Sunday, 2 May 2021

3D Printing Materials


Market demand for 3D printing & 3D printers continues to expand, with a wide range of industries from Medicine to Aerospace adopting 3D printing in their operations. This market expansion & the need to cater diverse product & design requirements across industries has resulted in a host of new 3D printing materials to be discovered. From plastics, resins & metals, Carbon Fibre & Nitinol are also being used for 3D printing based on specific project requirements. 

Plastics remain the most common 3D printing material to be used today. Plastics offer the advantage of multiple applications for products from ranging from utensils, toys & action figures to household fixtures. Plastics are the most affordable 3D printing material, a major reason for them being the choice of creators & consumers as well. Polysastic Acid or PLA filaments are eco-friendly, as they are sourced form natural products. Found both in hard & soft forms they are expected to be the most common material for 3D printing, with hard PLA being ideal for a broad range of products. Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene or ABS is another plastic that is commonly used in home-based 3D printers. Available in various colours, ABS is used mostly for making Toys, Jewellery, due to its high flexibility & firmness. Some other plastics used for 3D printing are Polyvinyl Alcohol Plastic or PVA & Polycarbonate or PC. PVA & PC however do not offer the range of applications provided by PLA or ABS due to lower strength & are often low-cost alternatives. 

Resins are also used as 3D printing materials, but have less flexibility & strength as compared to plastics. High detail resins are used for models that require intricate details, while paintable resins are used for smooth surface 3D prints. Transparent resin is the strongest resin material & is suitable for a large range of 3D printed products. 

Manufacturers of air-travel equipment & makers of aircraft use metals to 3D print parts & aircraft, using a method called Direct Metal Laser Sintering or DMLS. The technique is also used for a diverse range of everyday items like utensils & even jewellery items like bracelets, among others. Metals are also used for 3D printing medical tools & devices, prototypes of metal instruments and even automobile parts. Stainless steel, Bronze, Nickel, Titanium, Gold, Aluminium are the most commonly used metals for 3D printing. 

Exotic materials like Carbon Fibre, Graphite, Graphene are used to print parts with requirements of higher strength & integrity. Combination of carbon fibre over plastic is used as a fast & easy alternative to metal 3D printing. Graphene & Nitinol (a combination of Nickel & Titanium) provide the highest amount of strength & flexibility of any 3D printing material. Advances in application Graphene in 3D printing of solar panel equipment & Nitinol in medical equipment is bound to revolutionize a host of industries including electronics & medicine. 

All these various applications of diverse materials for 3D printing are bound to expand the market for 3D printing through new levels of adoption & application in varied industries.

Monday, 26 April 2021

3D Printing In Food Industry

Steady progress has characterized 3D printing since its invention in the 1980s. From printing thermoplastics to metals, 3D printers can now print your favourite food. 

One way of 3D printing food involves depositing the ‘build material’ of the food item involved, layer by layer using a nozzle, that extrudes food of even consistency & proper viscosity. It is important for the food item being printed, that the build material should emerge smoothly from the nozzle & it must maintain its shape upon deposition. This method of direct deposition allows creation of intricate & detailed designs of food, as opposed to traditional tools like moulds, which are cost effective for quantity production, but offer little to no design intricacy. 

However, when it comes to foods that start out as liquids, like flavoured gelatin for example, deposition methods of 3D printing are incompatible. In such cases, moulds created using stereolithography or SLA, can be used. Due to the amazing detail SLA brings to 3D printing, it is possible to add detail & customization to foods that was once only possible for skilled artisans. 

3D printing brings a high level of customization to food production. A 3D printer can help determine the exact quantity of vitamins, carbohydrates, fats as per the user’s age & health requirement. It also helps people with no cooking skills to cook highly accurate recipes while saving time & energy, often demanded by traditional cooking methods. 3D printing food can also aid creativity & innovation, as it is easy to experiment with different types of food dishes by customizing ingredients & modifying compositions. 3D printing food is also sustainable, as 3D printers only use the required amount of raw material to make food. Reproducing food is also easier with 3D printing as the same materials are used, minimizing waste & helping in efficient use of raw materials. 

Food safety however, remains a concern in 3D printing food. 3D printed food is developed in minimal time, restricting the cooking of food at certain temperatures. This might help microbes that can contaminate the food grow, requiring adherence to standard practices & guidelines. Also, different cooking ingredients have different storage & cooking requirements. Thus, they cannot be placed together in one container when 3D printing food. Food manufacturers also must consider the skill & training required to operate 3D printers. Stringent food safety standards & training needed to operate 3D food printers, make 3D printing food a high cost investment for FMCG companies. 

With advances in materials & 3D printing technology; however, higher adoption of 3D printing in food manufacturing is on the horizon. This will not only revolutionize the food industry but also have a positive impact on the environment by reducing wastage of raw materials.

