3D Printing – A Printing Revolution

The printing industry has seen many changes over the years from the humble beginnings of wooden block printing to modern digital and litho printing technology. Technology has revolutionised the way we print. With the recent addition of 3D printers available for the first time on the British high-street let’s find out a bit more about this new type of printing.

3D printing is a process which allows you to make three-dimensional solid objects from digital designs. The technology used to print 3D objects scans a design or downloads a design and creates a digital impression that the printer then uses to build up a 3D object. It can be used to build any number of intricate designs and creations including scale models, hearing aids and even prosthetic limbs.

Screen Shot 2013-08-19 at 16.59.25
3D printing technology works by first using CAD (computer aided design) software, which allows you to design different objects and create virtual blueprints of the object you want to print. The program then divides the object into different cross sections so the printer is able to build up the object layer by layer. The cross sections then essentially work as a guide for the printer so the design is made to the exact size and shape you want. Printing can be done using a number of materials including rubber, plastic, paper and metals.

An example of how 3D printing has been used to create prosthetic limbs is the cute story of Buttercup, a baby ducking who hatched with a backwards foot. A 3D printed mould was used to create a prosthetic foot made out of silicon for the duckling to allow it to walk and swim normally along with the other ducks. Buttercups other foot was scanned and used to make a blueprint that was then copied to create a matching prosthetic limb.

Hearing aids are another example of how 3D printing technology is making a difference in the medical sector. According to Phil Reeves, who produced a recent report on the 3D printing industry, an estimated 10,000,000 3D printed hearing aids are currently in circulation worldwide. 3D printing makes it easy to adjust and scale hearing aids and means ear impressions can be reused if patients wish to get a new hearing aid in the future.

3D printing is becoming much more affordable, with the technology becoming accessible to everyday consumers and not just businesses. You could soon be creating your own jewellery or printed phone cases from the comfort of your own home!

2D printing hasn’t been left behind in the printing revolution with digital and litho printing technology making it more affordable than ever to manufacture quality printed products. Business cards are one of the most popular forms of printed marketing material and with lots of different effects to choose from, you can create a completely unique and individual business card. Business card printing is an affordable and effective marketing tool and are often the first impression potential clients will have of your business.

Screen Shot 2013-08-19 at 17.00.39