3D Printing technology, also known as "Additive Manufacturing" technology. According to the American Society for testing and materials (ASTM) founded in 2009 to add the definition of manufacturing technology F42 Committee announced, "added manufacturing technology" is "a traditional processing method of material removal on the contrary, the three-dimensional digital model based on the commonly used layer manufacturing process of material combination, including adding synonyms add add, molding, process technology, adding layered manufacturing, layered manufacturing, and forming".

what is a 3d printing

However, to fit with the popular concept of "3D", and for the people has been a more popular name is "3D print", which covers the front end of the product life cycle of Rapid Prototypin, the rapid manufacturing production cycle. And all the other add categories and the application of technology, system.

The two concepts, "3D printing" and "adding manufacture", mean the same concept. Since the first 3D printer was made by Charles Hull in 1984, 3D printing technology has been developed for nearly 30 years, and is becoming one of the most advanced manufacturing technology with vitality:
First, integration of design and manufacturing. The 3D model is driven directly, and the integration of design and manufacture is realized to a certain extent. This is one of the most remarkable features of 3D printing technology.

Second, highly flexible. The addition of manufacturing technology without any constraints on the shape and structure of the parts makes possible the direct manufacture of complex models.

Third, shorten the development cycle of new products and reduce R & D costs. Three-dimensional printing technology can automatically and directly, quickly and accurately design ideas into real product model, which can make fast evaluation of is in the design phase of product modification and functional test, so as to shorten the product development cycle, and reduce the economic loss.

3D Printing Principle

The so-called 3D printing, a kind of rapid prototyping technology, it is a digital model of a file, the use of powdered metal or plastic can be laminated, to construct the object layer by layer by way of printing technology. 3D printing is usually done using digital technology, material printers. This molding process eliminates the need for conventional tools, clamps, and machine tools to create arbitrary shapes. It enables the design of computers to be transformed into models automatically, quickly, directly, and precisely.

3D printers use hierarchical processing and overlay molding to "sculpt". The design is divided into several thin layers, each producing a thin layer with raw material, and then obtaining the 3D entity by layer by layer. This is very similar to the way an inkjet printer works. 3D printing is printed layer by layer, and inkjet printers are a straight line, straight line spray, through the superposition of a number of lines to form images. Through the identification of the 3D software in the computer, the STL (triangular mesh format) conversion is carried out, and then the orientation and the cutting path are determined with the cutting layer software, and the work of cutting layer and the construction of relevant supporting materials are carried out.

Finally, the nozzle is used to heat the solid linear forming material into a semi molten state, then squeezed out, and the supporting material is made from bottom to top, and then a layer is used to form the final entity. Simply put, it can be understood that software divides objects into several cross sections, while 3D printers deposit these cross-sections one by one, and end up forming the entities we need.


Cumulative Technology

Basic material


Fused Deposition Modeling(FDM)

Thermoplastic plastic, eutectic system metal, edible materials


Electron beam freeform fabrication(BEF)

Almost any alloy


Direct Metal Laser Sintering(DMLS)

Almost any alloy

Electron Beam Mehing(EBM)

Titanium alloy

Selective Laser Melting(SLM)

Titanium alloy, cobalt chromium alloy, stainless steel, aluminum

Selective heat sintering(SHS)

Thermoplastic powder

Selective Laser Sintering(SLS)

Thermoplastic plastic, metal powder, ceramic powder

Powder Layer Spray 3D Printing

Gypsum 3D printing (PP)



Laminated Object Manufacturing(LOM)

Paper, metal film, plastic film


Stereo Lithography Apparatus(SLA)

Photohardened resin

Digital Light Processing(DLP)

Photohardened resin

The Printing Process

Three dimensional printing design process is: first through the computer modeling software modeling, and then built three-dimensional model "partition" into a layer of section, that is slice, so as to guide the printer printing layer by layer. You Also may want to know how 3d Printer work.

The standard file format for collaboration between design software and printers is the STL file format. A STL file uses a triangular surface to approximate the surface of an object. The smaller the triangle is, the higher the surface resolution is. PLY is a scanner that produces 3D files by scanning, and its generated VRML or WRL files are often used as input files for full color printing.

Slice Processing

The cross section information of the printer by reading the file in use, liquid, powder or flake materials will be printed out by the section layer, and each layer section in a variety of ways together to create an entity. The technique is characterized by the fact that it can produce almost any shape.