Monday, 19 April 2021

3D Printing In Construction


3D printing in Construction remains a unique & rather new approach to an industry characterized & influenced by traditional approaches. A few examples of 3D printed houses & offices do exist, but 3D Construction is a long way from being the default technique of constructing houses or structures. 

3D construction of a structure, whether a house or any other building, is achieved using a 3D printer attached to an arm used to build a project onsite. 3D printers may also print or pre-fabricate parts of a building in a factory which can then be put together later at the construction site. 3D printers used in construction are unlike other 3D printers, as they require materials that dry/cool rather quickly, forming the intended structure.

3D printing can help the Construction embrace the ‘lean’ concept of manufacturing. A good amount of waste is generated at construction sites, often because excess material is ordered. This makes construction ineffective & expensive as a process. 3D printers on the other hand only use materials required to print the structure, drastically reducing cost & generating zero waste. 
3D printers can work 24x7, meaning a colossal reduction in time required to construct buildings. This can also result in a reduction of costs generated by avoiding the need for low-skilled labour. 
3D printers are known for their ability to print unusual shapes & objects. The same applies to construction where buildings with unique architecture can be 3D printed, something traditional methods may find challenging.
Although the idea of 3D printing houses or buildings sounds appealing, the technology is still at a nascent stage in the industry & wide-scale adoption remains mired with several hurdles. Building firms operate on a thin profit margin. The huge amount of investment needed for 3D printing houses presents an enormous barrier to the adoption of 3D building designs. 
Cultural attachment to traditional construction methods also remains a barrier to the adoption of 3D construction. The majority of people conceive traditionally built houses & construction methods as more reliable than 3D construction, presenting a challenge for building firms from a sales point of view.

3D Construction also raises the issue of compatibility with various construction techniques. Although some houses & types of buildings have been successfully constructed using 3D printers, building designs with various architectural components may not be easily achieved. Factors like plumbing, insulation, electrical fittings, and security of the inhabitants remain as challenges that 3D Construction must overcome. 
3D printing in construction has certainly arrived on the scene. Wider adoption of the technology however, remains something that can only be achieved with advances in materials & further R&D in 3D printing itself.

Monday, 12 April 2021

3D Printing In Space


Dawn of the commercial space age has now heralded the eventual and inevitable dawn of commercial space-based ventures. With 3D printing already playing a crucial role in the production of low-cost satellites and lighter, efficient rockets, its role in future human space travel & interplanetary colonization is critical, to say the least. Space is the not the ultimate frontier for humans anymore, inter-planetary travel is. Here are some ways in which 3D printing can assist in human endeavours to conquer the frontier of inter-planetary travel in space:

Cost of putting a kilogram of payload in space currently ranges anywhere from $3000 USD to upwards of $54,000 USD based on the type of launch vehicle, launch agency and type of payload. This makes overcoming the high per kilogram cost of required to escape Earth’s gravity a barrier for most launches. 3D printing or Additive Manufacturing can highly reduce this cost. This can be achieved by printing lighter parts for launch vehicles by using weight optimized geometries and printing parts in space itself at the point of need, like in the International Space Station.

With 3D printing already revolutionizing the space industry, increased process automation for batch series or single item production will help reduce the overall cost and production time for making satellites, rockets and other space gears like probes and drones. This also extends to the manufacturing of space faring aircraft as well, in addition to in-space platforms, ground equipment, launch services and independent space R&D.

Inter-planetary travel demands the construction of human habitats on alien worlds. Carrying bulky pre-fabricated parts for such habitats in to space will not only inflate the budget for such inter-planetary missions, but also delay their completion. The availability of constriction materials like minerals, water on comets and surfaces of other planets like Mars, the Moon, makes it possible to additively build human settlements, habitats and other infrastructure required to support inter-planetary missions.

In the future, once humans successfully setup colonies across the vast distances between the Moon and Mars and probably beyond, carrying hi-tech equipment across such distances will be a great challenge. 3D printing can successfully enable future space farers to manufacture complex parts at the point of need and help distribute technology across vast distances in the galaxy. This will help human habitats and settlements in distant locations gain access to critical technologies that will aid in sustaining the human way of life on alien worlds.

Of course, 3D printing can help in many more ways when it comes to space travel and inter-planetary missions. We have selected the above advantages it brings to space missions as we believe they are crucial given the time we live in, where humans still have not setup a habitat on the Moon, our closest space destination.

Monday, 5 April 2021

Components Of STEAM Lab


STEAM Lab is a game changer for modern education. With features like the Skriware Academy, modular robots, programming tools and much more STEAM Lab is a perfect solution to modernize your classroom.

