3D printing

  • IASbaba
  • August 17, 2022
  • 0
Science and Technology
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In News: Researchers from Hyderabad have 3D-printed an artificial cornea and transplanted it into a rabbit’s eye.

What is 3D Printing?

  • 3D printing uses computer-aided design (CAD) to create three-dimensional objects through a layering method.


  • In 3D printing, a 3D printer makes a three-dimensional object from a CAD (computer-aided design) file.
  • The creation of a 3D printed object is achieved using additive processes.
  • In an additive process an object is created by laying down successive layers of material until the object is created.
  • Each of these layers can be seen as a thinly sliced cross-section of the object.
  • 3D printing enables us to produce complex shapes using less material than traditional manufacturing methods.

Working of a 3-D Printer

  • A typical 3D printer is very much like an inkjet printer operated from a computer.
  • It builds up a 3D model one layer at a time, from the bottom upward, by repeatedly printing over the same area in a method known as fused depositional modeling (FDM).
  • Working entirely automatically, the printer creates a model over a period of hours by turning a 3D CAD drawing into lots of two-dimensional, cross-sectional layers—effectively separate 2D prints that sit one on top of another.

What kind of “ink” does a 3D printer use?           

  • Where an inkjet printer sprays liquid ink and a laser printer uses solid powder, a 3D printer uses neither.
  • The 3-D printer deposits layers of molten plastic or powder and fuses them together (and to the existing structure) with adhesive or ultraviolet light.

The most common 3D printing raw materials are the commodity thermoplastic polymers:

  • Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS)
  • Polylactic acid (PLA)
  • Polyethylene terephthalate glycol-modified (PETG).

Advantages of 3D Production Process

  • Faster production – 3D printing can manufacture parts within hours, which speeds up the prototyping process. This allows for each stage to complete faster.
  • Better quality products – 3D printing produces a consistent quality of product.
  • Great for design and product testing – 3D printing is one of the best tools for product design and testing. It offers opportunities to design and test models to allow refinement with ease.
  • Cost-effective – 3D printing, can be a cost-effective means of production. Once the model is created, the process is usually automated, and raw material waste tends to be limited.
  • Product designs are almost infinite – The possibilities of 3D printing are almost limitless.
  • 3D printers can print using various materials – Some 3D printers can actually blend or switch between materials. In traditional printing, this can be difficult and expensive.
  • Environmentally Friendly – As this technology reduces the amount of material wastage used this process is inherently environmentally friendly.
  • Advanced Healthcare: 3D printing is being used in the medical sector to help save lives by printing organs for the human body such as livers, kidneys and hearts. Further advances and uses are being developed in the healthcare sector


  • Reduction in Manufacturing Jobs: There could be potential reduction in human labour, since most of the production is automated and done by printers.
  • Limited Materials: 3D Printing can create items in a selection of plastics and metals. But the available selection of raw materials is not exhaustive. This is due to the fact that not all metals or plastics can be temperature controlled enough to allow 3D printing. In addition, many of these printable materials cannot be recycled and very few are food safe
  • Restricted Build Size: 3D printers currently have small print chambers which restrict the size of parts that can be printed. Anything bigger will need to be printed in separate parts and joined together after production. This can increase costs and time.
  • Design Inaccuracies: Some printers having lower tolerances, meaning that final parts may differ from the original design.
  • Part Structure: With 3D printing parts are produced layer-by-layer. Although these layers adhere together it also means that they can delaminate under certain stresses or orientations.

3D printing has the potential to democratize the production of goods, from food to medical supplies, to great coral reefs. In the future, 3D printing machines could make their way into homes, businesses, disaster sites, and even outer space. As this technology spreads, it could help connect marginalized and difficult-to-reach populations with essential products. All in all, this emerging technology has the potential to revolutionize our societies, and transform the development sector.

Source: The Hindu

Previous Year Question

Q.1) “3D printing” has applications in which of the following? (2018)

  1. Preparation of confectionery items
  2. Manufacture of bionic ears
  3. Automotive industry
  4. Reconstructive surgeries
  5. Data processing technologies

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

  1. 1, 3 and 4 only
  2. 2, 3 and 5 only
  3. 1 and 4 only
  4. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5


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