing through fiber optics

19 Bioprinted Artificial Heart Valve

Fig. 20 The ultimate goal of 3D bioprinting research at Iowa State University

21 3D printed human jawbone

22 Bone implant

fig. 23 Development of a skin repair method for burns

Pic. Fig. 24 Skin samples obtained on a 3D bioprinter

25 Diagram of a bioprinter for printing complex human tissues

26 Portable 3D bioprinter for repairing skin lesions

Fig. Fig. 27 Making a dental prosthesis on a 3D printer

Fig. 28 Individual form of the hearing device created on the 3D printer

Fig. 28 29 Creation of a 3D model of the spine on a 3D printer

Fig. 30 Prototype of a bracelet with thermoelectric modules and a battery charging system

Fig. 31 Principle of operation of the device with thermoelectric modules and battery charging system

Pic. 32 Smartphone blood pressure monitor

Fig. 33 Device for non-invasive monitoring of gastric activity

fig. 34 Milli-robot penetrating tissue brain tissue

Pic. 35 Wearable silent speech recognition device

36 Bioprinter for ISS

37 Brain model made on a 3D printer according to MRI

38 Two hybrid biorobots pick up and carry an object

fig. 39 SEM images of a microrobot cultured with mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) for 12 hours

Fig. Fig. 40 Structure of the microrobot, before cell planting (cell) and after

Fig. Fig. 41 Tumor development in a mouse at the injection site (arrow)

42 3D printed Spiritam

43 Futurecraft 4D outsole

44 “Soap bottle that can order refills by itself

fig. 45 3D printed lens

46 Industrial production using 3D printers

Fig. 47 Lightweight aircraft part made on a 3D printer

48 PCB created with 3D printer

49 3D printer for the production of electronic printed circuit boards

fig. 50 Complex configuration manufactured as one piece

fig. Fig. 51 Dashboard prototype, entirely 3D printed

Fig. 52 Vehicle Alternator Mounting Bracket, SLS Technology

Fig. Fig. 53 Fitting the guide for the window regulator

Fig. 53 Fig. 54 3D printed complex inflatable structures

fig. 55 Integrated suspension piece


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