What is 3D printing?
During this pandemic, there has been more in the news about 3D printing from
companies and colleges printing face shields to making parts for ventilators
faster, etc. The question for many of you is what is 3D printing that they are
Normal printing as we have know since Guttenberg is where he put an image on
a paper or some other object but it is 2D, it is just flat on paper and not
something you can feel (braille crosses to a very limited 3D).
With 3D the printer (which is really a lot more than printer in traditional since of
word) you can create objects that we have used the term of printing them as it
works similar to the traditional printing process. Instead of just one sweep across
paper and flat it uses filament that is melted and placed on a surface and then
keeps moving higher and distributing more melted filament.
With this approach you can literally manufacture parts using a program that has
been made of how to print the part.
There are free plans for lots of items that you can get and run in a 3D printer and
create. Old car enthusiasts will use 3D printers to make new parts for their cars
that manufacturers no longer make. I have a toy plastic computer from 1963
(very limited with a 3-bit display but works) and some one wrote plans for the
parts and I have printed some parts. You can also buy programs and you can
make your own programs/specifications (I have no gotten that far. A great site
for tons of items is thinkiverse.com
Being used to increase our production in USA of face shields was able to do
quickly. 3D printing has been around for about 20 years but only in last few
years has the size f printers gotten smaller and available to individuals and the
price has fallen greatly.
The filament (ink) some in different colors and is on spools and the spools of
filament look like the spools of filament to use in a weed eater to trim weeds.
There is filament that is plastic (common) and plant based (environmentally
better and safer for parts around children)
We will see 3D printers used more and more for individual and mass
manufacturing is my expectation. They are being used by big manufacturers to
Send me your questions about computers to me at the paper or to my e-mail
[email protected] and tell me you read this in this paper. I will pick a
question to answer each week.
Dwight Watt does computer work for businesses, individuals and organizations
and teaches about computers at a college in northwest Georgia. His webpage is
www.dwightwatt.com His e-mail address is [email protected]