What is 3D printing?

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Material extrusion processes use the fused deposition modelling technology. This technology essentially uses a plastic filament or metal, which is heated to be melted. The material is then layered horizontally or vertically in the desired forms or shapes to create the object. The process is controlled by a computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software package.

Contradictorily to material extrusion, the powder bed fusion processing mostly uses the selective laser sintering technology. Here, a high intensity laser fuses small particles of any given material, from plastic, metal, ceramic to glass, into the desired end-shape.

As for sheet lamination, metal, paper or polymer can be used. This method lays down different sheets of the material which are then bound together. For example, metal sheets are welded together by ultrasonic welding.

Lastly, the seven method, directed energy deposition is used mostly in the high-tech metal industry and rapid manufacturing applications.

According to Statista, the 3D printing market is poised for exponential growth, with market value topping $10.8bn by 2021, up from $4bn in 2015. Other think tanks predict the 3D printing market to be worth more than $21bn by then.

Applications of such technology will be seen in every industry, from healthcare, automotive, and education to retail and food.

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