The thickness of the section (i.e., the Z direction) and the plane direction of the printer, i.e., the resolution of the X-Y direction, is calculated in terms of DPI (pixels per inch) or microns. The average thickness is 100 microns, or 0.1 millimeters, and some printers, such as the ObjetConnex series, and the 3D Systems'ProJet series, print out a layer of 16 microns thin. While the plane direction, you can print a resolution similar to the laser printer. Printed ink droplets are typically 50 to 100 microns in diameter.

Making a model in traditional ways usually takes hours to days, depending on the size and complexity of the model. With 3D printing, time can be reduced to hours, of course, depending on the printer's performance and the size and complexity of the model.

The traditional manufacturing techniques such as injection molding method for manufacturing polymer products with low cost, and 3D printing technology can be faster, more flexible and lower cost production of a relatively small number of products. A desktop size 3D printer can meet the needs of the designer or concept development group manufacturing model.

Print complete

The 3D printer resolution is sufficient for most applications (on the bending surface may be relatively rough, like the image on the sawtooth like) to obtain a higher resolution, things can be through the following methods: first, using a 3D printer currently play a bigger body, a little after surface grinding can obtain smooth surface the "high resolution" items.

Some techniques can be printed simultaneously using a variety of materials. Some techniques also use support in printing, for example, when printing some upside down objects, something that is easy to remove (such as soluble) is used as a support.

3D Printing History Development

3d printing history

3D printing technology appeared in the mid 1990s, and is actually the latest rapid prototyping device using light curing and paper laminating technology. It works with the ordinary printing principle is basically the same, the printer is arranged in the liquid or powder printed materials, connected with the computer, through the computer control of the print materials layer stacking up, finally put the computer into a physical blueprint. This printing technique is called 3D stereoscopic printing technology.

In 1986, American scientist Charles Hull developed the first commercial 3D printing press.
In 1993, Massachusetts Institute of Technology obtained 3D printing technology patent.
In 1995, ZCorp obtained its sole authorization from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and began developing 3D printers.
2005, the market's first high-definition color 3D printer Spectrum Z510 developed by ZCorp company.
In November 2010, the United States Jim Kor team to create the world's first car printed by 3D printer Urbee came out.
In June 6, 2011, the world's first 3D Print Bikini was released.
In July 2011, British researchers developed the world's first 3D chocolate printer.
In August 2011, engineers at the University of Southampton developed the world's first 3D printed airplane.
In November 2012, scientists in Scotland used human cells to print artificial liver tissue for the first time with a 3D printer.
In October 2013, the world's first successful auction of a "ONO God" 3D print art.
In November 2013, 3D printing company Austen of Texas,, designed and manufactured a 3D printing metal pistol.

The Significance and Influence of 3D printing

The new manufacturing technology, represented by 3D printing technology, is one of the important technologies to lead the future manufacturing revolution. It is possible to radically change the manufacturing organization.

3D printing technology is based on the computer aided design technology to complete a series of digital slides, and transmit information these sections to the 3D printer, which uses hierarchical processing, superposition forming, continuous thin layer will stack up, until a solid object forming. The working principle is basically the same as that of an ordinary printer. After the computer is connected, the printed material is superimposed on each other by computer control, and finally the blueprint of the computer is transformed into a physical object.

The difference between the cost of a single product in a new manufacturing technology and the cost per unit of mass production will overturn the traditional theory of scale economy. The weakening of the advantages of large-scale product production has made small and medium-sized enterprises and even individual entrepreneurs become more competitive, and intensified the intensive production model to the direction of distributed production.

In addition, the new manufacturing technology can greatly release people's creativity and imagination, and make innovative economic business model possible. A laptop computer and a 3D printer can complete the manufacturing of products, at the same time will lead to labor costs in the proportion of the total cost will be more and more small, low labor cost advantage in emerging countries will decline sharply. Emerging countries, which rely on cheap labour for a large number of jobs, may have to give those positions to the developed world and change the world's industrial landscape.

The Current Situation and Future Prospects of 3D Printing technology

The world's first 3d printed sneakers

In the past year or so, 3D printing industry has entered a highly active period, and 3D printing related news and concepts frequently appear in the public view, more and more Chinese people began to understand 3D printing. In fact, 3D printing technology and 3D printers have been widely used in some developed countries in Europe and america.

Recently the world's first round about 3D printing technology and its application in the book -- "3D printing: from vision to reality", according to the research results of many years of 3D printing technology and industry development, the author of the book from different levels and angles for readers to describe the 3D printing technology principle, the history and current situation, widely used, the future prospects and difficulties and challenges. According to this book, we can understand the current situation and future prospects of 3D printing from the following aspects:

1. 3D printing has spread to every corner of everyday life.

