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3D printing

For methods of applying a 2D image onto a 3D surface, in reference to a process that deposits a binder mate-
see pad printing. For methods of copying 2D parallax rial onto a powder bed with inkjet printer heads layer
stereograms that seem 3D to the eye, see lenticular print- by layer. More recently, the term is being used in pop-
ing and holography. ular vernacular to encompass a wider variety of addi-
3D printing, a popular term for what is now known tive manufacturing techniques. United States and global
Technical standards use the official term additive man-
ufacturing for this broader sense. ISO/ASTM52900-
15 defines seven categories of AM processes within its
meaning: Binder Jetting, Directed Energy Deposition,
Material Extrusion, Material Jetting, Powder Bed Fusion,
Sheet Lamination and Vat Photopolymerization. (http:

1 History

1.1 Terminology and methods

Early Additive Manufacturing (or AM) equipment and

materials were developed in the 1980s.[5] In 1981, Hideo
Kodama of Nagoya Municipal Industrial Research Insti-
tute invented two AM fabricating methods of a three-
dimensional plastic model with photo-hardening poly-
mer, where the UV exposure area is controlled by a mask
pattern or the scanning fiber transmitter.[6][7] But on July
16, 1984 Alain Le Méhauté, Olivier de Witte and Jean
Claude André filed their patent for the stereolithogra-
phy process.[8] It was three weeks before Chuck Hull
filed his own patent for stereolithography. The applica-
tion of French inventors were abandoned by the French
General Electric Company (now Alcatel-Alsthom) and
CILAS (The Laser Consortium).[9] The claimed rea-
A MakerBot 3D printer son was “for lack of business perspective”.[10] Then in
1984, Chuck Hull of 3D Systems Corporation[11] devel-
as additive manufacturing (AM), refers to various pro- oped a prototype system based on a process known as
cesses used to synthesize a three-dimensional object.[1] stereolithography, in which layers are added by curing
In additive manufacturing processing, successive layers photopolymers with ultraviolet light lasers. Hull defined
of material are formed under computer control to create the process as a “system for generating three-dimensional
the object.[2] These objects can be of almost any shape or objects by creating a cross-sectional pattern of the ob-
geometry and are produced from digital model data 3D ject to be formed,”[12][13] but this had been already in-
model or other electronic data source such as an Additive vented by Kodama. Hull’s contribution is the design of
Manufacturing File (AMF) file. the STL (STereoLithography) file format widely accepted
by 3D printing software as well as the digital slicing and
Futurologist Jeremy Rifkin[3] claimed that 3D printing infill strategies common to many processes today. The
or AM signals the beginning of a third industrial rev- term 3D printing originally referred to a process employ-
olution,[4] succeeding the production line assembly that ing standard and custom inkjet print heads. The technol-
dominated manufacturing starting in the late 19th cen- ogy used by most 3D printers to date—especially hob-
tury. byist and consumer-oriented models—is fused deposition
The term 3D printing has its origin sense, 3D printing modeling, a special application of plastic extrusion.


AM processes for metal sintering or melting (such as fore or instead of machining) in job production rather
selective laser sintering, direct metal laser sintering, and than obligately being machined from bar stock or plate.
selective laser melting) usually went by their own indi- As technology matured, several authors had begun to
vidual names in the 1980s and 1990s. At the time, nearly speculate that 3D printing could aid in sustainable devel-
all metal working was produced by casting, fabrication, opment in the developing world.[20][21][22]
stamping, and machining; although plenty of automation
was applied to those technologies (such as by robot weld-
ing and CNC), the idea of a tool or head moving through
a 3D work envelope transforming a mass of raw mate- 2 General principles
rial into a desired shape layer by layer was associated
by most people only with processes that removed metal 2.1 Modeling
(rather than adding it), such as CNC milling, CNC EDM,
and many others. But AM-type sintering was begin- Main article: 3D modeling
ning to challenge that assumption. By the mid 1990s,
new techniques for material deposition were developed
at Stanford and Carnegie Mellon University, including 3D printable models may be created with a computer
microcasting[14] and sprayed materials.[15] Sacrificial and aided design (CAD) package, via a 3D scanner or by a
support materials had also become more common, en- plain digital camera and photogrammetry software. 3D
abling new object geometries.[16] printed models created with CAD results in reduced er-
rors and can be corrected before printing, allowing veri-
The umbrella term additive manufacturing gained wider fication in the design of the object before it is printed.[23]
currency in the decade of the 2000s.[17] As the various ad-
ditive processes matured, it became clear that soon metal
removal would no longer be the only metalworking pro-
cess done under that type of control (a tool or head mov-
ing through a 3D work envelope transforming a mass
of raw material into a desired shape layer by layer). It
was during this decade that the term subtractive manu-
facturing appeared as a retronym for the large family of
machining processes with metal removal as their com-
mon theme. At this time, the term 3D printing still re-
ferred only to the polymer technologies in most minds,
and the term AM was likelier to be used in metalwork-
ing and end use part production contexts than among
polymer/inkjet/stereolithography enthusiasts. The term
subtractive has not replaced the term machining, instead CAD model used for 3D printing
complementing it when a term that covers any removal
method is needed. The manual modeling process of preparing geometric
data for 3D computer graphics is similar to plastic arts
By the early 2010s, the terms 3D printing and additive
such as sculpting. 3D scanning is a process of collecting
manufacturing evolved senses in which they were alter-
digital data on the shape and appearance of a real object,
nate umbrella terms for AM technologies, one being used
creating a digital model based on it.
in popular vernacular by consumer - maker communities
and the media, and the other used officially by industrial
AM end use part producers, AM machine manufacturers, 2.2 Printing
and global technical standards organizations.
Both terms reflect the simple fact that the technologies Before printing a 3D model from an STL file, it must
all share the common theme of sequential-layer material first be examined for errors. Most CAD applications pro-
addition/joining throughout a 3D work envelope under duce errors in output STL files:[24] holes, faces normals,
automated control. self-intersections, noise shells or manifold errors.[25] A
step in the STL generation known as “repair” fixes such
(Other terms that had been used as AM synonyms
problems in the original model.[26][27] Generally STLs
(although sometimes as hypernyms), included desk-
that have been produced from a model obtained through
top manufacturing, rapid manufacturing [as the logical
3D scanning often have more of these errors.[28] This is
production-level successor to rapid prototyping], and on-
due to how 3D scanning works-as it is often by point
demand manufacturing [which echoes on-demand print-
to point acquisition, reconstruction will include errors in
ing in the 2D sense of printing].) The 2010s were the
most cases.[29]
first decade in which metal end use parts such as engine
brackets[18] and large nuts[19] would be grown (either be- Once completed, the STL file needs to be processed by
a piece of software called a “slicer,” which converts the

parts. These techniques are able to print in multiple col-

ors and color combinations simultaneously, and would not
necessarily require painting.
Some printing techniques require internal supports to
be built for overhanging features during construction.
These supports must be mechanically removed or dis-
solved upon completion of the print.
All of the commercialized metal 3D printers involve cut-
ting the metal component off the metal substrate after
deposition. A new process for the GMAW 3D print-
Timelapse video of a hyperboloid object (designed by George W. ing allows for substrate surface modifications to remove
Hart) made of PLA using a RepRap “Prusa Mendel” 3 printer for aluminum[35] or steel.[36]
molten polymer deposition

model into a series of thin layers and produces a G-code 3 Processes

file containing instructions tailored to a specific type of
3D printer (FDM printers). This G-code file can then be Several 3D printing processes have been invented since
printed with 3D printing client software (which loads the the late 1970s.[37] The printers were originally large, ex-
G-code, and uses it to instruct the 3D printer during the pensive, and highly limited in what they could produce.[5]
3D printing process).[30]
A large number of additive processes are now available.
Printer resolution describes layer thickness and X-Y res- The main differences between processes are in the way
olution in dots per inch (dpi) or micrometers (µm). Typi- layers are deposited to create parts and in the materials
cal layer thickness is around 100 µm (250 DPI), although that are used. Some methods melt or soften the mate-
some machines can print layers as thin as 16 µm (1,600 rial to produce the layers, for example. selective laser
DPI).[31] X-Y resolution is comparable to that of laser melting (SLM) or direct metal laser sintering (DMLS),
printers. The particles (3D dots) are around 50 to 100 selective laser sintering (SLS), fused deposition mod-
µm (510 to 250 DPI) in diameter. eling (FDM),[38] or fused filament fabrication (FFF),
Construction of a model with contemporary methods can while others cure liquid materials using different sophis-
take anywhere from several hours to several days, de- ticated technologies, such as stereolithography (SLA).
pending on the method used and the size and complexity With laminated object manufacturing (LOM), thin layers
of the model. Additive systems can typically reduce this are cut to shape and joined together (e.g., paper, polymer,
time to a few hours, although it varies widely depending metal). Each method has its own advantages and draw-
on the type of machine used and the size and number of backs, which is why some companies offer a choice of
models being produced simultaneously. powder and polymer for the material used to build the
object.[39] Others sometimes use standard, off-the-shelf
Traditional techniques like injection moulding can be business paper as the build material to produce a durable
less expensive for manufacturing polymer products in prototype. The main considerations in choosing a ma-
high quantities, but additive manufacturing can be faster, chine are generally speed, costs of the 3D printer, of the
more flexible and less expensive when producing rela- printed prototype, choice and cost of the materials, and
tively small quantities of parts. 3D printers give design- color capabilities.[40]
ers and concept development teams the ability to produce
parts and concept models using a desktop size printer.[32] Printers that work directly with metals are generally ex-
pensive. However less expensive printers can be used to
make a mold, which is then used to make metal parts.[41]
2.3 Finishing

