The process of manufacturing items used to be painstaking and time consuming. Before the Industrial Revolution, people would either work on a farm or in a small workshop. Everything had to be created by hand – even the cotton needed for producing clothing. The cloth was created by hand, and was a very inefficient process that resulted in low wages.
However, after the 18th century, machines were created to produce cloth and textiles that were needed for everyday use. This revolution of production created a boom in industry and comfort. This was due to the fact that items could be produced on a much larger scale. This ‘mass-production’ ended up driving down costs of goods and allowed more people to live in comfort.
Now, it is 3D printing that will bring about the next revolution. 3D printing is also called ‘additive manufacturing’ (AM). Additive manufacturing became popular after 2003. Since more businesses are using 3D printing for certain manufacturing processes, the cost of 3D printers have decreased. The decrease in start-up cost for 3D printing will allow more companies to purchase 3D printers, thus reducing costs even further.
In order for an item to be printed in 3D, it must first be created in a CAD program. After the 3D model has been created, the image is sent to the printer. The printer reads the image and produces the object in much the same way as a traditional printer. Using sheet materials, powders, and liquids, various 3-dimensional objects can be ‘printed’ and then used.
The process can be time consuming, depending on the intricacy of the object being printed, but it is so versatile that its uses are nearly endless. Imagine having a machine that can create nearly anything without the need to exchange large pieces of hardware. 3D printers can produce circuit boards, jewelry, and many other products. For manufacturing, the options are virtually limitless and the technology is going to bring about another revolution.