3D printing is a process of making three-dimensional solid objects from a digital file.
The creation of a 3D printed object is achieved using additive processes, where successive layers of material are laid down in different shapes. 3D printing is the opposite of subtractive manufacturing which involves taking away materials to create an object.
3D printing enables you to produce complex (functional) shapes using less material than traditional manufacturing methods.
Here are ten fun facts about 3D Printing:
1. One of the first ever items to be 3D printed was a simple dental crown created in 1983 by Hideo Kodama.
2. In May 2013, NASA announced that they had successfully tested the world’s first 3D-printed part on the International Space Station – a ratchet wrench!
3. China has become home to the world’s largest fleet of 3D printers – with over 22,000 machines in operation as of 2016.
4. You can now print food using 3D printers! Popular items include pizza, chocolate and even human organs… although we’re not sure how appetising those last ones would be!
5. In 2014, British artist Marc Quinn used a 3D printer to create a life-size replica of his own head out of 9 litres of his own blood!
6. A company called Voxeljet creates huge sandstone sculptures using industrial-sized 3D printers – some weighing in at over 5 tonnes!
7. The world’s first fully functioning gun made entirely via 3D printing was fired in 2013 by Cody Wilson, who made it available as open source design online so anyone could download and print their own version if they wanted to.
8. Despite being around for over 30 years now, consumer level interest in 3d printing only really took off within the past decade or so – with one study suggesting that awareness levels have increased from 16% globally in 2009 to 56% by 2016!
9. Within just two years between 2010 and 2012 the price per unit volume of commercial grade 3d printers fell by 90%, making them much more affordable for small businesses and individual consumers alike.
10. Did you know that there’s now such thing as bioprinting? This relatively new technology uses living cells instead of plastic filaments to build structures layer by layer – meaning that someday soon we may be able to print entire human organs for transplantation purposes!