Though the printer-produced resolution is sufficient for 3.1 Extrusion deposition

many applications, printing a slightly oversized version
of the desired object in standard resolution and then re- Main article: Fused deposition modeling
moving material[33] with a higher-resolution subtractive Fused deposition modeling (FDM), derives from auto-
process can achieve greater precision. matic polymeric foil hot air welding system, hot-melt
glueing and automatic gasket deposition. Such prin-
Some printable polymers such as ABS, allow the surface ciple has been further developed by S. Scott Crump
finish to be smoothed and improved using chemical vapor in the late 1980s and was commercialized in 1990 by
processes[34] based on acetone or similar solvents. Stratasys.[43] After the patent on this technology expired,
Some additive manufacturing techniques are capable of a large open-source development community developed
using multiple materials in the course of constructing and both commercial and DIY variants utilizing this type

involve machines used to shred and extrude the plastic

material into filament. Additionally, fluoropolymers such
as PTFE tubing are used in the process due to the mate-
rial’s ability to withstand high temperatures. This ability
is especially useful in transferring filaments.[44]
FDM is somewhat restricted in the variation of shapes
that may be fabricated. For example, FDM usually can-
not produce stalactite-like structures, since they would be
unsupported during the build. Otherwise, a thin support
must be designed into the structure, which can be broken
away during finishing. Fused deposition modeling is also
referred to as fused filament fabrication (FFF) by com-
panies who do not hold the original patents like Stratasys
Fused deposition modeling: 1 – nozzle ejecting molten material,
2 – deposited material (modeled part), 3 – controlled movable
3.2 Binding of granular materials

Another 3D printing approach is the selective fusing of

materials in a granular bed. The technique fuses parts
of the layer and then moves upward in the working area,
adding another layer of granules and repeating the pro-
cess until the piece has built up. This process uses the
unfused media to support overhangs and thin walls in the
part being produced, which reduces the need for tempo-
rary auxiliary supports for the piece. A laser is typically
used to sinter the media into a solid. Examples include
selective laser sintering (SLS), with both metals and poly-
A timelapse video of a robot model (logo of Make magazine) mers (e.g., PA, PA-GF, Rigid GF, PEEK, PS, Alumide,
being printed using FDM on a RepRapPro Fisher printer. Carbonmide, elastomers), and direct metal laser sintering
of 3D printer appeared. As a result, the price of this tech- Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) was developed and
nology has dropped by two orders of magnitude since its patented by Dr. Carl Deckard and Dr. Joseph Beaman
creation. at the University of Texas at Austin in the mid-1980s,[46]
In fused deposition modeling the model or part is pro- under sponsorship of DARPA. A similar process was
duced by extruding small beads of material which harden patented without being commercialized by R. F. Housh-
immediately to form layers. A thermoplastic filament or older in 1979.
metal wire that is wound on a coil is unreeled to sup- Selective laser melting (SLM) does not use sintering for
ply material to an extrusion nozzle head (3D printer ex- the fusion of powder granules but will completely melt the
truder). The nozzle head heats the material and turns powder using a high-energy laser to create fully dense ma-
the flow on and off. Typically stepper motors or servo terials in a layer-wise method that has mechanical proper-
motors are employed to move the extrusion head and ties similar to those of conventional manufactured metals.
adjust the flow. The printer usually has 3 axes of mo- Electron beam melting (EBM) is a similar type of ad-
tion. A computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software ditive manufacturing technology for metal parts (e.g.
package is used to generate the G-Code that is sent to a titanium alloys). EBM manufactures parts by melt-
microcontroller which controls the motors. ing metal powder layer by layer with an electron beam
Extrusion in 3D printing using material extrusion involves in a high vacuum. Unlike metal sintering techniques
a cold end and a hot end. that operate below melting point, EBM parts are void-
Various polymers are used, including acrylonitrile bu- free.
tadiene styrene (ABS), polycarbonate (PC), polylactic Another method consists of an inkjet 3D printing sys-
acid (PLA), high density polyethylene (HDPE), PC/ABS, tem. The printer creates the model one layer at a time
polyphenylsulfone (PPSU) and high impact polystyrene by spreading a layer of powder (plaster, or resins) and
(HIPS). In general, the polymer is in the form of a fil- printing a binder in the cross-section of the part using an
ament fabricated from virgin resins. There are multiple inkjet-like process. This is repeated until every layer has
projects in the open-sourced community aimed at pro- been printed. This technology allows the printing of full
cessing post-consumer plastic waste into filament. These color prototypes, overhangs, and elastomer parts. The
3.5 Powder Fed Directed Energy Deposition 5

strength of bonded powder prints can be enhanced with In photo-polymerization, a vat of liquid polymer is ex-
wax or thermoset polymer impregnation. posed to controlled lighting under safelight conditions.
The exposed liquid polymer hardens. Polymerization oc-
curs when photopolymers are exposed to light when pho-
3.3 Lamination topolymers contain chromophores, otherwise, the addi-
tion of molecules that are photosensitive are utilized to
Main article: Laminated object manufacturing react with the solution to begin polymerization. Polymer-
ization of monomers lead to cross-linking, which creates
a polymer. Through these covalent bonds, the property
In some printers, paper can be used as the build material,
of the solution is changed.[23] The build plate then moves
resulting in a lower cost to print. During the 1990s some
down in small increments and the liquid polymer is again
companies marketed printers that cut cross sections out
exposed to light. The process repeats until the model has
of special adhesive coated paper using a carbon dioxide
been built. The liquid polymer is then drained from the
laser and then laminated them together.
vat, leaving the solid model. The EnvisionTEC Perfac-
In 2005 Mcor Technologies Ltd developed a different tory[57] is an example of a DLP rapid prototyping system.
process using ordinary sheets of office paper, a tungsten
Inkjet printer systems like the Objet PolyJet system spray
carbide blade to cut the shape, and selective deposition of
photopolymer materials onto a build tray in ultra-thin lay-
adhesive and pressure to bond the prototype.[51]
ers (between 16 and 30 µm) until the part is completed.
There are also a number of companies selling printers Each photopolymer layer is cured with UV light after it is
that print laminated objects using thin plastic and metal jetted, producing fully cured models that can be handled
sheets. and used immediately, without post-curing. The gel-like
support material, which is designed to support compli-
cated geometries, is removed by hand and water jetting.
3.4 Photopolymerization It is also suitable for elastomers.
Ultra-small features can be made with the 3D micro-
fabrication technique used in multiphoton photopoly-
merisation. This approach uses a focused laser to trace
the desired 3D object into a block of gel. Due to the
nonlinear nature of photo excitation, the gel is cured to a
solid only in the places where the laser was focused while
the remaining gel is then washed away. Feature sizes of
under 100 nm are easily produced, as well as complex
structures with moving and interlocked parts.[58]
Yet another approach uses a synthetic resin that is solidi-
fied using LEDs.[59]
In Mask-image-projection-based stereolithography a 3D
digital model is sliced by a set of horizontal planes. Each
slice is converted into a two-dimensional mask image.
The mask image is then projected onto a photocurable
liquid resin surface and light is projected onto the resin
to cure it in the shape of the layer.[60] The technique has
Stereolithography apparatus been used to create objects composed of multiple mate-
rials that cure at different rates.[60] In research systems,
Main article: Stereolithography the light is projected from below, allowing the resin to be
quickly spread into uniform thin layers, reducing produc-
tion time from hours to minutes.[60] Commercially avail-
Stereolithography was patented in 1986 by Chuck
able devices such as Objet Connex apply the resin via
Hull.[52] Photopolymerization is primarily used in stere-
small nozzles.[60]
olithography (SLA) to produce a solid part from a liq-
uid. This process was a dramatic departure from the
"photosculpture" method of François Willème (1830– 3.5 Powder Fed Directed Energy Deposi-
1905) developed in 1860 and the photopolymerization of
Mitsubishi’s Matsubara in 1974.[53]
The “photosculpture” method consisted of photographing In Powder Fed Directed Energy Deposition a high power
a subject from a variety of equidistant angles and project- laser is used to melt metal powder supplied to the focus of
ing each photograph onto a screen, where a pantograph the laser beam. The laser beam typically travels through
was used to trace the outline onto modeling clay.[54][55][56] the center of the deposition head and is focused to a small

