3D printing is a very fascinating form of manufacturingtechnology in my opinion. This technology does have a few negatives to it, forexample: it isn’t always inexpensive. Also, the “print” sizes can’t always bethat large. However, when you break it down – 3D printing can manufacturevirtually anything. Let’s cover what 3D printing actually is, and how theprocess works. Before anything can happen in the world of 3D printing, a designhas to be made. Typically a designer, engineer, artist, or whatever you’d liketo call it will have to work on the computer. The artist will use a 3D modelingsoftware of some kind to create a 3D model. This 3D model will serve as theblueprint for the actual model. After the model has been developed, what’snext? 3D printing works with a CAM system, or a computer aided manufacturingsystem. What does this mean? Well, essentially, the computer within the printeritself will tell the “ink” jets where to create. “Computer aided”, means whatit sounds like. The printer is aided by the computer itself. How does the actual process of 3D printing work? Well, let’sunderstand what 3D printing is before I break it down. 3D printing is the layerby layer creation of a final product. Quite a few forms of manufacturing workaround removing material, but this technology revolves around laying it down.There are various forms of this technology also known as additivemanufacturing, some of which involve ultraviolet light “curing” resins tosolids. Some forms involve laying down a “binder” with powdered material. Otherforms involve laying down melted material in accordance to a design.Ultimately, material is laid down layer by layer by a printer. This printer isentirely automated and working in accordance to the 3D model which we discussedearlier. Let’s talk about the design parameters and details within the world of3D printing. One thing to understand, this manufacturing technology cancreate virtually anything. Due to the layer by layer process, very intricateshapes, curves, hollow spaces, and centers can be created, whilst machining andmold manufacturing cannot. This technology is pretty powerful. However, thereare some design restrictions to it; just not nearly as many as there are inother forms of manufacturing. When designing a model, keep in mind that there has to besome thickness to it. If you designed a model that has .001 mm of width, evenif it was made in titanium – it would probably crumble in your hand. That’s onething to consider. Many materials offer a material or machine that printspieces that can “float” in the build tray, as the whole platform is filled upin each layer. Not all machines do this, so support material may need to comeinto play. Although many can, not all materials can have pieces which “float”.(i.e. a ball within a ball design) This next statement isn’t a design “rule”,but it is important for cost efficiency. When designing, it is always a goodidea to hollow out models. Using less material is much more efficient. Outsideof that, that’s pretty much all you have to worry about with designing for 3Dprinting. Thickness, support material (when necessary), and cost efficiency.