By Gregory van Zuyen
(SMC Community Ed will host a special one-time workshop, “The World of 3D Printing,” devoted to exploring the financial and creative potential of 3D printing for home and business. The workshop, taught by Photoshop instructor Gregory van Zuyen, will be held from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15 in Room 127 at the SMC Bundy Campus, 3171 S. Bundy Dr., Los Angeles. Join us for this exciting day of discovery as we explore the methods, machines, and materials that visionaries are claiming will become our third industrial revolution. He will also teach “Introduction to 3D Printing” Oct. 27 – Dec. 8. For more information, call (310) 434-3400 or email email@example.com.)
Gary Diulio of 3D Rapid Prototyping displays his business card, a two-inch clear plastic machine, complete with moving gears.
Imagine a day when you can repair your car by going on the Internet to download the computer file you need for the new part and printing it out on your home 3D printer. That day is here.
The world as we know it is quickly changing, thanks to the innovations of 3D printing. Everything from food to medical surgery to architecture is being affected by the developments made with printers that can produce objects through the precise application of materials in x, y, and z coordinates. What may be most surprising to people is how much these machines will change business and manufacturing as we know it.
For starters, it is already altering the way companies develop new products. The introduction of 3D printing to the field of engineering is already creating light-year leaps in how products are designed, according to Rich Bernard, director of marketing for Fusion Formatics, a company specializing in the newly developed field of rapid prototyping. In addition to rapid prototyping, Fusion Formatics is also the official representative for MarkForged 3D printers.
A 3D model of a real person.
Bernard, a Lockheed Martin engineer specializing in material composition, explains how the 3D printing process accelerates the development time of new products, in everything from bicycle parts to running shoes to aeronautical components.
“In the past,” said Bernard, “engineering firms would have to portion a good deal of their development money into hiring specialized engineers whose function was to analyze the loads and stresses based on the blueprints of the proposed new product. Now, with these devices, the products can be made, the stress points can be immediately tested and changes to the product design can be made instantly.
“This is because companies no longer have to send their designs out for theoretical testing or have to budget for expensive manufacturing of prototypes that may not be fully ready to go into production,” Bernard said. “What used to cost thousands of dollars in product development is now in the hundreds. And getting cheaper. And on top of that, the time frame for development is now in terms of days and hours, not weeks and months.”
The reason for these ongoing leaps in advancement is due in part to the continual perfecting of the 3D printers but also to the innovations in the materials these devices are using. Everything from pancake batter to concrete is being poured in unique shapes through the use of precise engineering, creating an array of products. Objects can be now made seamlessly enclosed with moving parts inside. They can be printed in clear plastic, or in a host of colors.
Credit for pioneering the 3D printer industry belongs to Chuck Hull, who patented the process in 1986. Hull formed the company 3D Systems, represented in southern California by Gary Diulio of 3D Rapid Prototyping in Garden Grove.
“The capabilities of the machines are incredible,” Diulio said. “There are artists who have purchased the machines to turn out these fantastic creations. Shapes and things that weren’t possible before.
Examples of 3D printing
Diulio displayed his business card, a two-inch clear plastic machine itself, complete with moving gears. He turned its crank as it spun and pumped pistons on a cam.
“Because these objects can be laid layer-by-layer, the printers can allow for gaps in the layers that make these moving parts possible in a single printing,” he noted. “That’s how intricate these printers are. It’s only a matter now of what can be done with them.”
Among the leading industries in using 3D printing is medicine. Because of these devices, doctors have made bold moves to apply them in a host of ways.
Boston Children’s Hospital used one to make an exact-size 3D printout of a child’s brain to help guide the doctors through the difficult surgery. In Italy, scientists for the company Ira3D are working with new compounds that will allow 3D printed parts to replace bones.
Gregory van Zuyen teaches a variety of design classes, including Photo Shop, Adobe Illustrator, and Design & Publish Your Own Websites. He is an award winning graphic designer and worked as the Creative Director for Language Magazine.