In the last few years, there has been a media explosion about 3D printing which has led to a huge amount of interest in the technology in new areas. The increasing affordability and availability of 3D printing machines has allowed the technology to be used in a wide range of new areas such as jewellery design, fashion, and the home ‘hobbyist’ market.
On top of this, bespoke 3D printing has become much more prevalent in high-tech areas such as automotive, aerospace and medical industries. The rapid turnaround and ability to print complicated parts that may not be viable to produce using traditional manufacturing methods has opened up a wide range of possibilities in these areas. Super-light aircraft and vehicles, incredible shapes and styles, and 3D printed inserts for use in the human body are only some of the more exciting developments in the 3D printing world.
Recently, a pioneering facial reconstruction operation was performed on a patient using 3D scanning and printing technologies to rebuild their facial structure – find out about it here
The possibilities with 3D printing technology are seemingly endless, there is even the possibility of being able to 3D print human organs in the future.
At Duku, we’re very familiar with the world of 3D printing, as we often use the process when creating early prototypes during the product development process.
3D printers come in all shapes and sizes, and varying levels of quality. They can print models from a wide range of materials, including plastics, metals, paper and even food!
In order to create a 3D print, you first need a CAD (Computer Aided Design) model. A CAD model creates the 3D data that is required in order to manufacture your 3D print. There are websites available that allow you to create models based upon pre-existing templates, but if you’re after something truly bespoke then you will need to commission the services of a product design company to create your CAD model for you. Duku offer a wide range of CAD services to suit all budgets and projects Find out more about our CAD design services here and contact us to discuss how we can help you create a unique design and 3D print.
There are now a huge variety of 3D printers on the market, but the process in which they work is nearly always the same. Essentially, they work in a similar way to an everyday desktop printer, by adding a material (in this case plastic instead of ink) to a surface. A 3D printer slices your CAD model into thousands of ultra-thin layers and then builds up the profile of your CAD model one layer at a time, adding a thin layer of material every time the print head moves over the model. When you look closely at a 3D printer, you will be able to see these individual layers. Generally, the better the quality of the 3D printer, the better the resolution of the finished model and the less visible the layers.
Whilst the 3D printing revolution is no doubt exciting, it is not yet at the stage where it has become a viable manufacturing method for mass market products, what it does offer however, is the chance for people to explore their ideas more readily in 3D as well as offer the opportunity for high end users to create bespoke, one off parts without investing in expensive tooling.
At Duku, we currently see 3D printing as a valuable part of a wider prototyping and product development process, that allows us to explore and test ideas and create a better end product as a result.
This video gives an interesting overview of how 3D printing works and some of the current applications.
We look forward to the day when we can print production standard parts at the touch of a button! Although this does open up an argument about to protect innovations when technology exists that will allow home users to reproduce designs so easily.
In the meantime, contact Duku to discuss how we can assist with product development, 3D printing and the manufacture of your invention.