3D printing is very cool in my opinion. It has led to themanufacturing of a wide variety of products. These products have been very intricatein many situations, as the “design rules” of 3D printing are much easier tofollow than in other forms of manufacturing such as machining or molding. Therules simply aren’t the same; this means that some seriously intricate designsand products can be brought to life. These designs can involve full functioningparts right out of the machine, interesting feats such as a ball within a ball,and organic shapes with curves and hollow sections. Some of the same designsused in 3D printing couldn’t even be pitched at other machine shops andmanufacturing plants. These places would simply have to reject those orders; it’simpossible as the design rules aren’t the same. Through machining, most methods involve a drill bit comingdown on a block of material, or literally a saw of some kind cutting material.CNC cutting is the strongest attribute about machining in my opinion, so let’scompare 3D printing to that. CNC cutting uses a drill bit to come down upon ablock of material. Typically, this block of material can turn, angle, androtate to hit the drill bit at a certain spot. Unfortunately for this type ofmanufacturing technology, it is very difficult to replicate organic curves orshapes. This process is definitely not a layer by layer process, but a materialremoval one. The possibility of hollow spaces isn’t there; it’s simplyimpossible. For this reason, creating intricate models that offer organiccurves, shapes, and hollow spaces are simply out of the question. 3D printing doesn’t have much competition from moldmanufacturing as well. Well, that isn’t entirely true. Mold manufacturing ismuch less expensive to create mass quantities of products, but these productsfollow a different set of “design rules” and simply can’t create some of thesame products that 3D printing can. Based on the fact that plastic will be shotinside of a mold, there isn’t an easy way to create hollow areas. Thepossibilities for organic shapes and curves is very doable, but the detail isn’tquite the same in many situations. Overall, 3D printing dominates the effortsof mold manufacturing on a small scale when it comes down to product vsproduct. When speaking in a large scale mass manufacturing situation, moldmanufacturing will typically win the bout. Various form of manufacturing serve their own purposes, butI believe product vs product, 3D printing poses one of the best options forcreating organic, curved, hollowed, and detailed pieces. The possibilitieswithin this technology are more than vast. If it can be drawn up on a computer,it can likely be 3D printed. That’s not to say that it won’t fall apart if youdesign a product with .01 mm of spacing, but with little knowledge of the “designrules” of 3D printing, odds are that you will do alright when it comes down toproducing 3D printed parts.