Tech Trend: 3D Printing

Photo courtesy of Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy Poirrier https://flic.kr/p/kvjYDJ
Photo credit: Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy Poirrier https://flic.kr/p/kvjYDJ

3D printing is taking the technology world by storm.  This new trend has been gathering attention with some of the outrageous items that can be printed, from cookies (or pancakes as shown above) to cars!  But do you know the story behind this new technology?

3D printing, or additive manufacturing, is the process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file. In an additive process, an object is created by laying down successive layers of material until the entire object is created. Objects can be made from a vast array of materials including plastic, metal, ceramics, powders, liquids or even living cells.

By Jonathan Juursema (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Jonathan Juursema (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Although considered an up-and-coming technology, 3D printing was actually invented by Charles Hull in the early 1980s.  It was originally called stereolithography.  Mr. Hull was working for a company that used a process to protect tabletops and furniture with very thin layers of veneer, using UV light.  He had an idea that if he could place thousands of thin layers of plastic on top of each other and then etch their shape using light, he would be able to form three dimensional objects. He spent a year working on his idea after hours and patented it in 1986.  The first commercial product came out in 1988.  At the time, Hull predicted that it would take 25 to 30 years for this technology to be used at home.  He was right!  This process has been used by the manufacturing industry for decades, primarily to produce product prototypes.  Like most new electronic equipment, over time the processes have improved, the machines have gotten smaller and the technology is now opened up to the masses.

Future trends for 3D printing have significant implications across all academic fields, including medicine. Recently published reviews describe the use of 3D printing to produce bones, ears, exoskeletons, windpipes, a jaw bone, eyeglasses, cell cultures, stem cells, blood vessels, vascular networks, tissues, and organs, as well as novel dosage forms and drug delivery devices. While the most advanced and anticipated 3D printing application, the bioprinting of complex organs, is still in its infancy, the medical advances that have been made using 3D printing are already significant and exciting!  This video will help to demonstrate some of the medical advances using 3D printed solutions.

Check out the ebooks that Touro Libraries has available for you to learn more about this new technology!

3D Printing for Dummies – ebook

Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing

References/Further Readings:

3D Printing in Medicine:

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/11/24/print-thyself

History of 3D Printing in a Nutshell

http://3dprinting.com/what-is-3d-printing/

Chuck Hull: the father of 3D printing who shaped technology

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/jun/22/chuck-hull-father-3d-printing-shaped-technology

Contributed by Kimberly Flood, Library Assistant, Bay Shore.

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