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Published on June 24th, 2014 | by Sally Wenham

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The Emergence Of 3D Printing

3D printing has to be one of the most exciting technological advancements of recent times. It is emerging as a highly relevant tool which is being used to good effect in a number of diverse industry sectors including construction, education, medical products, retail, telecommunications, transportation and utilities.

Invented by US based engineer Chuck Hall in the 1980’s, 3D printing technology creates solid objects from digital models by laying down successive layers of material to mirror onscreen forms. Wrapped like a hose pipe around a drum, string like plastic feeds into the extrusion head before it is then melted and squashed out of a narrow muzzle.

Until recently 3D printing capabilities were relatively small-scale, but recent developments have seen domestic desk-top 3D printers starting to emerge enabling consumers to create a whole range of items including bracelets, mugs and phone cases.

Whilst printers and fax machines have been the mainstay of offices to meet all our requirements, it seems that it’s only a matter of time before this ‘rapid prototyping’ technology will be common place as a means of producing 3D objects.

Education is one such sector where 3D printers are set to become common place after the Education Secretary Michael Gove confirmed that thousands of teachers are set to be trained how to use the technology with a view to these printers being used to teach various disciplines including science, technology, engineering, maths as well as design and technology.

Another sector already benefiting from this exciting technology is the construction industry where architectural models of buildings using 3D printers are becoming common place in the design process. What’s more on an even larger scale, the world’s first 3D-printed house is currently in construction in Amsterdam so watch this space!

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