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. Why does Warren Buffett largely avoid investing in the technology sector?

    Warren Buffett has often said that he avoids investing in the technology sector because he does not like to own stocks in ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What steps are necessary for a business to secure equity financing?

    An equity financing arrangement creates a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship between investors and a startup or ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What should be included in a restaurant business model?

    The most important elements of a restaurant business model include the restaurant's unique value proposition, menu choices, ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What do you need to know to create a business model?

    A business model lays out the idea for a business, along with the step-by-step plan for making the business profitable. To ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Why doesn't Warren Buffett own Apple (AAPL) stock?

    Warren Buffet claims he simply does not know how to properly evaluate Apple (AAPL) and does not feel confident in his reading ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What's the difference between a financial plan and a financial forecast?

    Selecting the appropriate business structure for a new company can present challenges to an entrepreneur. Considerations ... 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. Active Trading

    Which Is Better: Dominance Or Innovation?

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

    Henry Ford: Industry Mogul And Industrial Innovator

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

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Covered Call

    An options strategy whereby an investor holds a long position in an asset and writes (sells) call options on that same asset ...
  2. Butterfly Spread

    A neutral option strategy combining bull and bear spreads. Butterfly spreads use four option contracts with the same expiration ...
  3. Unlevered Beta

    A type of metric that compares the risk of an unlevered company to the risk of the market. The unlevered beta is the beta ...
  4. Moving Average - MA

    A widely used indicator in technical analysis that helps smooth out price action by filtering out the “noise” from random ...
  5. Yield Curve

    A line that plots the interest rates, at a set point in time, of bonds having equal credit quality, but differing maturity ...
  6. Productivity

    An economic measure of output per unit of input. Inputs include labor and capital, while output is typically measured in ...
Trading Center