Aaron Pearson
Vice President of Public Relations

Iterating on design with 3D printing technology. 

What is 3D printing?

3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is the exact opposite of the traditional way of making objects. Instead of machining or "subtracting" material to form an object - much like how a sculptor cuts away clay - 3D printing adds layer upon layer of material to build an object. Product designers and engineers upload a digital (CAD) file to a 3D printer, which then prints a solid 3D object.

Thermoplastics are the most frequently used materials, but the technology also includes photopolymers, epoxy resins, metals, and more. Cutting-edge bioinks, which use a mixture of human cells and gelatin, have also been leveraged to 3D print complex tissue models. Even edible materials such as chocolate are being used in 3D printers.

Exploring the possibilities of 3D printing technology.

CNN reports that the automotive industry is implementing 3D printed parts like shift knobs and cylinder heads in both passenger and racing cars, lowing costs and improving performance. The aerospace industry is producing lightweight 3D-printed table trays and complex 3D-printed parts for jet engines to improve quality and save on energy consumption. The healthcare industry is using 3D printing technology to create medical items, such as prosthetics and organic material, to improve on custom designs for individual patients.

PolyJet 3D printing technology is an ideal choice for creating complex objects in multiple colors and materials, as with intricate brain models for training future neurosurgeons. For many of these industries, 3D printing enables the rapid prototyping of parts in a matter of hours, instead of days. This drastically reduces design-cycle time and helps move products to market faster. Even those without access to a 3D printer can still take advantage of the technology. Direct 3D printing services allow companies to outsource their 3D printing needs by simply transferring a digital design file.

The parts are then 3D printed by the service company and quickly delivered to designers. The benefits of 3D printing over traditional manufacturing cannot be ignored. Forbes reports that industries invest more each year into this groundbreaking technology. With 3D printing enabling more complex design freedom, customization and the use of light-weight, advanced materials, it is revolutionizing design and production for nearly every industry.