3D Printing

AAA

DEFINITION of '3D Printing'

The creation of a 3-D object through an additive printing process. 3-D printing allows the small scale manufacturing of objects out of a variety of materials, including plastics and powders, through a variety of processes. The additive processes used vary according to materials used and budget, and may include laminates (laminated object manufacturing, LOM), resins (stereolithography, SLA), or melted materials (selective laser melting).

INVESTOPEDIA EXPLAINS '3D Printing'

In 3-D printing the object details, such as its shape and structure, are outlined using computer aided design (CAD) software or a digital scanning device. The details are stored in a computer, which determines how the 3-D printer will create the desired object.

Printing an object using a 3-D printer is different than printing a word document. The 3-D printer follows an additive process, meaning that the print nozzle lays down successive layers of a material, such as plastic or powder. The layers are built up until the object is complete, though further finishing may be required in order to add details or remove imperfections.

The amount of time it takes to print an object depends on its size and complexity. Objects constructed using thin layers will likely take longer to produce, though may provide greater detail than objects constructed of thicker layers. Layer thickness and the size of material particles is typically measured in micrometers.

As a technology, 3-D printing has been lauded for its ability to give small scale manufacturers the ability to create prototypes of new products quickly and cheaply, especially when compared to older manufacturing processes. Because it follows an additive process, 3-D printing could be used to create complicated objects, such as those with holes or curves. While objects can be highly customized, the slow speed at which 3-D printed objects are created makes it difficult to create objects through mass production.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Mass Production

    The manufacturing of large quantities of standardized products, ...
  2. Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing ...

    A U.S. Government subsidy created under section 136 of the Energy ...
  3. Flexible Manufacturing System - ...

    A method for producing goods that is readily adaptable to changes ...
  4. Bleeding Edge Technology

    Technology that is acquired almost immediately after its release, ...
  5. Manufacturing Production

    The creation and assembly of components and finished products ...
  6. ISM Manufacturing Index

    An index based on surveys of more than 300 manufacturing firms ...
RELATED FAQS
  1. What are key factors that are generally considered in demographic studies conducted ...

    Key demographic factors that a company might examine to assess a potential market and more effectively target potential customers ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. How does an investor compute a Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate of Sales for an automotive ...

    The seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales (SAAR) for an automotive company can be calculated by taking the unadjusted ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How might a company use demographics to assess the size of a potential market?

    Demographics can be used to help a company determine key characteristics of the potential population to which it company ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What is the difference between a silent partner and a general partner?

    Business structures provide benefits to business owners and entrepreneurs. In the small business arena, the most common business ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What are the pros and cons of a business temporarily closing once a shutdown point ...

    The first and primary benefit of a business stopping operations after crossing a shutdown point is that it won't run the ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What type of funding options are available to a private company?

    Similar to public companies, private companies also need funding for various reasons. A business typically needs the greatest ... Read Full Answer >>
Related Articles
  1. Investing News

    Bitcoin Innovations And Obstacles

    Investopedia explains the development of the Bitcoin digital currency system and the risks associated with using and investing in it.
  2. Personal Finance

    How Technology Is Replacing Workers

    Technology and robotics have advanced so much in the last few decades that human workers are now starting to be replaced in some jobs.
  3. Investing Basics

    A Primer On Investing In The Tech Industry

    The tech sector can provide fantastic returns for investors with a little know-how in the field.
  4. Entrepreneurship

    Management Advice From Megalomaniacs, Villains and Innovators

    These historical figures were succesful managers. Here is how you can implement the same tactics they used - good and bad.
  5. Personal Finance

    Technology And The Death Of Print Media

    Online news and e-readers are rapidly supplanting the print industry. Find out how.
  6. Personal Finance

    How Consumer Attitudes Affect Tech Products

    These tech products are going extinct because of lack of interest, new products and a shift in consumer needs.
  7. Personal Finance

    Steve Jobs: Legacy Of A Tech Guru

    We look at the legacy of Steve Jobs and how his financial success and tech innovation helped shape the world.
  8. Entrepreneurship

    From The Printing Press To The Internet

    Find out how this invention contributed to the development and evolution of the U.S. economy.
  9. Options & Futures

    Henry Ford: Industry Mogul And Industrial Innovator

    This man made his dream of bringing the automobile to the masses a reality.
  10. Active Trading

    Which Is Better: Dominance Or Innovation?

    Find out how to assess and evaluate both these values in the market and your portfolio.

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Multicurrency Note Facility

    A credit facility that finances short- to medium-term Euro notes. Multicurrency note facilities are denominated in many currencies. ...
  2. National Currency

    The currency or legal tender issued by a nation's central bank or monetary authority. The national currency of a nation is ...
  3. Treasury Yield

    The return on investment, expressed as a percentage, on the debt obligations of the U.S. government. Treasuries are considered ...
  4. Bund

    A bond issued by Germany's federal government, or the German word for "bond." Bunds are the German equivalent of U.S. Treasury ...
  5. European Central Bank - ECB

    The central bank responsible for the monetary system of the European Union (EU) and the euro currency. The bank was formed ...
  6. Quantitative Easing

    An unconventional monetary policy in which a central bank purchases private sector financial assets in order to lower interest ...
Trading Center
×

You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!