An accessible introduction to 3D printing that outlines the
additive manufacturing process, industrial and household markets,
and emerging uses. The use of 3D printing-digitally controlled
additive manufacturing-is growing rapidly. Consumer models of 3D
printers allow people to fabricate small plastic objects, from
cabinet knobs to wedding cake toppers. Industrial uses are becoming
widespread, as businesses use the technology to fabricate
prototypes, spare parts, custom-fitted prosthetics, and other
plastic or metal items, often at lower cost and with greater
efficiency than standard manufacturing. In this volume in the MIT
Press Essential Knowledge series, John Jordan offers an accessible
introduction to 3D printing, describing the printing process,
industrial and household markets, and emerging uses. Jordan
outlines the stages of 3D printing, from idea to software model to
a printable file that slices the planned object into printable
layers to the finished object itself. He describes additive
technologies, consumer 3D printing in homes and schools, mass
customization (which can create tens of millions of unique items),
and industrial uses. Jordan explains that although 3D printers have
not become the ubiquitous home appliance once predicted, they are
making inroads into mass markets; and he discusses the business
factors that may hinder industry adoption of 3D printing
technologies. He considers the possible unintended consequences of
3D printing on jobs, as companies scramble to find employees with
an uncommon skill set; on business models and supply chains, as
manufacturing is decentralized; and on patent law, as machines can
be programmed to copy protected property. Finally, Jordan looks at
new and emerging uses, including bioprinting, building
construction, and micromachines.
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