The Technology of 3D Printing


3D printing or “additive manufacturing” – the process of creating three-dimensional solid objects of virtually any shape based on a digital model. 3D printing is based on the concept of building the object sequentially applied layers showing the contours of the model. In fact, 3D printing is the antithesis of such traditional methods of mechanical production and processing, such as milling or cutting, where the shape of the product is due to the removal of excess material (the so-called “subtractive manufacturing”).

3D printers are called CNC machining centers that builds parts additively way.Although the 3D printing technology appeared in the 80s of the last century, widespread commercial adoption of 3D printers was only in early 2010. the First capable 3D printer was created by Charles hull, one of the founders of the Corporation 3D Systems. In the early 21st century saw a significant increase in sales, which led to a sharp drop in the cost of devices. According to consulting firm Wohlers Associates, in 2012, the global market for 3D printers and related services reached $2.2 billion, showing an increase of 29% compared to 2011.

3D printing technology is used for prototyping and distributed manufacturing in architecture, construction, industrial design, automotive, aerospace, military, industrial, engineering and medical industries, bio-engineering (to create artificial tissues), the production of fashion apparel and shoes, jewelry, education, geographic information systems, food industry and many other areas. According to research, home 3D printers, open source will allow to win back the capital cost of its own acquisition through cost-effectiveness of home produced items.


The Term “additive manufacturing” means technologies that create objects by applying successive layers of material. Models built by additive method, may be used at any production stage for prototype production (i.e. rapid prototyping) and quality of the finished products (the so-called rapid manufacturing).

In manufacturing, especially machining, the term “subtractive” implies more traditional methods and is retronyms invented in recent years to distinguish traditional methods and new additive methods. While traditional manufacturing uses essentially “additive” methods for centuries (such as riveting, welding and screwing), they lack three-dimensional information technological component. Machine handling (production parts precise shapes), usually based on subtractive methods – filing, milling, drilling and grinding.

The term “stereolithography” was defined by Charles hull in the patent of 1984 as a “system for generating three-dimensional objects by layering”.

Basic principles

3D models are created by hand or using computer graphic design or due to 3D scanning. Manual modeling, or preparing geometric data for creating three-dimensional computer graphics, somewhat reminiscent of the sculpture. 3D scanning is the automatic collection and analysis of data of the real object, namely shape, color and other characteristics, is converted to a digital three dimensional model.

Manual and automatic creation of 3D-printed models can cause difficulties for the average user. In this regard, in recent years has been the spread of 3D printing marketplaces. Among the popular examples are services such as Shapeways, Thingiverseand Threeding.

During printing, the printer reads a 3D printable file (usually in STL format) containing the data a three-dimensional model, and causes successive layers of liquid, powder, paper or sheet material, building a three-dimensional model from a series of cross-sections. These layers corresponding to virtual cross sections in the CAD model, are joined or fused together to create an object of a given shape. The main advantage of this method is the possibility of creating geometrical shapes of almost unlimited complexity.

The resolution of the printer means the thickness of the deposited layers (Z-axis) positioning the print head in the horizontal plane (X and Y). Resolution is measured in DPI (dots per inch) or micrometers (outdated term is “micron”). Typical layer thickness is around 100 µm (250 DPI), although some devices such as Objet Connex and 3D Systems ProJet able to print layers with a thickness of 1 600 DPI. The resolution in X and Y similar to those of conventional two-dimensional laser printers. Typical particle size is about 50-100 µm (510 to 250 DPI) in diameter.

Model building with the use of modern technologies takes from several hours to several days depending on the method used and the size and complexity of the model. Industrial additive systems can typically, reduce the time to a few hours, but it all depends on the type of installation, as well as the size and the number of produced models.

Traditional manufacturing methods like injection molding can be cheaper in the manufacture of large batches of polymer products and additive technologies offer advantages in small-scale production, allowing you to achieve a higher rate of production and design flexibility, along with increased efficiency in terms of per unit of a manufactured product. In addition, the desktop 3D printers allow designers and developers to create conceptual models and prototypes, without leaving the office.