spot by one or more lenses. The build occurs on a X-Y to the window (photopolymerization is inhibited between
table which is driven by a tool path created from a digital the window and the polymerizer).[66]
model to fabricate an object layer by layer. The depo- Unlike stereolithography, the printing process is contin-
sition head is moved up vertically as each layer is com- uous. The inventors claim that it can create objects
pleted. Metal powder is delivered and distributed around up to 100 times faster than commercial 3D printing
the circumference of the head or can be split by an in- methods.[65][66][67]
ternal manifold and delivered through nozzles arranged
in various configurations around the deposition head. A
hermetically sealed chamber filled with inert gas or a local
inert shroud gas is often used to shield the melt pool from 4 Printers
atmospheric oxygen for better control of material proper-
ties. The Powder Fed Directed Energy process is similar 4.1 Industry use
to Selective Laser Sintering, but the metal powder is ap-
plied only where material is being added to the part at that As of October 2012, additive manufacturing systems
moment. The process supports a wide range of materials were on the market that ranged from $2,000 to $500,000
including titanium, stainless steel, aluminum, and other in price and were employed in industries including
specialty materials as well as composites and function- aerospace, architecture, automotive, defense, and med-
ally graded material. The process can not only fully build ical replacements, among many others. For example,
new metal parts but can also add material to existing parts General Electric uses the high-end model to build parts
for example for coatings, repair, and hybrid manufactur- for turbines.[68] Many of these systems are used for rapid
ing applications. LENS (Laser Engineered Net Shaping), prototyping, before mass production methods are em-
which was developed by Sandia National Labs, is one ex- ployed.
ample of the Powder Fed - Directed Energy Deposition Higher education has proven to be a major buyer of
process for 3D printing or restoring metal parts.[61][62] desktop and professional 3D printers which industry ex-
perts generally view as a positive indicator.[69] Significant
desktop 3D printer purchases by both K-12 and universi-
3.6 Metal wire processes ties help sustain a desktop 3D printer market that has had
problems in 2015-2016,[70] while universities are filling a
Laser-based wirefeed systems, such as Laser Metal current talent gap that is expected to bolster the industry
Deposition-wire (LMD-w), feed wire through a nozzle in years ahead.[71] Libraries around the world have also
that is melted by a laser using inert gas shielding in either become locations to house smaller 3D printers for educa-
an open environment (gas surrounding the laser), or in a tional and community access.[72]
sealed chamber. Electron beam freeform fabrication uses
an electron beam heat source inside a vacuum chamber.
4.2 Consumer use
It is also possible to use conventional gas metal arc weld-
ing attached to a 3D stage to 3-D print metals such as
steel and aluminum.[63] Low-cost open source RepRap-
style 3-D printers have been outfitted with Arduino-based
sensors and demonstrated reasonable metallurgical prop-
erties from conventional welding wire as feedstock.[64]

3.7 Continuous Liquid Interface Produc-


Continuous Liquid Interface Production (CLIP) is a form

of additive manufacturing that uses photo polymerization
to create smooth-sided solid objects of a wide variety of
shapes. The continuous process begins with a pool of liq-
uid photopolymer resin. Part of the pool bottom is trans-
parent to ultraviolet light (the “window”). An ultraviolet RepRap version 2.0 (Mendel)
light beam shines through the window, illuminating the
precise cross-section of the object. The light causes the Several projects and companies are making efforts
resin to solidify. The object rises slowly enough to allow to develop affordable 3D printers for home desktop
resin to flow under and maintain contact with the bot- use. Much of this work has been driven by and tar-
tom of the object.[65] An oxygen-permeable membrane geted at DIY/Maker/enthusiast/early adopter communi-
lies below the resin, which creates a “dead zone” (persis- ties, with additional ties to the academic and hacker
tent liquid interface) preventing the resin from attaching communities.[73]
4.3 Large 3D printers 7

printing pen”, raised $2.3 million on Kickstarter with the

pens selling at $99,[84] though the 3D Doodler has been
criticized for being more of a crafting pen than a 3D
As the costs of 3D printers have come down they are
becoming more appealing financially to use for self-
manufacturing of personal products.[86] In addition, 3D
printing products at home may reduce the environmental
impacts of manufacturing by reducing material use and
All of the plastic parts for the machine on the right were produced distribution impacts.[87]
by the machine on the left. Adrian Bowyer (left) and Vik Olliver
(right) are members of the RepRap project. In addition, several RecycleBots such as the commer-
cialized Filastruder have been designed and fabricated to
convert waste plastic, such as shampoo containers and
milk jugs, into inexpensive RepRap filament.[88] There
RepRap Project is one of the longest running projects is some evidence that using this approach of distributed
in the desktop category. The RepRap project aims to recycling is better for the environment.[89]
produce a free and open source hardware (FOSH) 3D
The development and hyper-customization of the
printer, whose full specifications are released under the
RepRap-based 3D printers has produced a new category
GNU General Public License, which is capable of repli-
of printers suitable for small business and consumer
cating itself by printing many of its own (plastic) parts
use. Manufacturers such as Solidoodle,[68] Robo 3D,
to create more machines.[74][75] RepRaps have already
RepRapPro and Pirx 3D have introduced models and
been shown to be able to print circuit boards[76] and metal
[77][78] kits priced at less than $1,000, thousands less than
they were in September 2012.[68] Depending on the
Because of the FOSH aims of RepRap, many related application, the print resolution and speed of manufac-
projects have used their design for inspiration, creat- turing lies somewhere between a personal printer and
ing an ecosystem of related or derivative 3D printers, an industrial printer. A list of printers with pricing and
most of which are also open source designs. The avail- other information is maintained.[80] Most recently delta
ability of these open source designs means that vari- robots, like the TripodMaker, have been utilized for 3D
ants of 3D printers are easy to invent. The quality and printing to increase fabrication speed further.[90] For
complexity of printer designs, however, as well as the delta 3D printers, due to its geometry and differentiation
quality of kit or finished products, varies greatly from movements, the accuracy of the print depends on the
project to project. This rapid development of open source position of the printer head.[91]
3D printers is gaining interest in many spheres as it
Some companies are also offering software for 3D print-
enables hyper-customization and the use of public do-
ing, as a support for hardware manufactured by other
main designs to fabricate open source appropriate tech-
nology. This technology can also assist initiatives in
sustainable development since technologies are easily
and economically made from resources available to local
4.3 Large 3D printers
The cost of 3D printers has decreased dramatically since
about 2010, with machines that used to cost $20,000 now
costing less than $1,000.[79] For instance, as of 2013, Large 3D printers have been developed for industrial, ed-
several companies and individuals are selling parts to ucation, and demonstrative uses. A large delta-style 3D
build various RepRap designs, with prices starting at printer was built in 2014 by SeeMeCNC. The printer is
about €400 / US$500.[80] The open source Fab@Home capable of making an object with diameter of up to 4 feet
project[81] has developed printers for general use with (1.2 m) and up to 10 feet (3.0 m) in height. It also uses
anything that can be squirted through a nozzle, from plastic pellets as the raw material instead of the typical
chocolate to silicone sealant and chemical reactants. plastic filaments used in other 3D printers.[93]
Printers following the project’s designs have been avail- Another type of large printer is Big Area Additive Man-
able from suppliers in kits or in pre-assembled form since ufacturing (BAAM). The goal is to develop printers that
2012 at prices in the US$2000 range.[80] The Kickstarter can produce a large object in high speed. A BAAM ma-
funded Peachy Printer is designed to cost $100[82] and chine of Cincinnati Incorporated can produce an object
several other new 3D printers are aimed at the small, at the speeds 200-500 times faster than typical 3D print-
inexpensive market including the mUVe3D and Lumi- ers available in 2014. Another BAAM machine is being
fold. Rapide 3D has designed a professional grade crowd- developed by Lockheed Martin with an aim to print long
sourced 3D-printer costing $1499 which has no fumes objects of up to 100 feet (30 m) to be used in aerospace
nor constant rattle during use.[83] The 3Doodler, “3D industries.[94]

