What Commercial Printers Need to Know About 3D Printing

May 04, 2018
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Originally Posted by Rebecca Flores in The Printing News

3D Print Technology was once a far fetched idea. Before the 1980’s, the technology was akin to the flying cars or the cleaning robots the Jetsons promised us. These days, this technology is transforming entire industries and leaving an imprint on our society that can never be unturned.

Don’t take our word for it. Just ask the parents of Lucy Boucher, an infant with medical complications that damaged both of her kidneys. Her father decided to donate his own kidney to her, but the difference in their body size presented a big problem. With the use of 3D technology, doctors created a printed model of Lucy’s infant body to see it could indeed fit a full-grown adult kidney. The surgery was a success. Today, Lucy is a thriving healthy child.

In 2014, Dr. Liu Zhongjun, Director of the Orthopedics Department at Peking University, printed the first vertebra implant for the orthopedic spine surgery of a 12-year-old boy with a rare bone cancer. Once again proving 3D technology is changing the way we think about age-old industries by introducing new possibilities.

But it’s not just the medical world. Students at MIT Media Lab recreated functional musical instruments. There’s also an endless amount of templates online for printing useful household objects, accessories for your car, and almost anything else you can think of. You can even find a guide on how to print a fully-functional SLR camera in 15 hours and for only $30 in parts. But today, many commercial printing business owners are still intimidated by the technology and what it can actually do for them. Even more business owners gawk at the investment in capital a 3D printer requires.

A Closer Look

To put it in layman’s terms, 3D printing allows layers of plastic filament to take shape as a print nozzle on an extended arm follows the pattern it’s been programmed to produce. After each layer, the nozzle lifts and repeats the process. The result is the product of these layers.

Scott Schiller, Global Head of Market Development, 3D Printing, at HP Inc. further explained the significance of this technology in today’s world.

“There have been massive advances in technology, economics, and applications that together are rapidly accelerating the path to industrial 3D manufacturing. We’re on the cusp of a 4th Industrial Revolution that will be among the greatest social and economic shifts in modern history. The World Economic Forum recently estimated 3D manufacturing will become a $100 trillion industry over the next 10 years. It’s truly mind-boggling.”
According to Schiller, 3D printing technology isn’t new, but the scope of its potential applications has grown tremendously in just a few years.

Why It Matters

Where to Begin

3D Printer Architecture

3D Printer Architecture

Kevin Sykes, President of Massivit North America, also echoed the benefits of investing in 3D manufacturing.

“With the advent of technology, Massivit introduced the Massivit 1800 Flagship 3D printer. We really took the speed of 3D printing to the next level by becoming 10x faster than the former rate,” he said.
In March of 2018, Massivit also introduced the 1500 Exploration 3D Printer, designed to provide a first step into the possibilities of large format 3D printing at an affordable price.

“Other printers use heated material that has to cool before the next layer. We can immediately print the next layer on top of the prior layer without having to wait for it to cool down using UV curing and our proprietary diamond gel technology,” Sykes explained.

As far as how commercial printers can adopt this technology?

“The number one use is adding 3D elements in general. Taking a 2D form like a logo, mascot, brand’s perfume bottle, the M&M characters, or anything like that which would have been a banner or point of purchase material, you can now print the element itself in a 3D form,” he continued.

Another area that customers are finding Massivit 3D printers for is using the printer to create molds, eliminating the the traditional method of stamping out a shape. Thermal forming can be done more cost effectively and neither of these were original applications.

“When you’re creating signage in letters, you’re often limited by how much you can bend the glass on font with certain curvature but with Massivit, you have virtually no limitations at whatever font, whatever thickness, and you can illuminate it from the inside,” added Sykes.