Expo Industrial highlights the role of emerging additive manufacturing technologies in everyday business and industrial scale manufacturing by providing a portal for upcoming 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing events and expos around the world.
3D Design and Rapid Prototyping
3D models represent a physical object using a collection of points connected by shapes such as triangles, lines, and other surfaces. 3D models can be created by a 3D Designer using a modelling program, algorithmically, or scanned. The movie and game industry has used 3D design for characters and objects in animated sequences or as part of the fabric of the game. Science and medicine use 3D Design to model real chemical and body parts and architecture for demonstrating virtual buildings and landscapes. In engineering and manufacturing 3D models form the basis for physical parts that are built with 3D printers or automated-machines. Whole repositories, for example Thingiverse, of objects exist that can be downloaded a modeled file and printed using a range of 3D printing devices.
The Rapid Prototyping process is creating geometric data that plots the shape and surfaces of a model using either CAD or modelling software, or from a scanning device. A valid geometric model requires that the design has an inside and and outside and therefore can be created in a physical form. Rapid prototyping has traditionally be done by modeling in software and and a model-builder will translate to a physical object to create a mold for production. With the advances in additive manufacturing it is now possible for machines to accurate reproduce 3D designs by layering materials to produce a physical 3D representation of the design.
Critically the capacity of devices to make physical representations of 3D designs is an important advance in manufacturing and has lead to a whole array of new industries from home-based manufacturing and distributed manufacturing of plastic and composite materials to using additive manufacturing of tissue and even complete dwelling structures. It is the seemingly never-ending capacity to fabricate just about anything in many different materials automatically from a set of instructions that has captured the attention of the media and businesses alike.
This level of automation enables previously uneconomical short-run production to take place almost anywhere and also has implications for science, space and the construction industry. The capacity to manufacture on-site will see the ever-increasing bespoke and personalisation of manufacturing while enabling individuals to effective manufacture as-required components.
The 3D printer is destined to become another household computer peripheral enabling faster development of ideas and turning amateur designers into every-day inventors. Small business are also being revolutionised by the capacity to rapidly develop and test in-house products that previously required significant lead-time and investment and further to produce items in small quantities as needed and where required.