in product development, data visualization, rapid pro-

totyping, and specialized manufacturing. Their expan-
sion into production (job production, mass production,
and distributed manufacturing) has been under develop-
ment in the decades since. Industrial production roles
within the metalworking industries[98] achieved signifi-
cant scale for the first time in the early 2010s. Since the
start of the 21st century there has been a large growth
in the sales of AM machines, and their price has dropped
substantially.[99] According to Wohlers Associates, a con-
sultancy, the market for 3D printers and services was
worth $2.2 billion worldwide in 2012, up 29% from
2011.[100] McKinsey predicts that additive manufacturing
The BigRep One.1 with its 1 m³ volume.
could have an economic impact of $550 billion annually
by 2025.[101] There are many applications for AM tech-
4.4 Microscale and nanoscale 3D printing nologies, including architecture, construction (AEC),
industrial design, automotive, aerospace,[102] military,
Microelectronic device fabrication methods can be em- engineering, dental and medical industries, biotech (hu-
ployed to perform the 3D printing of nanoscale-size ob- man tissue replacement), fashion, footwear, jewelry, eye-
jects. Such printed objects are typically grown on a solid wear, education, geographic information systems, food,
substrate, e.g. silicon wafer, to which they adhere after and many other fields.
printing as they're too small and fragile to be manipulated Additive manufacturing’s earliest applications have been
post-construction. on the toolroom end of the manufacturing spectrum. For
In one technique, 3D nanostructures can be printed example, rapid prototyping was one of the earliest addi-
by physically moving a dynamic stencil mask during tive variants, and its mission was to reduce the lead time
the material deposition process, somewhat analogous and cost of developing prototypes of new parts and de-
to the extrusion method of traditional 3D printers. vices, which was earlier only done with subtractive tool-
Programmable-height nanostructures with resolutions as room methods such as cnc milling and turning, and preci-
small as 10 nm have been produced in this fashion, sion grinding, far more accurate than 3d printing with ac-
by metallic physical vapor deposition through a piezo- curacy down to 0.00005” and creating better quality parts
actuator controlled stencil mask having a milled nanopore faster, but sometimes too expensive for low accuracy pro-
in a silicon nitride membrane.[95] totype parts.[103] With technological advances in additive
manufacturing, however, and the dissemination of those
Another method enhances the photopolymerization pro- advances into the business world, additive methods are
cess on a much smaller scale, using finely-focused lasers moving ever further into the production end of manufac-
controlled by adjustable mirrors. This method has pro- turing in creative and sometimes unexpected ways.[103]
duced objects with feature resolutions of 100 nm.[96] Parts that were formerly the sole province of subtrac-
tive methods can now in some cases be made more prof-
itably via additive ones. In addition, new developments
5 Manufacturing applications in RepRap technology allow the same device to perform
both additive and subtractive manufacturing by swapping
Three-dimensional printing makes it as magnetic-mounted tool heads.[104]
cheap to create single items as it is to produce
thousands and thus undermines economies
of scale. It may have as profound an impact 5.1 Cloud-based additive manufacturing
on the world as the coming of the factory
did....Just as nobody could have predicted Main article: 3D printing marketplace
the impact of the steam engine in 1750—or
the printing press in 1450, or the transistor Additive manufacturing in combination with cloud com-
in 1950—it is impossible to foresee the puting technologies allows decentralized and geograph-
long-term impact of 3D printing. But the ically independent distributed production.[105] Cloud-
technology is coming, and it is likely to disrupt based additive manufacturing refers to a service-
every field it touches. oriented networked manufacturing model in which
— The Economist, in a February 10, 2011 service consumers are able to build parts through
leader[97] Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service
(PaaS), Hardware-as-a-Service (HaaS), and Software-as-
a-Service (SaaS).[106][107][108] Distributed manufacturing
AM technologies found applications starting in the 1980s as such is carried out by some enterprises; there is also a
5.4 Rapid prototyping 9

services like 3D Hubs that put people needing 3D print- ing (SLS), or direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) some
ing in contact with owners of printers.[109] of the better-established rapid prototyping methods. As
Some companies offer on-line 3D printing services to of 2006, however, these techniques were still very much
both commercial and private customers,[110] working in their infancy, with many obstacles to be overcome be-
from 3D designs uploaded to the company website. 3D- fore RM[117] could be considered a realistic manufacturing
printed designs are either shipped to the customer or method.
picked up from the service provider.[111]

5.4 Rapid prototyping

5.2 Mass customization
Main article: Rapid prototyping
Main article: Mass customization
Companies have created services where consumers can Industrial 3D printers have existed since the early 1980s
and have been used extensively for rapid prototyping and
research purposes. These are generally larger machines
that use proprietary powdered metals, casting media (e.g.
sand), plastics, paper or cartridges, and are used for rapid
prototyping by universities and commercial companies.

5.5 Research

3D printing can be particularly useful in research labs

due to its ability to make specialized, bespoke geometries.
In 2012 a proof of principle project at the University of
Glasgow, UK, showed that it is possible to use 3D printing
techniques to assist in the production of chemical com-
pounds. They first printed chemical reaction vessels, then
used the printer to deposit reactants into them.[118] They
have produced new compounds to verify the validity of
the process, but have not pursued anything with a partic-
ular application.[118]
Miniature face models (from FaceGen) produced using several
colored plastics on a 3D Printer
5.6 Food
customize objects using simplified web based customisa-
tion software, and order the resulting items as 3D printed Additive manufacturing of food is being developed by
unique objects.[112][113] This now allows consumers to squeezing out food, layer by layer, into three-dimensional
create custom cases for their mobile phones.[114] Nokia objects. A large variety of foods are appropriate candi-
has released the 3D designs for its case so that owners dates, such as chocolate and candy, and flat foods such as
can customize their own case and have it 3D printed.[115] crackers, pasta,[119] and pizza.[120][121] NASA has consid-
ered the versatility of the concept, awarding a contract to
the Systems and Materials Research Consultancy to study
5.3 Rapid manufacturing the feasibility of printing food in space.[122] One of the
problems with food printing is the nature of the texture
Advances in RP technology have introduced materials of a food. For example, foods that are not strong enough
that are appropriate for final manufacture, which has in to be filed are not appropriate for 3D printing.
turn introduced the possibility of directly manufacturing
finished components. One advantage of 3D printing for
rapid manufacturing lies in the relatively inexpensive pro- 5.7 Medical applications
duction of small numbers of parts.
Rapid manufacturing is a new method of manufacturing Professor Leroy Cronin of Glasgow University proposed
and many of its processes remain unproven. 3D printing in a 2012 TED Talk that it was possible to use chemi-
is now entering the field of rapid manufacturing and was cal inks to print medicine.[123] Similarly, 3D printing has
identified as a “next level” technology by many experts been considered as a method of implanting stem cells
in a 2009 report.[116] One of the most promising pro- capable of generating new tissues and organs in living
cesses looks to be the adaptation of selective laser sinter- humans.[124]

6 Industrial applications XWB included over 1000 components manufactured by

3D printing.[133]
6.1 Apparel 3D printing is also being utilized by air forces to print
spare parts for planes. In 2015, a Royal Air Force
3D printing has entered the world of clothing with fashion Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jet flew with printed parts.
designers experimenting with 3D-printed bikinis, shoes, The United States Air Force has begun to work with 3D
and dresses.[125] In commercial production Nike is using printers, and the Israeli Air Force has also purchased a
3D printing to prototype and manufacture the 2012 Va- 3D printer to print spare parts.[134]
por Laser Talon football shoe for players of American
football, and New Balance is 3D manufacturing custom-
fit shoes for athletes.[125][126]
3D printing has come to the point where companies are 6.3 Construction
printing consumer grade eyewear with on-demand cus-
tom fit and styling (although they cannot print the lenses). Main article: Building printing
On-demand customization of glasses is possible with
rapid prototyping.[127]
Until recent years models were built by hand, often tak-
However, comment has been made in academic circles ing a long time. Thus, architects are often forced to show
as to the potential limitation of the human acceptance of their clients drawings of their projects. According to Erik
such mass customised apparel items due to the potential Kinipper, clients usually need to see the product from
reduction of brand value communication.[128] all possible viewpoints in space to get a clearer picture
of the design and make an informed decision. In order
to get these scale models to clients in a small amount of
6.2 Vehicle
time, architects and architecture firms tend to rely on 3D
printing.[135] Using 3D printing, these firms can reduce
lead times of production by 50 to 80 percent, produc-
ing scale models up to 60 percent lighter than the ma-
chined part while being sturdy.[136] Thus, the designs and
the models are only limited by a person’s imagination.
The use of 3D printing in architecture is still small as
logistics are being ironed out, but a new proof of con-
cept has just been unveiled. The 250-square-metre space
(2,700 square foot) is what Dubai’s Museum of the Fu-
ture project is calling the world’s first 3D-printed office
building. China unveiled the world’s first 3D printed of-
fice building and mansion in early 2015.
The improvements on accuracy, speed and quality of ma-
terials in 3D printing technology have opened new doors
The Audi RSQ was made with rapid prototyping industrial KUKA for it to move beyond the use of 3D printing in the mod-
robots eling process and actually move it to manufacturing strat-
egy. A good example is Dr. Behrokh Khoshnevis’ re-
In early 2014, the Swedish supercar manufacturer, search at the University of Southern California which re-
Koenigsegg, announced the One:1, a supercar that uti- sulted in a 3D printer that can build a house in 24 hours
lizes many components that were 3D printed. In the lim- .The process is called Contour Crafting. Khoshnevis,
ited run of vehicles Koenigsegg produces, the One:1 has Russell, Kwon, & Bukkapatnam, define contour crafting
side-mirror internals, air ducts, titanium exhaust compo- as an additive manufacturing process which uses com-
nents, and complete turbocharger assemblies that were puter controlled systems to repeatedly lay down layers of
3D printed as part of the manufacturing process.[129] materials such as concrete. Bushey also discussed Khosh-
nevis’s robot which comes equipped with a nozzle that
Urbee is the name of the first car in the world car mounted spews out concrete and can build a home based on a set
using the technology 3D printing (his bodywork and his computer pattern. Contour Crafting technology has great
car windows were “printed”). Created in 2010 through potential for automating the construction of whole struc-
the partnership between the US engineering group Kor tures as well as sub-components. Using this process, a
Ecologic and the company Stratasys (manufacturer of single house or a colony of houses, each with possibly a
printers Stratasys 3D), it is a hybrid vehicle with futur- different design, may be automatically constructed in a
istic look.[130][131][132] single run, embedded in each house all the conduits for
In May 2015 Airbus announced that its new Airbus A350 electrical, plumbing and air-conditioning.[137]
6.5 Medical 11

