[Infographic] All you need to know about 3D printing

Back in 2012, we wrote a piece about 3D printing, and printing our cases and accessories for phones from home. Fast forward two years later, there are sites which have sprung up where people can share objects which can be printed out, medical uses for 3D printed objects, weapons which are printed out and a lot more. Though amidst all this, we haven’t seen the price of 3D printers fall down enough for regular house holds to get a hold of these printers. But we’re still at the beginning of the 3D printing revolution

Now, how much do we know about 3D printing and it’s uses, who are the folks using these printers and for what? Get to know about these by going through this infographic created by Element 14. If you would like to embed this infographic on your site, check out the embed code at the end of this post.

Infographic on 3D Printing

3D Printers – It’s there – Now! Ready to print a case for your phone?

These days inkjet and laser printers are present almost everywhere at home and office. These are great to print your documents, travel tickets and photographs. How about printing out your next Mobile’s case using a printer? Technology for this is available today, 3D Printing. Of course you can’t use that inkjet printer and paper at home to do that unless you’re an Origami expert.

3D printers were used earlier, and now, in the manufacturing industry to quickly create prototypes of products to try out before sending a product for mass-manufacturing. This helped designers conceptualise the product and show it around for feedback. It’s easier to give feedback about a product when you can touch and feel it, instead of imagining the it based on an image on screen.

The cost of a 3D printer is still not reached a level where you can go out an pick one up from the nearest store. Printers like the Relicator 2 from MakerBot sells for more than $2000, while a Kickstarter project Printerbot has a cheaper set for $549. These 3D printers make objects  based on an additive technique. In this technique,  objects are created layer by layer, each layer made using a molten material or thermosets.

MakerBot MixTape 3D Printed

Even if you can afford to buy one of these printers, you’ll need some knowledge of a 3D design software to create the 3D models required to print. The STL file format seems to be the most widely supported format for 3D printers these days. Meshlabs and Blender can be used to generate 3D models and save in this format. Once the file is loaded into the 3D printer, the actual printing process could take hours to “print” out, depending on the size and complexity of your design.

People are already printing out quite surprising items using 3D printers these days, how about a custom 3D printed Guitar, or a cycle and jewelry? How about a MP3 player which looks like a Cassette which is printed? If you don’t want to own a printer, there are online services, like Sculpteo and i materialize, opening up allowing you to upload your creations there and have them print, ship and even sell your creations for you.

With all these avenues, hobbyists and enthusiasts have already taken off on the 3D printing revolution. The technology is still quite a while away from being something every one would use at home, but lower costs and easier accessibility though online services or neighbourhood printing stores, it’s something you can take a stab at to make that unique creation you can boast about.

Tempted to try out 3D printing yet? Ok, 3D printing not as easy as printing that document on your home or office printer. It takes some work to get your very own personalized work of art printed using a 3D printer. To give you an idea of what it takes, take a peek at this video from Sharon Vaknik at CNet showing how she prints a customized iPhone case using a 3D printer.

 Picture Credit - iStockPhoto