We recognize it by the name of 3D printing, but this process is also known as additive manufacturing. Whichever name you choose to call it, this particular type of process creates three dimensional objects from a digital model. These creations are made by using additive processes where the object is created by laying down continual layers of material.

We have talked a lot about 3D printing and the many, many ways that this technology can and has been used. Well, today, we want to get down to the basics and share with you five things you might not have known about 3D printing.

Check out these five fun facts about 3D printing:

The beginning- Though it seems like a fairly new concept, 3D printing has been around since 1983 when Charles Hull invented stereolithography. This was a process that builds objects one layer at a time and was used by many industries to rapidly develop prototypes and other unique designs. Rather than sending out a job, through this invention, companies were given the opportunity to save time and money by doing projects on their own, no matter how complex the model was… all thanks to 3D printing.

Going green- This refined manufacturing process is slowly, but surely replacing the old system where drilling, cutting and filing were all part of the manufacturing equation that would leave a giant mess of leftover scrap material. Now, with 3D printing, it’s an additive process where you build up and not out from the base material.

Lots of possibilities- As we see it now, the possibilities of 3D printing seem to be endless, because this process can create objects out of a range of materials from synthetic stone and ceramics to edible materials like ice cream and chocolate! It’s even been said that some are trying their hand at working with metal by laying down fine layers of aluminum or stainless steel and then using a laser beam to “glue” the layers together. But, the list doesn’t stop there. In fact, we have seen 3D printing being used in the fashion industry, the airline industry and, not to mention, in medicine as well.

It looks familiar- Though 3D printing seems like a much more technologically advanced process, which in some cases it is; it’s actually a lot like the everyday inkjet printer. This familiar process came to be in 2013 when a new method of 3D printing, known as material extrusion, was introduced. Through this newer method, the 3D printer builds up an object out of matter and is then pushed from a mechanical head. Sound familiar? That process resembles the process that an inkjet uses to produce text on a page by pushing ink onto a piece of paper.

Out of this world- Researchers at Washington State University have teamed up with NASA to work on 3D printing using a new material, moon dust! This new project could lead to on-site fabrication of a moon-base that is constructed of local materials.

Though these were only five fun facts about how 3D printing has been used and can be used, the opportunities associated with 3D printing continue to grow and evolve and only time will tell what this great invention will create next!

Copyright Inventionland, 2014