6.4 Firearms
Main article: 3D printed firearms

In 2012, the US-based group Defense Distributed dis-

closed plans to "[design] a working plastic gun that could
be downloaded and reproduced by anybody with a 3D
printer.”[138][139] Defense Distributed has also designed
a 3D printable AR-15 type rifle lower receiver (capa-
ble of lasting more than 650 rounds) and a 30 round
M16 magazine The AR-15 has multiple receivers (both
an upper and lower receiver), but the legally controlled
part is the one that is serialized (the lower, in the AR-
15’s case). Soon after Defense Distributed succeeded
in designing the first working blueprint to produce a
plastic gun with a 3D printer in May 2013, the United
States Department of State demanded that they remove
the instructions from their website.[140] After Defense
Distributed released their plans, questions were raised
regarding the effects that 3D printing and widespread
consumer-level CNC machining[141][142] may have on gun
control effectiveness.[143][144][145][146]
In 2014, a man from Japan became the first per-
son in the world to be imprisoned for making 3D
printed firearms.[147] Yoshitomo Imura posted videos and 3D printed human skull from computed computer tomography
blueprints of the gun online and was sentenced to jail for data.
two years. Police found at least two guns in his household
that were capable of firing bullets.[147]
E-nable, an open source design organisation which uses
a network of volunteers to design and make prosthetics
6.5 Medical mainly for children. The prosthetic hand was based on a
plaster cast made by her parents.[152] A boy named Alex
See also: Biomolecular printing was also born with a missing arm from just above the el-
3D printing has been used to print patient specific im- bow. The team was able to use 3D printing to upload an
plant and device for medical use. Successful operations e-NABLE Myoelectric arm that runs off of servos and
include a titanium pelvis implanted into a British patient, batteries that are actuated by the electromyography mus-
titanium lower jaw transplanted to a Belgian patient,[148] cle. With the use of 3D printers, E-NABLE has so far
and a plastic tracheal splint for an American infant.[149] distributed more than 400 plastic hands to children.
The hearing aid and dental industries are expected to be
Printed prosthetics have been used in rehabilitation of
the biggest area of future development using the custom
[150] crippled animals. In 2013, a 3D printed foot let a crippled
3D printing technology. In March 2014, surgeons in
duckling walk again.[153] In 2014 a chihuahua born with-
Swansea used 3D printed parts to rebuild the face of a
out front legs was fitted with a harness and wheels created
motorcyclist who had been seriously injured in a road
[151] with a 3D printer.[154] 3D printed hermit crab shells let
accident. Research is also being conducted on meth-
hermit crabs inhabit a new style home.[155] A prosthetic
ods to bio-print replacements for lost tissue due to arthri-
beak was another tool developed by the use of 3D printing
tis and cancer .
to help aid a bald eagle named Beauty, whose beak was
3D printing technology can now be used to make exact severely mutilated from a shot in the face. Since 2014,
replicas of organs. The printer uses images from patients’ commercially available titanium knee implants made with
MRI or CT scan images as a template and lays down lay- 3D printer for dogs have been used to restore the animal
ers of rubber or plastic. mobility. Over 10,000 dogs in Europe and United States
have been treated after only one year.[156]
6.5.1 Medical devices In February 2015, FDA approved the marketing of a sur-
gical bolt which facilitates less-invasive foot surgery and
In October 24, 2014, a five-year-old girl born without eliminates the need to drill through bone. The 3D printed
fully formed fingers on her left hand became the first titanium device, 'FastForward Bone Tether Plate' is ap-
child in the UK to have a prosthetic hand made with 3D proved to use in correction surgery to treat bunion.[157] In
printing technology. Her hand was designed by US-based October 2015, the group of Professor Andreas Herrmann

at the University of Groningen has developed the first 3D OpenBook standard laptop cases. I.e. a Novena mother-
printable resins with antimicrobial properties. Employ- board can be bought and be used in a printed VIA Open-
ing stereolithography, quaternary ammonium groups are Book case.[169]
incorporated into dental appliances that kill bacteria on Open-source robots are built using 3D printers. Double
contact. This type of material can be further applied in Robotics grant access to their technology (an open
medical devices and implants.[158] SDK).[170][171][172] On the other hand, 3&DBot is an
Arduino 3D printer-robot with wheels[173] and ODOI is
6.5.2 Bio-printing a 3D printed humanoid robot.[174]

As of 2012, 3D bio-printing technology has been stud-

ied by biotechnology firms and academia for possible 6.7 Space
use in tissue engineering applications in which organs
and body parts are built using inkjet techniques. In See also: 3D-printed spacecraft and 3D printing §
this process, layers of living cells are deposited onto Construction
a gel medium or sugar matrix and slowly built up
to form three-dimensional structures including vascular The Zero-G Printer, the first 3D printer designed to op-
systems.[159] The first production system for 3D tissue erate in zero gravity, was built under a joint partnership
printing was delivered in 2009, based on NovoGen bio- between NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC)
printing technology.[160] Several terms have been used to and Made In Space, Inc.[175] In September 2014, SpaceX
refer to this field of research: organ printing, bio-printing, delivered the zero-gravity 3D printer to the International
body part printing,[161] and computer-aided tissue engi- Space Station (ISS). On December 19, 2014, NASA
neering, among others.[162] The possibility of using 3D emailed CAD drawings for a socket wrench to astronauts
tissue printing to create soft tissue architectures for re- aboard the ISS, who then printed the tool using its 3D
constructive surgery is also being explored.[163] printer. Applications for space offer the ability to print
In 2013, Chinese scientists began printing ears, livers parts or tools on-site, as opposed to using rockets to bring
and kidneys, with living tissue. Researchers in China along pre-manufactured items for space missions to hu-
have been able to successfully print human organs using man colonies on the moon, Mars, or elsewhere.[176] The
specialized 3D bio printers that use living cells instead European Space Agency plans to deliver its new Portable
of plastic . Researchers at Hangzhou Dianzi University On-Board 3D Printer (POP3D for short) to the Interna-
designed the “3D bio printer” dubbed the “Regenovo”. tional Space Station by June 2015, making it the second
Xu Mingen, Regenovo’s developer, said that it takes the 3D printer in space.[177][178]
printer under an hour to produce either a mini liver sam- Furthermore, the Sinterhab project is researching a lunar
ple or a four to five inch ear cartilage sample. Xu also pre- base constructed by 3D printing using lunar regolith as a
dicted that fully functional printed organs may be possible base material. Instead of adding a binding agent to the
within the next ten to twenty years.[164][165] In the same regolith, researchers are experimenting with microwave
year, researchers at the University of Hasselt, in Belgium sintering to create solid blocks from the raw material.[179]
had successfully printed a new jawbone for an 83-year-
Similar researches and projects like these could allow
old Belgian woman.[166]
faster construction for lower costs, and has been inves-
tigated for construction of off-Earth habitats.[180][181]
6.5.3 Pills

The first pill manufactured by 3D printing was approved 7 Sociocultural applications

by the FDA in August 2015. Binder-jetting into a pow-
der bed of the drug allows very porous pills to be pro-
In 2005, a rapidly expanding hobbyist and home-use mar-
duced, which enables high drug doses in a single pill
ket was established with the inauguration of the open-
which dissolves quickly and can be ingested easily.[167]
source RepRap and Fab@Home projects. Virtually all
This has been demonstrated for Spritam, a reformulation
home-use 3D printers released to-date have their tech-
of levetiracetam for the treatment of epilepsy.[168]
nical roots in the ongoing RepRap Project and associated
open-source software initiatives.[182] In distributed manu-
facturing, one study has found[183] that 3D printing could
6.6 Computers and robots become a mass market product enabling consumers to
save money associated with purchasing common house-
See also: Modular design and Open-source robotics hold objects.[86] For example, instead of going to a store
to buy an object made in a factory by injection molding
3D printing can also be used to make laptops and other (such as a measuring cup or a funnel), a person might in-
computers and cases. For example, Novena and VIA stead print it at home from a downloaded 3D model.
7.2 Communication 13

