3D printing is a very interesting form of manufacturing technology in my opinion. This technology allows for the creation of truly custom parts and pieces. In fact, I want to highlight on the entirely custom products in particular with this article. Before we can do that, I'd like to cover what 3D printing is first, and how it works.
3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is essentially the layer by layer creation of parts. Usually, a machine will lay down small layers of material, one layer at a time - sometimes much smaller than the diameter of a human hair. These small layers will continually stack up, until a final product emerges. This process allows for the creation of some seriously intricate parts which couldn't be produced through other technologies or by hand. How does this process actually work? Well, first - an artist, designer, engineer, or whatever you'd like to call it will create a design. Usually this designer will make the piece through 3D software on a computer. This 3D model will then be sent to a manufacturing facility or printer. These 3D printers will then take the design and use it as a blueprint. Because 3D printing revolves around a CAM system, or a computer aided manufacturing system, it will use the blueprint, or 3D model, and it will create a piece to the exact dimensions. Well, not always the exact dimensions, but pretty close! If a design has some details that are incredibly detailed, and the printer is using a low resolution material, it might not turn out. Regardless, the computer in the printer will tell the ink jets exactly where to lay down material.
This process is great for entirely unique situations. Some of these situations involve the use of prosthetics. Perhaps a patient was born with severe birth defects or had a harsh accident. Maybe this person's situation involved the loss of a leg. Through 3D printing, very efficient and unique prosthetics can come about! Some designs involve the creation of truly artistic pieces and beautiful curves. A "base" frame is used so that the prosthetic is functional, and the designers will then "trick out" the rest of the prosthetic. This gives users a very unique artificial leg. The same thing can be said for other applications, such as face implants. Perhaps a user had weak bones, an accident, or whatever! Doctors and engineers have used 3D printing to aid & take over facial reconstruction through various materials. 3D scanning used in conjunction with 3D printing allows for the creation of incredibly precise models and pieces. These pieces are then used to create prosthetics. With the creation of entirely unique pieces, who knows what else can happen through the world of prosthetics? For every individual case and situation, a piece can be manufactured from 3D printing. For whatever variation a patient might have, 3D printing can likely help out by creating an entirely unique piece. No matter the dimensions, with few limitations on the design structure or material, 3D printing can save the day!
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