Sign & Digital Graphics

November '15

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40 • November 2015 • S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S DIGITAL PRINTING AND FINISHING DIGITAL GRAPHICS being printed. Unused powder is recy- cled for the next print job (see Figure 4). The 3D Printing Outlook The outlook for 3D printing over the next few years can only be described with one word and an exclamation point– GROWTH! Like inkjet printing in the 1990s, it has crept into our daily lives and changed the way we work. The world- wide 3D printing industry's revenue in 2013 was $3.07 billion. By 2020 it's expected to exceed $21billion (according to Wohlers Report 2014). 3D printing will ultimately affect every major manu- facturing industry. Medical Patients are already benefitting from the development of 3D printed implants like artificial valves and kidneys. Prosthetics too are being printed with 3D technology, which assures comfort, enhanced mobility and durability (see Figure 5). 3D bio printing of human tissue has been around since the early part of the 21st century. Living cells are deposited onto a nutrient rich medium and slowly built into three-dimensional tissue struc- tures. As the technology evolves, sci- entists may ultimately be able to print entire human organs. Talk about science fiction realized! Aerospace and Aviation The development of metal additive manufacturing is responsible for the adoption of 3D printing in the aero- space and aviation industries. NASA, for example, prints combustion chamber liners using selective laser melting. The latest big news is that in April 2015 the FAA cleared the first 3D component to fly in a commercial airliner—a housing for a compressor inlet temperature sensor on a Boeing 777 aircraft (see Figure 6). Automotive The automotive industry was among the earliest to use 3D printing for low- volume prototyping. Nowadays, the use of 3D printing in the automotive industry is rapidly evolving. An explosion in uti- lization of 3D printing from automotive manufacturers is powering a revolution in automobile design and production. It is conceivable that in the future an entire vehicle may one day be produced by 3D printing technology. Industrial Printing 3D printing has been around for a few decades. For years manufacturers have been using it to create prototypes. The industry parlance for 3D printing a pro- totype is called rapid prototyping. The advantage of rapid prototyping is obvious in the savings of time and money. A fast 3D printer can be obtained for tens of thousands of dollars and end up saving the company many times that amount of money in the prototyping process. At one time, for example, Nike spent thousands of dollars on a single proto- type of a shoe and had to wait weeks to see it developed. Now, the cost of a single prototype is within the hundreds of dol- lars. Furthermore, design changes can be achieved instantly on the computer and the prototype immediately reprinted. Besides rapid prototyping, 3 D print- Figure 4: Powder Bed Fusion Selective Laser Sintering uses a high- powered laser to fuse small particles of plas- tic, metal, ceramic or glass powders layer by layer into a 3D object. (See video here: www.youtube.com/ watch?v=kBHsfNDsbCs) Figure 5: A prosthetic leg printed with a 3D printer.

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