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3d Printing Feasibility Report

By:   •  December 5, 2015  •  Research Paper  •  2,634 Words (11 Pages)  •  1,881 Views

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3D Printing

A Feasibility Report

Prepared for:

X

Prepared by:

X

5 December 2014

MEMORANDUM

24 October 2014

TO:                

FROM:        

Subject:        3D Printing - Individual Feasibility Report

Topic Relevance

  • 3D printing is a revolutionary technology that is slowly creeping its way into every industry, especially computer science and engineering.  It will eventually allow households the ability to print a new organ, or it will allow an engineer to custom-build a product around their needs and environment.  This innovation definitely presents many beneficial opportunities, but it also has a lot of pitfalls.  If it’s not used for its purpose (like most things in life) then what are the negative consequences that can arise?  It can drastically decrease the amount of time an engineer needs to develop a custom product, but it could also allow a twelve year-old boy the ability to create an army knife.  It is a question of who is more impacted by this: productive workers, gun-slinging hoodlums, or the society that falls in between?

Prospective Thesis Statement

  • As history has taught us, everything consists of a lifecycle.  Technology advancement has rapidly increased since the mass production of Model-T Fords in 1908 but has slowly begun to decline in recent years.  3D printing is believed to be the next Model-T.  I personally agree with critics in believing that this invention can completely transform the way we live our lives, both domestically and globally.  The abilities are endless and the potential to invent the impossible is more apparent now than ever.  I think this is a very feasible technology in our society, but all good shows signs of evil.  With that said, it’s hard to extrapolate on whether the pros outweigh the cons.  After further research is conducted, I will provide a more informed and less-biased opinion on whether 3D printing will be feasible for consumers and the legal requirements that surround it.

Summary of Main Points (Rough Draft)

  • Intellectual Property - The 3D printing movement has been released on an open-source platform, allowing anyone with a computer and printer the ability to create whatever they would like.  As the technology becomes more complex and demand driven, businesses and consumers alike will need to begin investing into patents for their designs and ideas.  This will completely revolutionize the laws and statutes surrounding the Copyright Infringement policies.
  • Regulation - 3D printers make it possible for people to produce dangerous items, such as guns, in their homes.  There will have to be regulations placed on such designs, and those regulations will vary from state to state.
  • Standards - Companies who plan on using 3D printing need to develop certain standards to avoid litigation.  For instance, if a steel mill uses 3D printing to manufacture sharp bolts, then they must develop safety standards to protect their workers and buyers
  • Materials - 3D printers require suitable materials to build rich, intensive products.  This will definitely open a market for new innovations but also a market for suppliers of such raw materials
  • Infrastructure - This technology will completely change the United States infrastructure, both digitally and physically.  Government will need to play a key role in maintaining the effective (and safe) use of this technology, while also unlocking all of its true potentials in fields such as biomedical, medicine, computer science, engineering, etc..

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Executive Summary……….………………………………………………….….....        1
  2. Introduction…………………………………………………………………….…...        2
  1. Background Information.…………………………………….…….............        2
  2. 3D Printing Process…………………………………………………..…….        2
  1. Discussion…………………………………………………………………………..        3
  1. Methods and Technologies………………………………………………....        3
  2. Marketplace and Societal Development.…………………………………...        4
  3. Cautions and Considerations......……………………………………………        5
  1. Conclusion………………………………………………………………………….        7
  2. Works Cited………………………………………………………………………...        8

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

        3D Printing is a rather recent technology which has emerged into the consumer market for manufacturing a large array of commodities.  Large corporations and even residential households are beginning to incorporate 3D printing into many of the simple day-to-day functions which were previously thought to have been mastered.  With the careful selection of a particular 3D printing process, knowledge of its future development, and an understanding of the possible dangers, this technology will be a feasible consideration for any organization looking to expand their product portfolio.  Information on these areas is discussed in greater detail throughout this report.


INTRODUCTION

Background Information

        Three-dimensional (3D) printing was first invented in 1984 by Charles Hull, inductee of the National Inventors Hall of Fame in early 2014.  Initially, this technology was extremely expensive and impractical for general use; however, in recent years the availability of 3D printers and their required printing materials have increased and resulted in considerable price reductions.  This expansion of suppliers has opened a rapidly growing market for 3D printing applications, both private and commercial.

3D Printing Process

        3D printing begins by creating the virtual design of an object.  This design is constructed using a 3D modeling program which generates a CAD (Computer Aided Design).  Once the CAD file is formatted, the creator can then upload the data to any 3D printer and begin producing an extremely precise physical model of the design using metal, plastic, wax, ceramics or other types of material.  In addition to personally creating a new object design, there are also 3D scanners available for those looking to replicate an existing object.  These scanners automatically generate a 3D digital copy of the object and allow designers the ability to quickly make modifications and also scale the object to any size permitted by the equipment.

        The process of creating these virtual designs is very similar to dissecting a Post-it®

 notepad into thousands of horizontal sheets, or layers.  The 3D modeling program focuses on one miniscule layer at a time and begins printing the object vertically. It does this for every single layer until the entire object is fully blended and assembled.  The layers are so diminutive that they are completely unnoticeable to the human eye, leaving very little room for human error.

DISCUSSION

Methods and Technologies

        3D printing can be accomplished using a variety of technologies which have emerged increasingly over the past thirty years.  The most prominent printing methods today are termed selective laser sintering (SLS), fused deposition modeling (FDM), and stereolithography (SLA).  These technologies differ primarily in the materials used and the process needed to shape those materials.  For instance, selective laser sintering uses a high-powered laser to melt tiny fragments of powder into a solid mass which eventually forms the desired shape.  Fused deposition modeling substitutes the powerful laser for a plastic filament or metal wire which is used to fuse the powered material from an expulsion nozzle that is manually controlled by the operator.  Lastly, stereolithography printing requires a container of liquid photopolymer resin material which is molded by an ultraviolet laser.  

        The hardware on all of these systems is relatively similar in comparison, but the materials necessary for the various printing technologies vary greatly in composition.  These materials can cause severe complications for some manufacturing firms that have considered adopting 3D printing.  The Big Innovation Centre, a technology conglomerate in the United Kingdom, is one example of why particular industries are currently unwilling to adopt this methodology of manufacturing.  During one of their press conferences, spokesman Andrew Sissons explained, “one of its central ingredients is oil, a non-renewable resource that contributes to man-made environmental concerns” (28).  This is a very pragmatic concern for socially responsible companies that vow to minimizing damages to the environment.  Thus, this technology would not be feasible for these enterprises at this point of time, and will most likely remain that way until all of the mandatory elements are revolutionized towards a greener production system.

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