(the V&A). The installation was called Industrial Revo-

lution 2.0: How the Material World will Newly Material-
Some of the recent developments in 3D printing were re-
vealed at the 3DPrintshow in London, which took place in
November 2013 and 2014. The art section had in expo-
sition artworks made with 3D printed plastic and metal.
Several artists such as Joshua Harker, Davide Prete, So-
phie Kahn, Helena Lukasova, Foteini Setaki showed how
3D printing can modify aesthetic and art processes. One
part of the show focused on ways in which 3D printing
can advance the medical field. The underlying theme of
these advances was that these printers can be used to cre-
An example of 3D printed limited edition jewellery. This neck-
ate parts that are printed with specifications to meet each
lace is made of glassfiber-filled dyed nylon. It has rotating link-
ages that were produced in the same manufacturing step as the
individual. This makes the process safer and more effi-
other parts cient. One of these advances is the use of 3D printers
to produce casts that are created to mimic the bones that
they are supporting. These custom-fitted casts are open,
which allow the wearer to scratch any itches and also wash
the damaged area. Being open also allows for open ven-
tilation. One of the best features is that they can be recy-
cled to create more casts.[188]
3D printing is becoming more popular in the customis-
able gifts industry, with products such as personalized
mobile phone cases and dolls,[189] as well as 3D printed
The use of 3D scanning technologies allows the replica-
tion of real objects without the use of moulding tech-
niques that in many cases can be more expensive, more
difficult, or too invasive to be performed, particularly for
precious or delicate cultural heritage artifacts[191] where
direct contact with the moulding substances could harm
the original object’s surface.
Critical making refers to the hands on productive activi-
ties that link digital technologies to society. It is invented
to bridge the gap between creative physical and concep-
tual exploration.[192] The term was popularized by Matt
Ratto, an Assistant Professor and director of the Critical
Making lab in the Faculty of Information at the University
of Toronto. Ratto describes one of the main goals of crit-
ical as “to use material forms of engagement with tech-
Guardians of Time by Manfred Kielnhofer, 3D printing polished nologies to supplement and extend critical reflection and,
nickel steel by Shapeways in 2014 in doing so, to reconnect our lived experiences with tech-
nologies to social and conceptual critique”.[193] The main
focus of critical making is open design,[194] which in-
7.1 Art cludes, in addition to 3D printing technologies, also other
digital software and hardware. People usually reference
In 2005, academic journals had begun to report spectacular design when explaining critical making.[195]
on the possible artistic applications of 3D printing
technology,[184] being used by artists such as Martin John
Callanan at The Bartlett school of architecture. By 2007 7.2 Communication
the mass media followed with an article in the Wall Street
Journal[185] and Time Magazine, listing a 3D printed Employing additive layer technology offered by 3D print-
design among their 100 most influential designs of the ing, Terahertz devices which act as waveguides, couplers
year.[186] During the 2011 London Design Festival, an in- and bends have been created. The complex shape of these
stallation, curated by Murray Moss and focused on 3D devices could not be achieved using conventional fabri-
Printing, was held in the Victoria and Albert Museum cation techniques. Commercially available professional

grade printer EDEN 260V was used to create structures source labs.[212] Engineering and design principles are ex-
with minimum feature size of 100 µm. The printed struc- plored as well as architectural planning. Students recreate
tures were later DC sputter coated with gold (or any other duplicates of museum items such as fossils and histori-
metal) to create a Terahertz Plasmonic Device.[196] cal artifacts for study in the classroom without possibly
damaging sensitive collections. Other students interested
in graphic designing can construct models with complex
7.3 Domestic use working parts easily. 3D printing gives students a new
perspective with topographic maps. Science students can
Some early consumer examples of 3d printing include study cross-sections of internal organs of the human body
the 64DD released in 1999 in Japan.[197][198] As of 2012, and other biological specimens. And chemistry students
domestic 3D printing was mainly practiced by hobbyists can explore 3D models of molecules and the relationship
and enthusiasts. However, little was used for practical within chemical compounds.[213]
household applications, for example, ornamental objects.
According to a recent paper by Kostakis et al.,[214] 3D
Some practical examples include a working clock[199] and
printing and design can electrify various literacies and
gears printed for home woodworking machines among
creative capacities of children in accordance with the
other purposes.[200] Web sites associated with home 3D
spirit of the interconnected, information-based world.
printing tended to include backscratchers, coat hooks,
door knobs, etc.[201] Future applications for 3D printing might include creating
open-source scientific equipment.[212][215]
The open source Fab@Home project[81] has developed
printers for general use. They have been used in research
environments to produce chemical compounds with 3D 7.5 Environmental use
printing technology, including new ones, initially with-
out immediate application as proof of principle.[118] The In Bahrain, large-scale 3D printing using a sandstone-
printer can print with anything that can be dispensed from like material has been used to create unique coral-shaped
a syringe as liquid or paste. The developers of the chemi- structures, which encourage coral polyps to colonize and
cal application envisage both industrial and domestic use regenerate damaged reefs. These structures have a much
for this technology, including enabling users in remote lo- more natural shape than other structures used to create
cations to be able to produce their own medicine or house- artificial reefs, and, unlike concrete, are neither acid nor
hold chemicals.[202][203] alkaline with neutral pH.[216]
3D printing is now working its way into households, and
more and more children are being introduced to the con-
cept of 3D printing at earlier ages. The prospects of 7.6 Cultural Heritage
3D printing are growing, and as more people have ac-
cess to this new innovation, new uses in households will In the last several years 3D printing has been intensively
emerge.[204] used by in the cultural heritage field for preservation,
restoration and dissemination purposes.[217] Many Eu-
The OpenReflex SLR film camera was developed for 3D ropeans and North American Museums have purchased
printing as an open-source student project.[205] 3D printers and actively recreate missing pieces of their

7.4 Education and research The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the British Mu-
seum have started using their 3D printers to cre-
3D printing, and open source 3D printers in particu- ate museum souvenirs that are available in the mu-
lar, are the latest technology making inroads into the seum shops.[219] Other museums, like the National Mu-
classroom.[206][207][208] 3D printing allows students to cre- seum of Military History and Varna Historical Museum,
ate prototypes of items without the use of expensive tool- have gone further and sell through the online platform
ing required in subtractive methods. Students design and Threeding digital models of their artifacts, created using
produce actual models they can hold. The classroom en- Artec 3D scanners, in 3D printing friendly file format,
vironment allows students to learn and employ new ap- which everyone can 3D print at home.[220]
plications for 3D printing.[209] RepRaps, for example,
have already been used for an educational mobile robotics
7.7 Specialty materials
Some authors have claimed that 3D printers offer an un- Consumer grade 3D printing has resulted in new mate-
precedented “revolution” in STEM education.[211] The rials that have been developed specifically for 3D print-
evidence for such claims comes from both the low cost ers. For example, filament materials have been developed
ability for rapid prototyping in the classroom by students, to imitate wood in its appearance as well as its texture.
but also the fabrication of low-cost high-quality scientific Furthermore, new technologies, such as infusing carbon
equipment from open hardware designs forming open- fiber[221] into printable plastics, allowing for a stronger,
8.2 Gun legislation and administration 15

lighter material. In addition to new structural materials the non-functional features may be claimed under design
that have been developed due to 3D printing, new tech- law whereas any technical features could only be claimed
nologies have allowed for patterns to be applied directly to if covered by a valid patent.
3D printed parts. Iron oxide-free Portland cement pow-
der has been used to create architectural structures up to
9 feet in height.[222][223][224] 8.2 Gun legislation and administration

The US Department of Homeland Security and the Joint

Regional Intelligence Center released a memo stating that
8 Legal aspects “significant advances in three-dimensional (3D) print-
ing capabilities, availability of free digital 3D printable
8.1 Intellectual property files for firearms components, and difficulty regulating
file sharing may present public safety risks from unqual-
ified gun seekers who obtain or manufacture 3D printed
See also: Free hardware
guns,” and that “proposed legislation to ban 3D print-
ing of weapons may deter, but cannot completely prevent
3D printing has existed for decades within certain manu- their production. Even if the practice is prohibited by
facturing industries where many legal regimes, including new legislation, online distribution of these 3D printable
patents, industrial design rights, copyright, and trademark files will be as difficult to control as any other illegally
may apply. However, there is not much jurisprudence to traded music, movie or software files.”[228]
say how these laws will apply if 3D printers become main-
Internationally, where gun controls are generally stricter
stream and individuals and hobbyist communities begin
than in the United States, some commentators have said
manufacturing items for personal use, for non-profit dis-
the impact may be more strongly felt, as alternative
tribution, or for sale.
firearms are not as easily obtainable.[229] Officials in the
Any of the mentioned legal regimes may prohibit the dis- United Kingdom have noted that producing a 3D printed
tribution of the designs used in 3D printing, or the dis- gun would be illegal under their gun control laws.[230]
tribution or sale of the printed item. To be allowed to Europol stated that criminals have access to other sources
do these things, where an active intellectual property was of weapons, but noted that as the technology improved
involved, a person would have to contact the owner and the risks of an effect would increase.[231][232] Downloads
ask for a licence, which may come with conditions and a of the plans from the UK, Germany, Spain, and Brazil
price. However, many patent, design and copyright laws were heavy.[233][234]
contain a standard limitation or exception for 'private',
Attempting to restrict the distribution over the Internet
'non-commercial' use of inventions, designs or works of
of gun plans has been likened to the futility of prevent-
art protected under intellectual property (IP). That stan-
ing the widespread distribution of DeCSS which enabled
dard limitation or exception may leave such private, non-
DVD ripping.[235][236][237][238] After the US government
commercial uses outside the scope of IP rights.
had Defense Distributed take down the plans, they were
Patents cover inventions including processes, machines, still widely available via The Pirate Bay and other file
manufactures, and compositions of matter and have a fi- sharing sites.[239] Some US legislators have proposed reg-
nite duration which varies between countries, but gener- ulations on 3D printers, to prevent them being used for
ally 20 years from the date of application. Therefore, if a printing guns.[240][241] 3D printing advocates have sug-
type of wheel is patented, printing, using, or selling such gested that such regulations would be futile, could crip-
a wheel could be an infringement of the patent.[225] ple the 3D printing industry, and could infringe on free
Copyright covers an expression [226]
in a tangible, fixed speech rights, with early pioneer of 3D printing Profes-
medium and often lasts for the life of the author plus sor Hod Lipson[242][243][244][245][246][247][248]
suggesting that gunpowder could be con-
70 years thereafter. [227]
If someone makes a statue, they trolled instead.
may have copyright on the look of that statue, so if some-
one sees that statue, they cannot then distribute designs
to print an identical or similar statue. 9 Impact
When a feature has both artistic (copyrightable) and func-
tional (patentable) merits, when the question has ap- Additive manufacturing, starting with today’s infancy pe-
peared in US court, the courts have often held the fea- riod, requires manufacturing firms to be flexible, ever-
ture is not copyrightable unless it can be separated from improving users of all available technologies to remain
the functional aspects of the item.[227] In other countries competitive. Advocates of additive manufacturing also
the law and the courts may apply a different approach al- predict that this arc of technological development will
lowing, for example, the design of a useful device to be counter globalization, as end users will do much of their
registered (as a whole) as an industrial design on the un- own manufacturing rather than engage in trade to buy
derstanding that, in case of unauthorized copying, only products from other people and corporations.[5] The real

