• How Does 3D Printing Work?   

Chromatography

How Does 3D Printing Work?   

Jun 26 2014


3D printing is the exciting new innovation whereby a three-dimensional, solid object can be created purely from a virtual design on a computer, and quite literally, printed into existence. Though the process is technically not that new, having been pioneered over 20 years ago, it is only now reaching a point where it can be commercially viable, even for home use. The possibilities of 3D printing are virtually endless – imagine being able to design and create absolutely any object you want from a wide range of materials, all at the touch of a button? This is the future.

The Process

The process of 3D printing all begins with a simple (or, more accurately, fairly complex) computer design. Using digital modelling software, either through computer aided design (CAD) or with the help of animation modelling software, you create a unique, original object from your imagination. If you aren’t comfortable with all the technological know-how, you can order a pre-made design online.

After that, the blueprint of your object is divided into cross-sections, which will be systemically layered on top of each other to create the object. Then it is sent to the 3D printer, which will painstakingly add each layer on top of each other. Because of this fact, 3D printing is known as “additive manufacturing”, as opposed to “subtractive manufacturing”, the more traditional method, which works by cutting or “subtracting” material from a whole to make it into a desired shape.

The Materials

There are a wide-ranging variety of materials from which you can construct your object. The most common are paper, plastic, rubber, metal or polyurethane-like substances. However, very exciting new developments in the field of science are attempting to use a human tissue substitute in order to recreate body parts, either for surgical or forensic use. The article 3D Printer 'Bioink' Could Be Next Lab Equipment Breakthrough discusses in more detail the astonishing possibilities uncovered by such an invention.

The Applications

As mentioned above, the possible applications for 3D printing are potentially limitless. It is already being used in industries as varied as medicine, dentistry, automobile production, industrial design and biochemistry, as well as the more obvious home-uses of arts and crafts.

One huge benefit of 3D printing is the precision which the process allows the designer to take in creating the object. For example, in the field of chemistry, scientists are looking at how pre-packed gas chromatography columns can be more precisely engineered to improve performance and efficiency. The article The Effects of Bead Overlap on Performance of 3D Printed Pre-Packed Bed Columns explores the possibilities and ramifications of such advantages more thoroughly.


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