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3D Printing. New Horizon Report (2014)

In the New Horizon Report (Johnson, Adams, et. al., 2014, pp. 40-41) the 3D printing technology is reported and discussed. Using plastic material in place of ink as a process for printing discovered the technology. These printers are using 3D technologies based on previous ink jet printing capabilities that have been around for quite a while. The 3D printers have been able to print parts for aerospace, help with designs for architecture, and any other modeling. With the advancements trending in the Maker communities, many hobbyists and consumers have begun to explore the possibilities of 3D printing.

3D printers work by constructing a model using a digitized 3D picture (Hsu, 2013). Ceramics, plastic, or metal is used to construct the print one layer at a time and eventually builds up the model. Although 3D printers are easy to build, they are not used to replace manufacturing robotics or assembly lines. The use is primarily for one time construction. Some uses include replication of items that are too fragile to handle. Additionally, items that are used for building prototypes are often used for printing. 3D printing has been around since the mid 1980s, but wide spread use has been observed in the last 5 years.

3d printing has been recently used for many disciplines including art, design, and medical fields. Future trends include replication of human organs using inking materials that match human tissue. Universities have been exploring the possible growth of 3D printing for students of technology. Taking coneept to prototype is one of the strengths of 3D printing (Johnson, Adams, et. al., 2014, pp. 40-41).

3D printers have grown in uses and are now more affordable. Figure 1 shows the Cube 3D printer (3D printing and you., n.d.). This printer costs around $1000. Printers a few years ago were much more expensive. With the current line of printers the molding material is inserted like a print cartridge. This process has a high usability factor because of the similarity of an inkjet printer. Once the material is inserted a 3D software creator reads the layers of the object and creates the final product. Research is predicted to grow in the teaching environment (Johnson, Adams, et. al., 2014, pp. 40-41) because students and instructors can easily and quickly explore possible prototypes in the classroom. Previously, such items usually would be sent to an injection-molding site and turnaround time was days or weeks. Now the classroom creates the project, prints the item, tests, and re-tests if necessary in a matter of hours.


cubePrinter

Figure 1. 3D Cube printer.

References

Hsu, B. (2013, May 21). 3D Printing: What a 3D Printer Is and How It Works. Retrieved from http://www.livescience.com/34551-3d-printing.html

Johnson, L., Adams, Becker, S., Estrada, V., Freeman, A. (2014). NMC Horizon report: 2014 Higher education edition,. Austin, Texas: The new media consortium

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