3D printing is a very interesting form of manufacturingtechnology in my opinion. This technology allows for the creation of almost anyshape, in a wide variety of materials. Some forms of manufacturing such as moldmanufacturing or machining don’t have the power to hold up against the designparameters of 3D printing. Let me elaborate. Machining typically involves material removal. A block ofmaterial, whether it is wood, steel, or a type of metal, is drilled, sawed, andcut to remove material into a certain shape. A drill bit or saw can only cutthe material out in a certain way. Some 3D models used for manufacturing havevery intricate centers. 3D printing is great for these models, but machiningtypically isn’t. If there is a model inside of a model, machining methodstypically can’t even touch it! However, 3D printing can. Mold manufacturing also has a difficult time producing someparts that 3D printing can produce. Due to the intricate centers, and“floating” pieces capable of being produced through 3D printing, moldmanufacturing can’t keep up! 3D printing simply blows other forms of manufacturing out ofthe water when it comes down to design parameters. Sure, there are advantagesfor each style of manufacturing. Sometimes machining is more cost effective insome scenarios. Mold manufacturing is much easier for mass producing products.However, when it comes down to truly unique, highly detailed parts which havedemanding design parameters, 3D printing typically takes the cake. 3D printing is great for very custom products, just likemachining is. Having an intricate design isn’t the only advantage when it comesdown to producing parts. There are quite a few more materials offered in 3Dprinting than in machining in many instances. Just the Objet line of materialsoffers over 100! There are over 50 materials to choose from at Kraftwurx. Manyother printing services like Sculpteo or materialize offer around 10. There areplenty of options to choose from! This is great for very unique situations. For example: I recently saw an article about a little girlwho was born with a series of defects. This girls arms were too weak to move bythemselves, so a doctors and engineers worked to help. A prosthetic piece wasbuilt around her body and arms which helped her to move her upper body. Theseparts were made through 3D printing, machining a piece would have been tooheavy – she only weighed 25 pounds at the time. This is just one instance inwhich 3D printing saves the day for an individual. 3D printing offers a variety of solutions in a wide array ofindustries. The medical world is receiving quite a bit of help from thistechnology, and will continue to see more. Many prototypes are developed from3D printing first before being mass produced. Architects & designers areusing this technology to present ideas. Concept development is definitelytaking a liking to this technology as well. There are quite a few applicationsthat this technology can jump into, andwe are only seeing the start!