Over the last few decades, it has been making waves in many industries around the world. This describes the creation of an object by adding material to the object layer by layer. Throughout its history, additive manufacturing has gone by various names, inlcuding stereolithography, 3D layering, and 3D printing, but 3D printing is the best-known. So how do 3D printers work? The process of 3D printing begins by making a graphic model of the object to be printed.
Mass-produced sneakers and car parts are about to roll off assembly lines at Nike and BMW -- 3-D printer assembly lines. Hewlett Packard on Tuesday announced the world's first 3-D printer for large-scale manufacturing. Nine companies, including Nike, BMW and Johnson & Johnson, are using the HP Jet Fusion 3D Printing Solution, says Stephen Nigro, who runs HP's 3-D printing business. He announced the news at the RAPID tech conference in Orlando today. "We want to change the way the world prints parts," says Nigro, who previously ran HP's 20 billion print division.
When you think about 3-D printing, chances are you think of little plastic doodads created by desktop devices like those made by MakerBot. Computing and printer giant HP wants you to think about metal. Today the company announced the Metal Jet printer, an industrial-scale 3-D printer that builds items not of plastic but of steel. HP is trying to change that. In 2016, it launched its Jet Fusion plastic 3-D printer, designed for mass production rather than one-off printing.
Ever since I was a boy, I was fascinated by the idea of miniaturization. I read Isaac Asimov's Fantastic Voyage and then, when I finally got my hands on the movie, I probably watched it a dozen times. The premise was that a team of scientists were miniaturized to the point where they could be injected into a person and perform surgery from the inside. Another movie with a similar premise was InnerSpace, starring the incredibly well-matched team of Martin Short and Dennis Quaid. There was the whole Honey, I Shrunk the Kids series of movies and TV shows, and I ate them up as well.
It's less than two months before his company's initial product launch, and CEO Ric Fulop is excitedly showing off rows of stripped-down 3-D printers, several bulky microwave furnaces, and assorted small metal objects on a table for display. Behind a closed door, a team of industrial designers sit around a shared work desk, each facing a large screen. The wall behind them is papered with various possible looks for the startup's ambitious products: 3-D printers that can fabricate metal parts cheaply and quickly enough to make the technology practical for widespread use in product design and manufacturing. The company, Desktop Metal, has raised nearly $100 million from leading venture capital firms and the venture units of such companies as General Electric, BMW, and Alphabet. The founders include four prominent MIT professors, including the head of the school's department of materials science and Emanuel Sachs, who filed one of the original patents on 3-D printing in 1989.