Although the resolution of the printer is sufficient for most projects, print objects with slightly exceeded the measurements and subsequent subtractive machining of high-precision tools, enables you to create models of high accuracy.

Examples of devices with this combined method of manufacture and processing is LUMEX Avance-25.Some methods of additive manufacturing include the ability to use multiple materials or colors within a single production cycle. Many of the 3D printers use the “support” or “supports” during the printing. Support necessary to build parts of the model, not in contact with underlying layers or the working platform. The pillars themselves are not part of the specified model, and once printing is complete or break off (in the case of using the same material to print the model itself), or dissolve (usually in water or acetone, depending on the material used to create the supports).

Printing technology

Since the late 1970s, came to light several methods of 3D printing. The first printers are characterized by their large size, high cost and very limited capabilities.

currently available to a wide variety of methods of additive manufacturing. The main differences lie in the method of coating and used consumables. Some methods are based on melting or softening material to produce layers: this includes selective laser sintering (SLS), selective laser melting (SLM), direct laser sintering of metals (DMLS), layer-by-layer printing method fused deposition modeling (FDM or FFF). Another area was the production of solid models by polymerization of liquid materials, known as stereolithography (SLA).

In the case of laminating sheet materials (LOM), thin layers of material are cut to the required contour, with subsequent coupling into a single unit. As materials for LOM can be used paper, polymers and metals. Each of these methods has its advantages and disadvantages, therefore some companies offer a choice of consumables to build the model polymer, or powder. Printers working on technology LOM, often used normal office paper to build robust prototypes. Key points when choosing a suitable device is the printing speed price of 3D printer, cost of the printed prototype, and cost and range of compatible consumables.

Printers that manufacture full metal models have a high cost, but it is possible to use less expensive devices for the production of molds followed by casting of metal parts.

The main methods of additive manufacturing are presented in the table:

Method Technology The materials used
Extrusion Modeling layer-by-layer fused deposition modeling (FDM or FFF) Thermoplastics (such as polylactic acid (PLA), Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), etc.)
Wire Manufacturing freeform electron beam melting (EBFȝ) Almost any metal alloy
Powder Direct laser sintering of metals (DMLS) Almost any metal alloy
Electron beam melting (EBM) Titanium alloys
Selective laser melting (SLM) Titanium alloys, cobalt-chrome alloys, stainless steel, aluminum
Selective heat sintering (SHS) Powder thermoplastics
Selective laser sintering (SLS) Thermoplastics, metal powders, ceramic powders
Jet Three dimensional inkjet printing(3DP) Plaster, plastics, metal powders, sand mixture
Lamination The manufacturing facilities of a laminating technique (LOM) Paper, metal foil, plastic film
Polymerization Stereolithography (SLA) Photopolymers
Digital light projection (DLP) Photopolymers

Modeling by means of layer-by-layer fused deposition modeling (FDM/FFF) was developed by S. Scott trump in the late 1980s and received commercial distribution in 1990 by the company Stratasys, among the founders of which is listed by trump. In connection with the expiration of the patent, there is a large community of developers of 3D printers, open source, and commercial organizations that use this technology. As a consequence, the cost of the device decreased by two orders of magnitude since the invention of the technology.

the printing Process by the method of layer-by-layer fused deposition modeling involves the creation of layers by extrusion, fast freezing of the material in the form of droplets or thin streams. As a rule, expendable material (e.g., thermoplastic) supplied in coils from which the material is fed to the print head, called the “extruder”. The extruder heats the material to melting temperature, followed by extrusion of the molten mass through a nozzle. The extruder is driven by a step-by-step motors or servo motors ensure positioning of the printing head in three planes. The movement of the extruder is monitored by industrial software (CAM) bound to a microcontroller.

As consumables used various polymers, including Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), polycarbonate (PC), polylactic acid (PLA), high density polyethylene (HDPE), blends of polycarbonate and ABS plastic, polyphenylsulfone (PPSU), etc. typically, the polymer is supplied in the form of filler made of pure plastic. In the community of enthusiasts of 3D printing there are several projects for recycling used plastic into materials for 3D printing. Projects based on the development of consumables with the help of shredders and refiner devices.

