3D printing is being used heavily in the realms of industrial prototyping and engineering. Industrial grade machines can be gigantic, and printers are sometimes packaged together in a farm format. These machines can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $50,000 and up. These machines produce parts and prototypes for engineering, automotive, medical, and other industrial applications.
3D printers are also going in the other direction. Much like the personal computers of the past, they are growing smaller, more user friendly, and affordable. Once the realm of industry, then of hobbyists, many printers are now making their way into the average home. These machines cannot offer everything the industrial printers can, but they are still powerful machines and can often be customized. Desktop printers typically run anywhere between $200 and $2,500. They're usually small enough to fit on a desktop or to run comfortably in a garage.
Uses melted, liquid, or semi-liquid material built layer by layer to create an object.
3D objects are ‘sliced’ using specialized software and fed to the printer as X/Y/Z coordinates that tell the printer how to build the object.
Considered a disruptive technology, allowing people to design and create their own objects and parts.
Lowering prices are bringing 3D printers into homes and small businesses.
Businesses from aerospace to medicine are finding new and interesting ways to leverage the technology.
3D printing uses various different types of materials to create objects with. Usually these are referred to as filament when the material is solid. Liquid resin and other materials are also commonly used.