integration of the newer additive technologies into com- whose competitive dynamics were about economies of
mercial production, however, is more a matter of comple- scale, Commons-based peer production and 3D print-
menting traditional subtractive methods rather than dis- ing could develop economies of scope. While the ad-
placing them entirely.[249] vantages of scale rest on cheap global transportation, the
economies of scope share infrastructure costs (intangible
and tangible productive resources), taking advantage of
9.1 Social change the capabilities of the fabrication tools.[257] And follow-
ing Neil Gershenfeld [262] in that “some of the least devel-
Since the 1950s, a number of writers and social com- oped parts of the world need some of the most advanced
mentators have speculated in some depth about the so- technologies”, Commons-based peer production and 3D
cial and cultural changes that might result from the ad- printing may offer the necessary tools for thinking glob-
vent of commercially affordable additive manufacturing ally but act locally in response to certain problems and
technology.[250] Amongst the more notable ideas to have needs.
emerged from these inquiries has been the suggestion
that, as more and more 3D printers start to enter peo- Larry Summers wrote about the “devastating conse-
ple’s homes, so the conventional relationship between the quences” of 3D printing and other technologies (robots,
home and the workplace might get further eroded.[251] artificial intelligence, etc.) for those who perform rou-
Likewise, it has also been suggested that, as it becomes tine tasks. In his view, “already there are more Amer-
easier for businesses to transmit designs for new objects ican men on disability insurance than doing production
around the globe, so the need for high-speed freight ser- work in manufacturing. And the trends are all in the
vices might also become less.[252] Finally, given the ease wrong direction, particularly for the less skilled, as the
with which certain objects can now be replicated, it re- capacity of capital embodying artificial intelligence to
mains to be seen whether changes will be made to current replace white-collar as well as blue-collar work will in-
copyright legislation so as to protect intellectual property crease rapidly in the years ahead.” Summers recommends
rights with the new technology widely available. more vigorous cooperative efforts to address the “myr-
iad devices” (e.g., tax havens, bank secrecy, money laun-
As 3D printers became more accessible to consumers, dering, and regulatory arbitrage) enabling the holders of
online social platforms have developed to support the great wealth to “avoid paying” income and estate taxes,
community.[253] This includes websites that allow users and to make it more difficult to accumulate great fortunes
to access information such as how to build a 3D printer, without requiring “great social contributions” in return,
as well as social forums that discuss how to improve including: more vigorous enforcement of anti-monopoly
3D print quality and discuss 3D printing news, as well laws, reductions in “excessive” protection for intellec-
as social media websites that are dedicated to share 3D tual property, greater encouragement of profit-sharing
models.[254][255][256] RepRap is a wiki based website that schemes that may benefit workers and give them a stake
was created to hold all information on 3d printing, and has in wealth accumulation, strengthening of collective bar-
developed into a community that aims to bring 3D print- gaining arrangements, improvements in corporate gover-
ing to everyone. Furthermore, there are other sites such nance, strengthening of financial regulation to eliminate
as Pinshape, Thingiverse and MyMiniFactory, which was subsidies to financial activity, easing of land-use restric-
created initially to allow users to post 3D files for anyone tions that may cause the real estate of the rich to keep
to print, allowing for decreased transaction cost of shar- rising in value, better training for young people and re-
ing 3D files. These websites have allowed for greater so- training for displaced workers, and increased public and
cial interaction between users, creating communities ded- private investment in infrastructure development—e.g.,
icated around 3D printing. in energy production and transportation.[263]
Some [257][258][259] call attention to the conjunction of Michael Spence wrote that “Now comes a … powerful,
Commons-based peer production with 3D printing and wave of digital technology that is replacing labor in in-
other low-cost manufacturing techniques. The self- creasingly complex tasks. This process of labor substitu-
reinforced fantasy of a system of eternal growth can be tion and disintermediation has been underway for some
overcome with the development of economies of scope, time in service sectors—think of ATMs, online bank-
and here, the civil society can play an important role con- ing, enterprise resource planning, customer relationship
tributing to the raising of the whole productive structure management, mobile payment systems, and much more.
to a higher plateau of more sustainable and customized This revolution is spreading to the production of goods,
productivity.[257] Further, it is true that many issues, prob- where robots and 3D printing are displacing labor.” In his
lems and threats rise due to the large democratization view, the vast majority of the cost of digital technologies
of the means of production, and especially regarding the comes at the start, in the design of hardware (e.g. 3D
physical ones.[257] For instance, the recyclability of ad- printers) and, more important, in creating the software
vanced nanomaterials is still questioned; weapons man- that enables machines to carry out various tasks. “Once
ufacturing could become easier; not to mention the im- this is achieved, the marginal cost of the hardware is rel-
plications on counterfeiting [260] and on IP.[261] It might atively low (and declines as scale rises), and the marginal
be maintained that in contrast to the industrial paradigm

cost of replicating the software is essentially zero. With • MakerBot Industries

a huge potential global market to amortize the upfront
fixed costs of design and testing, the incentives to invest • Milling center
[in digital technologies] are compelling.” Spence believes • Organ-on-a-chip
that, unlike prior digital technologies, which drove firms
to deploy underutilized pools of valuable labor around the • Self-replicating machine
world, the motivating force in the current wave of dig- • Ultimaker
ital technologies “is cost reduction via the replacement
of labor.” For example, as the cost of 3D printing tech- • Volumetric printing
nology declines, it is “easy to imagine” that production
may become “extremely” local and customized. More-
over, production may occur in response to actual demand, 11 References
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Already Upended the World”. The Atlantic Wire.
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13 External links
• Rapid prototyping websites at DMOZ

14 Text and image sources, contributors, and licenses

14.1 Text
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Jim1138, Jo3sampl, Flewis, Materialscientist, Asarkof, Citation bot, Techdoctor, LilHelpa, Sudoaptitude, Erud, Melmann, Nrpf22pr,
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Psubhashish, Widr, Heyandy889, Knives182, Anupmehra, Parthdu, CasualVisitor, Sameenahmedkhan, Glenjiman, Rapatan, IBrow1000,
Helpful Pixie Bot, HMSSolent, Strike Eagle, Calabe1992, DBigXray, Technical 13, Jessica.yau, BG19bot, Beckyc24, Mohamed CJ,
Fi63321, 2botmodelmaker, Larsona, Juro2351, John Cummings, Mr.TAMER.Shlash, Nospildoh, ElphiBot, Frze, Jonathan Mauer,
Zipzip50, Canoe1967, Phaneza, Praefulgidus, Sparthorse, DPL bot, John2bob, Bigmanbiggerman, Greenjackalope, Superfatcatgriz, Iliahs,
Ginger Maine Coon, Fotoriety, 2botmarketing, Nanobliss, ThirthtonThithtertinton, Johnoly99, Makergear, AeroAlonso, Aisteco, Joseph-
woh, Usearch, Lindalise, Carliitaeliza, BattyBot, 3dfuture, Citing, Guanaco55, Harrington0007, Autodidaktos, StarryGrandma, CelticWar-
rior49, MahdiBot, Cjripper, Cyberbot II, The Illusive Man, Jmcneil747, ChrisGualtieri, Embrittled, JNevil, EuroCarGT, Jos.scheepers, Fe-
lixphew, Paulaoceans, Serveradar2, IjonTichyIjonTichy, Uuu201, ExOne3D, Deezmaker, EagerToddler39, Kmm25, Blacksnark, Dexbot,
Cervanza, Crc2012, Hmainsbot1, Mogism, 15mehr, Airwolf3d, Cerabot~enwiki, CLEChick, TwoTwoHello, Purplematty, Lugia2453,
SFK2, Graphium, Tropicanamarie, CarolineKaup, MeliesArt, Janpih~enwiki, Eventorbot, Luli17, Ralphvb, Sam cfd, RandomLittleHelper,
Signalbox, Hussulo, Joeinwiki, BlueRoll18, Austinn26, RaulyPatel01, Gaspardbos, Theo’s Little Bot, Wjmcneil747, Troutmagnificent,
Janus Savimbi, JulieAsarkofReece, Inntellektt, Dogenx, François Robere, Needle Mush, Andrewmtravels, Chibigold, Peabodybore, Tenti-
nator, Everymorning, Amykam32, CosmosSoup, Rebstei, Rosenblumb1, Mskramer, EvergreenFir, Paul Whittaker Inovar, Bonmarly13,
Backendgaming, Awartski, Sukumaar mane, SpecialGuy, Suswaltz, Kyle.maddox10, Branda.quintana, Alyssacles, Apeman2, Batboys,
Comp.arch, Corinnecory, Koza1983, Thevideodrome, Ugog Nizdast, Soxtherobot, Tehben1, VelocityRap, Geekgirl72, Stephendavion,
Mandruss, Ginsuloft, Manospeed, Rocco49228, Rcrumpf, Shashanksays123, RomyBallieux, RAF910, Acalycine, Cimorthing, Maloney-
Tim, M brinklow, TylerGreenberg, JohnAlexanderStewart, Noyster, DarkestElephant, Wilro, Nutterbutter54, UY Scuti, Stamptrader, Yo-
dasSpecies, Atanasov anton, Mauricio.delgado, Shellytel, Matsci2, Éffièdaligrh, Kingnyancatjack, ScienceFanatic100, Epic Failure, Super-
cell121, No longer a penguin, Itsalleasy, Wynnm5, Sliverpool9, Ralph80, HyDavo, Mindblaster6, TheEpTic, Suli92, Jeromic, Norseman08,
Tonystarkman, HackerTon, Pezminer12, NastyMan99, Mr. Smart LION, Lagoset, Adele0622, Robo3dprinter, JBCVS, Filedelinkerbot,
Jrrfunding, SustainabilityAndy, Rory Top, Fyddlestix, Robinluniya, Ke48273, The Original Filfi, SpanglishArmado, Biggermig, Stakall,
Xinai520, Kinetic37, Lor, Verdana Bold, JezGrove, StephaniePBorger, Active 3D, Info202final, Astevens9, 3dgeek, Smfrayne, KH-1,
14.2 Images 27

