3D Printing In Design
3D printing is becoming more popular as it opens so many possibilities in terms of not only design but also medical innovation and progress. 3D printers are used to print various objects from vases to dresses to human ears and skull implants, and the technology certainly raises questions and entails consequences, which we would like to address in this article.
3D Printing Technology
Formlabs 3D printer crowdfunded through Kickstarter
What Is 3D Printing?
3D printing is a process where an object is created with the help of a 3D printer, using a digital blueprint. The 3D printers are devices that include a build tray onto which the object is printed. They come in different sizes. For instance, there is one from Formlabs that can fit on a desk and there is a full-scale 3D printer by Objet and, of course, there are models of sizes in between.
To create an object a digital blueprint of a design should be created using computer software like CAD. Once it’s done the design can be printed out of plastic or rubber in a powder or liquid form. Using layering technique the 3D printer creates a three-dimensional object from the original digital design.
3D Printing Terminology
3D Printing is also known as additive manufacturing, a process of creating an object out of digital design.
SLS – Selective laser sintering. This is a technique that uses laser to create layers from the material and fuse them together to achieve a desired three-dimensional object.
CAD software. CAD stands for computer-aided design, which is essentially a use of computer in creating a design.
Uses In Design & Architecture
The use of 3D printing technology is only natural in spheres like design. Some smaller objects like vases and various containers have already been created using 3D printers. But there are bigger projects coming like 3D-printed houses planned by studios Universe Architecture, Softkill Design, and DUS Architects.
Designer Matthew Plummer-Fernandez created a collection of 3D-printed vessels the designs of which he obtained by scanning and distorting common objects like a toy and a watering can. Design studio Unfold created several designs of vases and bowls and sent them to different producers around the world to see how the same designs will differ when printed on different 3D printers and in different materials.
by Matthew Plummer-Fernandez
As the technology pushes forward, the possibility of printing such products like cars becomes more real. US manufacturer RedEye On Demand is set to launch a three-wheeled car, Urbee in two years. Made of 40 thermoplastic parts the car is designed to run on biofuel.
3D Printing and Copyright Law
The copyright law is always an issue whenever you look, but with an easy access to 3D printers it will become even harder for designers and companies to protect their intellectual property – designs – as almost anyone could print the same object instead of buying it from the original manufacturer.
Regulations may not be as hard to draw as they would be hard to enforce. Experts say that the copyright aspect of 3D printing is a complicated issue which will soon need an effective solution. Some of the experts offer to borrow ideas of copyrighting from the music industry.
Economic aspect of 3D printing is quite interesting as well. With the technology becoming more and more accessible to the public, some experts insist that printing products at home will be possible quite soon and that it is even cheaper than buying same products. A 3D printer cost starts at around $500-$800 making it affordable for many people. But will the technology take on domestic level is not yet clear as far as the copyright law is concerned.
Safety & 3D Printing
When it comes to grand-scale projects like 3D printing of cars the question of safety is being raised. How to regulate homemade products like cars in terms of insurance and safety? Who gets the blame for technological faults?
3D printing is quite new but it’s already achieved so much. I truly hope that the technology progresses despite legal challenges and will advance such vital spheres as medicine but will also provide the designers with additional tools for realizing their projects.
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