3D printing

Topics: Printing, Rapid prototyping, Rapid manufacturing Pages: 11 (3419 words) Published: November 1, 2013

Question #1:
Distribute to the class on the week before presentation a tutorial handout defining the technology and describing its nature, i.e., answers to the classic “who, what, when, where, why, and how” questions. Include a timeline of the key events as you see them. During the oral, use only 1 or 2 slides to review this material.

See Appendix A.

Question #2:
What is the initial problem (ex., the market demand) which the technology needs to address? What is the current technology(ies) used to solve or lessen the problem? How well or poorly dies the current technology(ies) deal with the problem?

The introduction of 3D printing in the mid-1980s was a tremendous leap forward in the area of product prototyping. Prior to the introduction of 3D printing techniques, product manufacturers often spent significant time developing prototypes for various types of pre-production testing. Early in the industrial revolution, prototyping often meant building a single full-size, fully functional product instantiation. For instance, John Fitch made a 45-foot prototype steamboat which was tested on August 22, 1787 {{307 Anonymous 2011}}. It was only after a test of this design on the Delaware River that Fitch launched into commercial production {{307 Anonymous 2011}}. It is important to note that despite the substantial time and money Fitch invested in his prototype, its success was not enough to ensure the success of his business venture. Robert Fulton was the first person to develop a commercially viable steamboat design {{307 Anonymous 2011}}. Henry Ford undertook the development of a similar fully functional prototype of his horseless carriage in 1896 before creating the Detroit Automobile Company in 1899 {{310 Hillstrom, K. 2006}}. As manufacturing processes matured, prototyping techniques have matured as well. Automotive manufacturers, for example, often test various aspects of their products separately before investing in the production of a fully functional prototype. For instance, the metallurgical properties of the steel used in the proposed design may be considered independently of the body design. The latter is often assessed using clay models developed by sculptors. While such models provide a good means of evaluating aerodynamics as well as the aesthetic appeal of a design, the prototyping process is slow and lacks precise repeatability. More recently, Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machining has been used to build both models of overall car designs as well as individual components {{308 Anonymous 2009}}. While introducing repeatability and precision to the prototyping process, CNC processes can be wasteful as they machine a component out of a block of material using various drills, saws, and blades. Alternatively, the additive manufacturing process of 3D printing significantly reduces waste {{299 Anonymous 2011}}. In addition to waste, CNC machining can often take a significant amount of time whereas 3D printing is comparatively fast. Automotive manufacturers have begun to recognize these advantages over previous prototyping techniques and are beginning to widely employ 3D printing in the development of concept cars {{309 Barry, K. 2011}}. The automotive industry provides only one view of the needs which the introduction of 3D printing technology attempts to address. By providing speed, precision, repeatability, and efficiency, 3D printing offers tremendous benefits to those building and testing prototype designs across the various manufacturing industries.

Question #3:
Recalling James Burke, what causation factors can you identify? Explain.

The introduction of 3D printing was the result of the personal ambition of Charles “Chuck” Hull. Hull invented the technology that supports 3D printing in 1984 {{306 Anonymous 2011}}. In 1986 Hull patented the process of 3D printing (Stereolithography) which he defined as “a method and apparatus for making solid...
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