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The age of 3D printing

The tech industry is consistently ruled by trends . One of the happening trends in the technology vertical right now is 3D Printing . If you are a regular user of the web , in some way or the other you might have heard about this buzz word ” 3D printing ” . All of the sudden there seems to be a lot of innovation happening around the 3D printing area and many entrepreneurs have jumped into the bandwagon . Crowd funding sites like Kickstarter etc. have been bombarded with 3D printing projects and most have been funded heavily .

Ok – What is 3D printing ?

The traditional manufacturing of objects was done using Dyes involving a subtractive process ( ie. drilling and clearing out material from a block to attain the desired size ) . But with 3D printing it involves the additive process where in no material is wasted and layers of materials are plied to attain the desired shape .

How did it all start ?

Stereolithography is the basics of 3D printing and this technology was patented by Chuk Hull in the late 1980′s and he eventually founded the 3D Systems Inc. As mentioned earlier Stereolithography is all about creating solid objects be it using the subtractive or the addictive method . Since then the technology has been growing silently and has boomed off late to new heights .

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How is 3D printing done ?

We all have seen the every day 2D printing on normal paper – where in we give a file format to the computer ( .jpg , .doc etc. ) and get the content printed out on the paper . In the same manner 3D printing is possible with the file format .STL ( stands for Standard Tessellation Language ) . 3D designs of the TO-BE printed material are made using software like CAD , MAYA etc. and the .STL file is processed by the printer and the 3D printing is done .

Note : .STL files can also be easily made by using 3D scanners . There are also mobile phone apps available the will convert your smart phone into a 3D scanner . Where-in the flash on your mobile phone illuminates the object as a streak of light and as the object rotates the camera on your mobile keeps taken various photographs of the object along the illuminated light streak to make it into a 3D file .

Once the 3D format ( .STL ) file is passed through the 3D printer the process of additive 3D printing starts . Printing happens layer over layer bringing in the desired 3D shape  . When it comes to 3D printing there is a common assumption that 3D printing is done using plastic objects alone . But 3D printing now-a-days are done using numerous materials that includes metal , plastic , fiber etc.

3D Printing Templates :

The boom of the 3D printing market has bought in a big demand for ready made 3D printing templates , that can be readily used to get 3D printed objects . Like how people buy turn key website templates to get their sites up and running in minutes , a good demand for ready made 3D printing templates has come into picture . This has opened up opportunities for 3D designers to design 3D printing templates of innovative objects and sell it in 3D printing template marketplaces . So basically interested folks can browse through pictures of 3D objects designed by 3D template designers and buy the .SLT files of the same ( Using which they can print the object ) . Or else they can use online services to print those 3D objects and ship it to them .

3D Printing companies

Sweat not – If you dont have a 3D printer . There are numerous 3D printing companies out there in the market that can do an amazing 3D printing job for you and ship you the deliverable . Online 3D printing services like Shapeways.com , Sculpteo.com etc. make your 3D printing job much easier . All you need to do is either give them your 3D printing template or you can optionally browse through the list of 3D printing templates these companies have and place the order .

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