FDM/FFF has certain limitations on the complexity of the created geometric shapes. For example, the creation of secondary structures (such as stalactites) is impossible in itself, because of lack of support. This limitation compensate creating temporary support structures to be removed after printing is completed.

Powder printing

One of the methods of additive manufacturing is selective sintering of powder materials. The layers of the model are plotted (baked) in a thin layer of powdered material, after which the working platform is lowered and coated with a new layer of powder. The process is repeated to obtain a solid model. Unused material remains in the working chamber and serves to support the overhanging layers, without requiring the creation of special supports.

The most common are methods based on sintering using laser: selective laser sintering (SLS) for work with metals and polymers (e.g., polyamide (PA) polyamide reinforced with glass fibre (PA-GF), glass fiber (GF), polyetheretherketone (PEEK), polystyrene (PS), aluminum, polyamide reinforced with carbon fiber (Carbonmide), elastomers), and direct laser sintering of metals (DMLS).

, the Method of selective laser sintering (SLS) was developed and patented by Carl Deckard and Joseph Beaman of the University of Texas at Austin in the mid-1080’s under the auspices of the Agency for defense advanced research projects USA (DARPA). A similar method was patented by R. F. Housholder in 1979 but did not receive commercial distribution.

Selective laser melting (SLM) differs that does not sinter, and actually melts the powder from contact with a powerful laser beam, allowing to create materials of high density, similar in terms of the mechanical characteristics of the products made by traditional methods.

Electron beam melting (EBM) is a similar method of additive manufacturing of metal parts (e.g. titanium alloys), but using electron beams instead of lasers. EBM is based on melting metal powders layer by layer in a vacuum chamber. In contrast, sintering at temperatures below thresholds of melting, models built by electron beam melting are monolithic with the corresponding high strength.

Finally, there is a method ink jet 3D printing. In this case, a thin layer of powder (plaster or plastic) is applied to the bonding material in accordance with the contours of the successive layers from a digital model. The process is repeated to obtain the finished model. Technology provides a wide range of applications, including the creation of color patterns, secondary structures, the use of elastomers. Design models can be enhanced by subsequent impregnation with wax or polymers.


Some printers used as a material for building models from paper, thereby reducing the cost of printing. Such devices survived the peak of popularity in the 1990s. the Technology consists in cutting out the layers of the model from paper using a carbon dioxide laser with simultaneous lamination of the circuits for forming the finished product.

In 2005, Mcor Technologies Ltd developed a technology that uses ordinary office paper, the blade is made of tungsten carbide instead of a laser and selective application of the adhesive.

There are also options of the devices performing the laminating of thin metal and plastic sheets.

The photopolymerization

Technology stereolithography was patented by Charles hull in 1986. The photopolymerization is primarily used in stereolithography (SLA) to create solid objects from the liquid materials. This method differs significantly from previous attempts, starting with the sculptural portraits of Francois Willem (1830-1905) and ending with the photopolymerization by the method of Matsubara (1974).

The method of digital projection (DLP) uses liquid photopolymer resin that hardens when exposed to ultraviolet light emitted by the digital projector in the working chamber with a protective coating. After solidification of the material, the working platform is submerged to a depth equal to the thickness of one layer and the liquid polymer is again exposed. The procedure is repeated until the completion of construction of the model. An example of rapid prototyping using digital led light projector is EnvisionTEC Perfactory.

Inkjet printers (for example, Objet PolyJet) spray thin layers (16-30MKM) photopolymer at the working platform to get the whole model. Each layer is irradiated by ultraviolet beam to solidify. The result is a model that is ready for immediate use. The gel-like support material used to support components of geometrically-complex models, is removed after production of a model by hand and by washing. The technology allows the use of elastomers.

Precise details of the models can be achieved via multiphoton polymerization. This method includes drawing the contours of a three-dimensional object from a focused laser beam. Due to the nonlinear photoexcitation the material solidifies only at the points of focus of the laser beam. This method allows you to easily achieve resolutions greater than 100 µm, as well as to build complex structures with moving and interacting parts.

Another popular method is polymerization with led or projectors “projection stereolithography”.

