Tuesday 12 November 2019
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What She Said! with Christine Bentley & Kate Wheeler
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Living in a 3D Printed World by Ashley Saunders & Karen Majerly

We hear about 3D printing pretty regularly now, from pretend medical research on Grey’s Anatomy to real news stories about 3D-printed guns, cars, or even houses. Most people have heard something about it, but it still remains a mystery to others.

In reality, it’s not much like “printing” at all. It’s additive manufacturing, meaning that 3D printing adds only the material needed to make the piece. This differs from traditional manufacturing, in which you take a lot of material and carve it away until you’re left with what you need.

Picture an artist carving away at plaster to make a statue. She takes a long time to create her shape and cannot go back and undo a misstep. With 3D printing, you have both speed and flexibility. You can get the final product in your hands within hours, and if it’s not quite right, you can go back and fix the errors – digitally on screen – and reprint.

Well beyond the shop floor

Rapid manufacturing is only the beginning of what 3D printing can do. Customization plus creativity equals unlimited potential. If you get the right technology in the hands of the right people, imagination quickly takes over.

Adding 3D scanning kicks it up another notch. You can scan your own fingerprint and print it into a dress or necklace. Add colour and you can make your own branded wrapping paper!

It’s easy to see why creative types are making the shift from function to fun. 3D printing, combined with an artist’s passion for, well, art, allows us to capture moments and memories in beautiful 3D-printed pieces.

Imagine having a lifelike model of your daughter perfectly poised en pointe, or your lovable Labrador sprawled out on the couch. From people to pets to insects to cars to body parts (and everything in between) – creative minds have a whole new canvas!

How it works – from concept to completion

  1. An artist creates a 3D design, such as a digital sculpt of an animal or a prototype for a machine part.
  2. She uploads a print file to a designated location.
  3. The computer sends the information to a 3D printer.
  4. The 3D printer starts laying down material (lots of different mixtures are available) one layer at a time until a three-dimensional “thing” begins to develop.
  5. Once the printer has finished making the shape (several hours, often overnight) and time has been allotted for “curing” (sitting there!) the item is removed from the print bed.
  6. Surface powder is then removed from the product to ensure proper colour shows through, and then treated through our state-of-the-art finishing process.
  7. Poof! 3D-printed stuff! (No magic involved.) 3D printing technologies have been around for years, but the ways in which we use them are changing every day. It’s only the beginning!

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