What Improvements Have Been Made to the 3D Printer and Printing Technology?

3d printer improvements
3D printer improvements go from concept to reality
The biggest improvements in 3D printing have been characterized by the constant drive to (a) lower the cost of 3D printers and make them more affordable to the mass market, and (b) increase the output quality and accuracy of products being printed.

The combined contribution of RepRap, the open source community, and 3D hardware makers like MakerBot have fueled the explosive growth of 3D printing technology --one that emerged not too long ago as a niche item, and has since started to achieve mainstream adoption and success in manufacturing circles (including home-based businesses).

While toys, jewelry, cell phone covers and mechanical parts make up a good chunk of 3D print productions, other areas like using a 3D printer to print food are pushing the boundaries of what's possible using a humble printer. Truth be told, custom designed printed chocolate is one very real idea that's starting to shape up the food industry.

And there are other improvements too.

Starting in 2012, scientists have dabbled with the use of metal (like silver) as a source of 3D printed objects.One fascinating new invention coming from British Engineers involved melting metal powder to create 3D models comprised entirely of Aluminum.Can you say aircraft parts?

That was possible thanks to Selective Laser Melting (SLM), the industrial equivalent of Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) that consumer printers are based on. Remember that both industrial printers and Amazon purchased home printers use lasers to print 3D objects. The difference is in geometrical accuracy, size of final products, and overall material and visual complexity.

Incremental improvements in both 3D printers and the software that makes this kind of printing possible, have benefited such radically different applications as hearing aid shells and rocket base design.

If anything, there's an entire new 3D printing business community that has set up shop to make these improvements and advancements accessible to regular people anywhere in the world (not just scientists or engineers tinkering in the lab).

This new breed of entrepreneurs is leading the way for the rest of us by creating profitable ventures where none existed just a year ago.

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