Projection stereolithography

This method involves dividing a three-dimensional digital models into horizontal layers, transforming each layer in a two-dimensional projection, similar to the photomasks. Two-dimensional images are projected onto successive layers of a photopolymer resin that hardens in accordance with the projected contours.

In some systems, the projectors are located at the bottom, thereby leveling the surface of the photopolymer material during vertical movement of the model (in this case, the working platform is coated with layers moves up, rather than sinking into the material) and to reduce the production cycle to minutes instead of hours.

Technology allows you to create a model with layers of several materials with different rates of solidification.

Some commercial models, such as Objet Connex apply the resin via small nozzles.

3D printers

The oldest and most long-lived project in the category of desktop 3D printers is RepRap. The RepRap project is aimed at creating 3D printers free open source software (FOSH) provided under the General public license GNU. Device RepRap can print plastic components from the own designs, which can be used for the construction of clones of the original device. Individual device RepRap successfully used for the production of printed circuit boards and metal parts.

In connection with open access to drawings printers RepRap, many of the projects adopt technical solutions counterparts, thus creating a kind of ecosystem, consisting mostly of freely modifiable devices. Wide availability of designs with open source only contributes to the emergence of variants. On the other hand, there is a significant variation in the level of quality and complexity of the designs, and manufactured on their basis of devices. The rapid development of 3D printers open source leads to an increase in the popularity and education of the public and commercial portals (such as Thingiverse or Cubify), offering various 3D designs printable. In addition, the development of technology contributes to sustainable development of local economies thanks to the use of locally available materials for the production of printers.

The cost of 3D printers is decreasing dramatically, beginning in about 2010: the devices, which cost at that time $20 000, now cost $1,000 or less. Many companies and individual developers are already offering budget kits for the RepRap build cost less than $500. An open source project [email protected] has led to the development of a General purpose printer, capable of printing all that can be squeezed through a nozzle, from chocolate to silicone sealant and chemical reactants.

Printers, is made on the basis of this design is available in the form of Assembly kits 2012 for about $2 000. Some 3D printers, including 3D mUVe and Lumifold, originally designed for maximum affordability – so the device Peachy Printer is designed to cost about $100.

Professional printers, developed through public funding platform Kickstarter, often show excellent results: the device Rapide 3D differ quiet operation and no harmful emissions at a price of $1 499. “3D printing pen” 3D Doodler raised $2.3 million in donations on Kickstarter, with the ex-works price of the device $99. However, a full 3D-printer 3D Doodler is difficult to call.

because of decreasing cost, 3D printers are becoming more attractive for domestic production. In addition, home use of 3D printing technologies can reduce the environmental damage done by industry, by reducing the amounts of consumable materials and cost of energy and fuel for transportation of materials and goods.

Parallel to the establishment of home 3D printing devices is the development of devices for the recycling of household waste in printed materials, the so-called RecycleBot. For example, the business model Filastrucer was designed for processing plastic waste (bottles of shampoo, milk containers) in low-cost consumable material for RepRap printers. Such methods of household waste not only practical, but also have a positive impact on the environment.

Development and customization of 3D printers RepRap, led to the emergence of a new category of semi-professional printers for small businesses. Manufacturers such as Solidoodle, RoBo , and RepRapPro offer packages at a price below $1 000. The typing accuracy of such devices is between industrial and household printers. Recently gaining popularity printers enhanced performance using deltabravo coordinate system, or the so-called “Delta robots”. Some companies offer software to support printers from other companies.


Three-dimensional printing allows you to equalize the cost of production of a single part and mass production, which poses a threat to large-scale economies. The impact of 3D printing can be very similar to the introduction of the manufactory. In the 1450’s, no one could have predicted the consequences of the introduction of the printing press, in 1750 no one took seriously the appearance of the steam engine, and the transistors of the 1950s seemed a curious novelty. But technology continues to develop and, most likely, will have an impact on every scientific and industrial field which it touches.