Skriware Academy is the paradigm around which STEAM Lab is designed. It has a built in e-course base for teachers & multimedia aids for children, made easy to navigate with an intuitive design. With ideas & scenarios ready to be deployed in a classroom, a search engine helps teachers & students convert traditional learning experiences into modern ones. With intuitive software and powerful hardware Skriware 2 3D printer provides users with the best of both worlds. The easy to use interface and remote monitoring with a live camera feed means you can easily track your prints remotely. Dual extruders make it easy to mix colors and materials, while a heated PEI bed allows you to remove printed models without a hitch. The Skribot construction kit gives students an opportunity to explore and learn about robotics, electronics & programming simultaneously. This provides students a chance to apply their knowledge in the real world.

STEAM Lab’s SkriKit comes equipped with 273 elements. Students can use these to learn the basics of mechanics and develop spatial thinking. SkriKit is a superb addition to physics & engineering lessons, helping students with creativity and manual skill development.

Interactive tools help teachers build interest amongst students and keep them engaged. They also help them work with Skribots and the Skrikit.

Designing is made easy with design tools included in STEAM Lab. Kids have the freedom of designing their own robots and test their designs by 3D printing them

STEAM Lab is equipped with two block programming applications, Skribots & Creator, to help students learn programming from the get go Skrimarket truly makes STEAM Lab a game changer. Loaded with a host of 3D models that can be downloaded, it also allows you control your Skriware 2 printer using a single account. Teachers and students can search for models created in other programs as well. All this is made easy by an intuitive interface that lets you navigate with ease. Contact 3Idea Technology today to know more about STEAM Lab and the Skriware Academy.

Monday, 29 March 2021

3D Printing Trends In 2021


3D printing has gained more equity as a sustainable solution to immediate and custom manufacturing needs during the COVID crisis. Innovations like Block chain, IOT, hi-speed 3d printers and metal 3D printing are some of the key drivers of growth in the 3D printing field. These along with integrated software and automation of standardized processes have paved the way for new trends to emerge in the 3D printing arena. In this blog we will try and outline a few major trends that are expected in the 3D printing industry in 2021.

Growth incentivized by application driven approach

An estimated 20% of global consumer goods are expected to use 3D printing for custom made products. This projection is based on the amazing transformative power of 3D printing that can be harnessed by applications and software tailor made to specific 3D printing needs.

Reduced Operator Intervention

Advances in 3D printing help manufacturers to focus on processes in the post and pre-production phases. As the models to be printed can be designed virtually, simulation and automation software in tandem with 3D printing will enable better designs with minimal human intervention, while speeding up the manufacturing process.

Assimilation of 3D printing in Supply Chains

3D printing has great potential to handle resource-intensive tasks. With shorter lead times and fewer equipment needs it has already revolutionized the manufacturing supply chain. In 2021 3D printing is predicted to smoothen the operation of manufacturing supply chains, by harnessing IOT and Industry 4.0 to build a digital supply chain from the ground up.

Higher customization

With the ability to create custom parts, models and design, 3D printing is expected to help consumers and goods providers alike. Virtual designs are easier to customize and can be tailor made to various requirements. The ability of 3D printers to print complex 3D designs will make it possible to realize the production of offerings that cater to unique demands of various industries.

Metal 3D printing

Advances in metal 3D printing are already revolutionizing the Aerospace and Aviation industry. It is estimated that by the end of 2021, 75% of aircrafts will use components that are 3D printed. 3D printing in metals can deliver more complex parts with ease, helping designers to innovate and solve unique problems.

Saturday, 20 March 2021

3D Printing in Scientific Research

3D printing uses computer models to print objects layer by layer. Laboratories around the world are deploying this technology to speed up traditional research methods and make them more productive.

One way 3D printing helps researchers is by reducing the cost of equipment involved in research. 3D printing plastic parts and components is cheaper and faster than waiting for them to be made and delivered by an outside vendor. Hence they can be used as consumable items, that are put to use once and discarded without the need for clean ups.

3D printing and printers are becoming a standard tool for scientific research, helping scientists to fabricate parts custom made for an experiment. They also help in replacing damaged parts of a certain apparatus in a clean, cheap manner. 3D printers also make it easy to make life size models of molecules and atoms, helping researchers to better understand the materials involved in their experiments.

3D printing also helps researchers in medicine to print life like models of a body part or organs to study and practice complex surgical procedures. 3D scans of a patient’s body parts help in creating 3D models of a certain organ. Once printed they can be studied to design novel techniques of treatment and surgery.

3D printing is revolutionizing research in the oil industry by helping researchers to map and build 3D models of rocks. Printed 3D models of rocks provide researchers access to minute details of the various physical properties of a rock. This helps them understand how various mechanical, physical and natural forces affect rocks, paving the way for new drilling and oil extraction methods.