Mario Castelán Castro, Ununuhuh, Merad17, Randomuser0122, ChamithN, Wolftribe, Nataraj.e, Mehari79, Alexliow, Cw585, Lgao33,
Jvnap426, Kitty Hazel, Dorivaldo de C. M. dos Santos, Zppix, Cellogoodbye, Pgold009, Kisg24, Amustaf2, JimmyWagger, Seamusprs,
Highty1, Blistro, Sarr Cat, UnknownHenson, Mike Shostak, Swelch12, Gurragb, Jalbo01, Evanslyne, Wins.rajan, Travis836, Puramix, Zort-
wort, Jfc4me, Claudio.cantone, CV9933, Cm300883, Truasami, ETwomey, Condius Cabo, Nickschwing, Adamiszczu, Krubinstein325,
Kourousis, Fdm11, Infinite0694, Bananaforreal, Cassie meyer, Ivorycoasty, Empowering you, Gabrishl, GerraldGoogle, Nemesis2473,
Macon11268865799?!', YesPretense, Alistairgray42, He3dwendy, ChemWarfare, ITGURU2015, Mackalna, Wikiowl66, TheEditor867,
R3sJAP155M, Peter3dsmith, Tripl5.creative, Mebakassahun, ProprioMe OW, Bijayabikramsamal, Eric2718,, Berting
Li, Tlterp, Kaliardor, OrganicEarth, Orbit4447, JayLoerns, Ahouston5, Pos333, ChrisGuinvlx268, Shyannawalls, Msarraci, Lol mas-
ter 6969, Casales1, Immcim2c, Blakenyguen, Suaveuser, Wdornenburg, Kristenhinzee, Piyush0fc, Jaxcab, Gui le chat, Gangdong0518,
C10H16N5O13P3, DatGuy, BarnyardOwl, Retu44, Amy JC123, Exa100, Linuxliam, Donovanj2, AllBestFaith, MinalK92, Rugpcbe,
Print3db, Crisstian1, Zayan1992, Daimand, 3Dnasa, Chillatulit, Optomec, Fmadd, 207 Peter, Osingh1, Goodreads5398, PCoastgirl and
Anonymous: 810

14.2 Images
• File:3D_Printed_Macrognathism.jpg Source:
jpg License: CC BY-SA 3.0 Contributors: 3D model: Own work Photo by User:leylosh Original artist: Nevit Dilmen (<a href='//commons.' title='User talk:Nevit'>talk</a>)
• File:84530877_FillingSys_(9415669149).jpg Source:
%289415669149%29.jpg License: CC BY 2.0 Contributors: 84530877_FillingSys Original artist: OKFoundryCompany from Richmond,
• File:Ambox_current_red.svg Source: License: CC0
Contributors: self-made, inspired by Gnome globe current event.svg, using Information icon3.svg and Earth clip art.svg Original artist:
Vipersnake151, penubag, Tkgd2007 (clock)
• File:BigRep-One.jpg Source: License: CC BY-SA 4.0 Contrib-
utors: Own work Original artist: Gui le chat
• File:Chodowiecki_Basedow_Tafel_21_c_Z.jpg Source:
Basedow_Tafel_21_c_Z.jpg License: Public domain Contributors: DANIEL CHODOWIECKI 62 bisher unveröffentlichte Handzeichnungen
zu dem Elementarwerk von Johann Bernhard Basedow. Mit einem Vorworte von Max von Boehn. Voigtländer-Tetzner, Frankfurt am
Main 1922. (self scanned from book) Original artist: Daniel Chodowiecki
• File:Commons-logo.svg Source: License: CC-BY-SA-3.0 Contribu-
tors: ? Original artist: ?
• File:Design_portal_logo.jpg Source: License: CC BY-
SA 2.5 Contributors: Transferred from en.wikinews to Commons. (transferred to commons by Microchip08) Original artist: Alainr345
• File:FDM_by_Zureks.png Source: License: GFDL Con-
tributors: Own work Original artist: Zureks
• File:First_replication.jpg Source: License: CC-BY-SA-3.0
Contributors: ? Original artist: ?
• File:Folder_Hexagonal_Icon.svg Source: License: Cc-by-
sa-3.0 Contributors: ? Original artist: ?
• File:Guardians_of_Time_sculpture_Manfred_Kielnhofer_3d_printing.JPG Source:
commons/4/4e/Guardians_of_Time_sculpture_Manfred_Kielnhofer_3d_printing.JPG License: CC BY-SA 3.0 Contributors: Own work
Original artist: Kronberger4
• File:Hyperboloid_Print.ogv Source: License: CC BY
3.0 Contributors:
Original artist: Video: OhmEye. Object file: MaskedRetriever
• File:I_robot_car.jpg Source: License: CC BY 2.0 Contributors:
Flickr Original artist: Eirik Newth
• File:MakerBot_ThingOMatic_Bre_Pettis.jpg Source:
ThingOMatic_Bre_Pettis.jpg License: CC BY 2.0 Contributors: Flickr, specific image page URL:
bre/3458247336/ Original artist: Bre Pettis
• File:Miniature_human_face_models_made_through_3D_Printing_(Rapid_Prototyping).jpg Source: https://upload.wikimedia.
org/wikipedia/commons/3/35/Miniature_human_face_models_made_through_3D_Printing_%28Rapid_Prototyping%29.jpg License:
CC BY-SA 3.0 Contributors: Own work Original artist: S zillayali
• File:Office-book.svg Source: License: Public domain Contribu-
tors: This and myself. Original artist: Chris Down/Tango project
• File:RepRap_'Mendel'.jpg Source: License: CC
BY-SA 3.0 Contributors: - video from open-source RepRap project Original artist: CharlesC
• File:Robot_3D_print_timelapse_on_RepRapPro_Fisher.webm Source:
Robot_3D_print_timelapse_on_RepRapPro_Fisher.webm License: CC BY 2.5 Contributors:
r5nDrae3gJg Original artist: RepRapPro
• File:Stereolithography_apparatus.jpg Source:
jpg License: CC BY-SA 3.0 Contributors: Own work Original artist: Materialgeeza
• File:Symbol_list_class.svg Source: License: Public domain Con-
tributors: ? Original artist: ?

• File:Ted_Noten_Fashionista_in_green_2009.jpg Source:

Fashionista_in_green_2009.jpg License: Attribution Contributors: General Press Kit 'Atelier Ted Noten' from Utrecht, Netherlands based
press studio Organisation in Design. Original artist: Photography: Atelier Ted Noten / Artwork: Atelier Ted Noten
• File:Wiki_letter_w_cropped.svg Source: License:
CC-BY-SA-3.0 Contributors: This file was derived from Wiki letter w.svg: <a href='//
Wiki_letter_w.svg' class='image'><img alt='Wiki letter w.svg' src='
letter_w.svg/50px-Wiki_letter_w.svg.png' width='50' height='50' srcset='
Wiki_letter_w.svg/75px-Wiki_letter_w.svg.png 1.5x,
100px-Wiki_letter_w.svg.png 2x' data-file-width='44' data-file-height='44' /></a>
Original artist: Derivative work by Thumperward
• File:Wiktionary-logo-v2.svg Source: License: CC BY-
SA 4.0 Contributors: Own work Original artist: Dan Polansky based on work currently attributed to Wikimedia Foundation but originally
created by Smurrayinchester

14.3 Content license

• Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0