Just when you feel contented and think that this is the end of it, the scientists and technologists surprise you with something even more bizarre, revolutionary idea which ultimately takes you back to think – “Yes.. this was remaining”. Consider any technological innovation or scientific theory, and you will be amazed to find out that how the idea progressed, fueled by radical thoughts, to keep on shaping up and re-shaping the future. In this post, we’ll discuss about one such idea which has the potential to turn around things spanning over innumerable areas that we come across in our daily lives.
Until now we believed that printing could only be done in 2-D. But, as usual, we were proven wrong by the innovative minds. Imagine, you want to get a showpiece model of your favourite Audi R8 with the minutest of details. What would you do? Just walk into your room, upload the digital car model into your printer and the job is done. Yes, the output would be a 3-D model. Sounds somewhat like Star Trek Replicator right? Well this has been made possible by 3-D printing technology which is making it easier and faster to produce complex objects with multiple moving parts and intricate design in an impeccable manner.
How Does a 3-D Printer Work?
By now you must be curious to further explore the processes behind 3-D printing technology. So let us understand the science behind it. Additive manufacturing, which means creating an object by adding material to the object layer by layer, is the family of manufacturing technology that includes 3-D printing. It’s much like printing in two dimensions on a sheet of paper, but with an added third dimension. Each of these printed layers is a thinly-sliced, horizontal cross-section of the eventual object. Imagine a pizza maker is laying down one thin layer at a time until the entire pizza is formed. The process is somewhat similar.
In order to perform its function, a 3D printer needs to have a Computer Aided Design (CAD) file, which is created using 3D modelling program, and instructions for what to print. The created a file that is sent to the 3D printer. Along the way, the program slices the design into thousands of digital cross sections for the machine. To perform print function, the machine reads the design and lays down successive layers of liquid, powder, paper or sheet material to build the 3D model from a series of cross sections. These layers are joined or automatically fused to create the final shape.
Miniature human organs has been created using 3D printing technology which would enable better and realistic drug testing ground for understanding the reaction of human body to dangerous diseases, chemical warfare agents and new drugs. The intention is to defend against biological or chemical attacks. These tiny organs represent small groups of human tissue of these organs connected together by a system of fluid channels that circulate blood substitute to keep the cells alive. This means that researchers can introduce biological or chemical agents into the blood substitute to see how it affects the different organs.
A 3D food printer is up and running at the French Culinary Institute in Manhattan and if experts are to be believed, it would be at your home in next 5 yrs.!! A group of scientists and students at Cornell University built a 3D printer and began testing it out with food. The printer's syringes were loaded up with raw liquid food, such as soft chocolate, and ingredient-filled syringes will then "print" the shape that you want depending upon the description of how that shape can be made and how the material that you want to print with works.
Chinese scientists have successfully printed ears, livers and kidneys, with living tissue using this technology using specialized 3D bio printers that use living cells instead of plastic. According to the research team, the printer takes less than an hour to produce either a mini liver sample or a four to five inch ear cartilage sample. It has also been predicted that fully functional printed organs may be possible within the next ten to twenty years.
NASA has successfully created 3D-printed parts for rocket engines. One of these is the largest 3D-printed rocket part built to date, a rocket engine injector, which has survived a major hot-fire test. The injector generated 10 times more thrust than any injector made by 3D printing before. Also, 3D printing can reduce the number of parts needed to build a rocket engine. The injector in this test, for example, was made in two parts, while a similar injector from earlier tests had 115 parts.
Future of 3-D Printing Technology
By now you must have realized how disruptive 3D printing technology is. If pushed ahead properly, it would have positive effects on energy usage, waste, customization, product availability, medicine, construction, the sciences, manufacturing and many more industries. It will change the world as we know it.