More and more facts indicate that the 3D printer is no longer the exclusive machine designers and scientists, it has gradually come out from the laboratory and factory, walked into the school and the family, and each of us ordinary people's lives.

3D printing of clothing and shoes have repeatedly appeared in the world's major fashion exhibition, 3D printing, biscuits and cakes have become some of the most popular family dinner snacks, coffee table and 3D printing personalized furniture is popular with young people, and in the design of traffic engineering such as bicycles and cars with more and more reflect the 3D printing elements. From childhood friends' toothbrushes and custom-made toys to their parents' stereoscopic wedding pictures, to grandparents' hearing aid and dentures, 3D printing has surprised everyone in the family and benefited from it.

As the article shows, 3D printing technology is to follow the development of route three step, gradually from the internal print shape transition to print objects which can print objects to the final development of high function and behavior, so we believe that in the near future, everyone can print at home can call the mobile phone, Mini Robot climb to climb, and other fun new electronic products.

2. 3D printing will affect all walks of life.

A new method of manufacturing 3D print this will make your work style has undergone tremendous change, may become more efficient, perhaps more difficult, in view of the trend cited many representative cases in the book.

If you're a high school teacher, you'll be impressed with your students when you come to the classroom with hours of 3D printed dinosaur fossils or a Himalaya Range model;

If you're a senior doctor, the entire medical community must be excited when you walk into the operation room with a perfectly fit bone or heart valve made with a 3D printer;

If you are a archaeologists, with rapid replication of precious cultural relics in the vulnerable, do not touch the 3D scanning and 3D printing technology, so burdensome detailed archaeological research work will be better;

If you are an art designer, you design the use of 3D printing technology, the nature of those wonderful shape curve and the complex are no longer out of reach, people's aesthetic standards will significantly enhance.

However, if you are a master of carving, so 3D printed works will make you feeling better; if you have a model of factory production, 3D printing technology is likely to make your business has shrunk dramatically.

And so on, 3D printing will affect all walks of life work model, or enhance the vitality of many industries, or cause some industries to die out.

3.3D printing will give birth to many new opportunities, but also bring many new challenges.

As mentioned earlier, some of the traditional industries will be affected by 3D printing technology and gradually shrinking, but we must realize that 3D printing will also spawned a large number of unprecedented industry and great opportunities. The most obvious opportunity is that, with the growth of demand for cheap home 3D printers, the related industry chain (including parts manufacturing, printing materials and other industries) will enter the high-speed development period.

The more important opportunities in the Internet field, around the 3D electronic commerce pattern printing will appear more and more, such as online 3D printing services, personal customization design and manufacturing services, shared 3D printing model for cloud manufacturing district and 3D printing network.

Similar to the Internet, the popularity of mobile information platforms and smart phones also provide an ideal application extension platform for some simple and easy-to-use but very interesting 3D print value-added services. There is also an entity business model based on 3D printing, which will grow rapidly, such as 3D printing shops and 3D printing galleries all over the streets and tourist attractions.

However, we must recognize and create countless new opportunities in 3D printing at the same time, it also brings many challenges hitherto unknown 3D printing industry: the cultivation of talents, the mismatch problem of existing design software and 3D printing, 3D printing articles copyright and intellectual property disputes problems, quality and safety problems and 3D printing equipment and 3D printing products, there is a 3D print products for public safety and environmental threats, etc..

These issues urgently need 3D printing industry, industry researchers, legal workers and public affairs managers through joint efforts to solve.

4. 3D printing will change the existing industrial structure

There is no doubt that 3D printing will create a new business model, change the existing industrial structure, the world economy will have a tremendous impact. Recently, the major developed countries have begun to layout, have introduced relevant policies and investment development plans, and vigorously develop the 3D printing industry, designed to occupy the forefront of the new industrial revolution. U.S. President Obama in February 2013 "state of the union" repeatedly mentioned 3D printing, and plans to establish 3D printing national innovation center, designed to enhance the competitiveness of the U.S. manufacturing industry. From the latest space exploration projects in Europe and America, you can also see huge funding for 3D printing technology related projects.

To sum up, 3D printing era has arrived, our life, work and thinking will change, and the world economic industrial pattern will be affected by it. Therefore, China must plan as early as possible to better cope with, so as not to passive backward.