The earliest use of additive manufacturing can be considered as rapid prototyping, aimed at reducing development time of new parts and devices compared to the earlier subtractive methods (too slow and expensive). Improving technology of additive manufacturing leading to their dissemination in various fields of science and industry. The production of parts that were previously available only through machining, it is now possible through additive methods, and at a better price.

Applications include model making, prototyping, casting, architecture, education, cartography, health care, retail trade etc.

Industrial application:

Rapid prototyping: Industrial 3D printers are used for rapid prototyping and research since the early 1980s. As a rule, it is sufficiently large installation that uses powder metals, sand mixtures, plastics and paper. Such devices are often used by universities and commercial companies.

Advances in rapid prototyping have led to the creation of materials suitable for the production of the final products, which in turn contributed to the development of 3D production ready products as an alternative to traditional methods. One of the advantages of rapid manufacturing is a relatively low cost manufacturing of small batches.

Fast production: rapid manufacturing is a relatively new method, whose possibilities have not yet been fully investigated. However, many experts are inclined to consider rapid manufacturing technology to a new level. One of the most promising areas of rapid prototyping to adapt in a fast production is selective laser sintering (SLS) and direct metal sintering (DMLS).

Mass customization: some companies offer services for custom customize objects using simplified software and then create unique 3D models to order. One of the most popular areas was the housings of cell phones. In particular, Nokia has laid out in open access design of buildings their phones for user customization and 3D printing.

Mass production: current slow print speed of 3D printers limits their use in mass production. To combat this drawback, some FDM the devices are equipped with multiple extruders you can print in different colors, with different polymers and even create multiple models at the same time. In General, this approach improves performance without having to use multiple printers for multiple printing heads have one microcontroller.

Devices with multiple extruders allow you to create multiple identical objects, only one digital model, but at the same time allow the use of different materials and colors. Print speed increases proportionately to the number of printheads. In addition, achieved some energy savings through the use of a common working chamber, often requiring heating. Together, these two factors reduce the cost of the process.

Many of the printers are equipped with double print heads, however, this configuration is used only for printing single models of different colors and materials.

Home and Amateur use

To date, domestic 3D printing is mainly attracts the attention of enthusiasts and hobbyists, while the practical application is rather limited. However, 3D printers are already being used to print working mechanical clocks, gears, woodworking machine, jewelry, etc. web sites associated with home 3D printing, often offer design hooks, door handles, massage tools, etc.

Applied 3D printing and Amateur veterinary science and Zoology in 2013 3D-printed prosthetic helped to raise the duckling, and stylish 3D-printed shell appeal crayfish-the hermits. 3D printers are widely used for home production of jewelry – necklaces, rings, handbags, etc.

An open source project [email protected] is aimed at the development of home printers for General use. The device was tested in research conditions for the use of the latest 3D printing technologies for the production of chemical compounds. The printer can print any material suitable for extrusion from a syringe as liquid or paste. The development is aimed at the possibility of domestic production of medicines and household chemicals in remote areas.

Student project OpenReflex has led to the design of analog SLR cameras suitable for 3D printing production.


3D printing is spreading in the fashion world , designers use the printer for experimentation on the creation of swimsuits, shoes and dresses. Commercial applications include rapid prototyping and 3D printing production of professional sport shoes – Vapor Laser Talon for players and New Balance for athletes.

3D same results for bioprinting

Currently conducting research in the field of 3D printing forces biotechnology companies and academic institutions. The study aims to investigate the possibility of applying jet/drip of 3D printing in tissue engineering to create artificial organs. The technology is based on coating layers of living cells in a gel substrate or sugar matrix, with a gradual layer-by-layer buildup to create three-dimensional structures including vascular systems. The first production system for 3D printing of tissues, based on biomechanoid technology NovoGen was presented in 2009. To describe this research used a number of terms: printing organs, the same results for bioprinting, computer and tissue engineering.

One of the pioneers of 3D printing, research company Organovo conducts laboratory researches and develops the production of functional three-dimensional samples of human tissue for use in medical and therapeutic research. To print the company uses 3D printer NovoGen MMX. Organovo believes that the same results for bioprinting will allow us to accelerate the testing of new medicines before clinical tests, thereby saving time and resources invested in the development of medicines. In the long term, Organovo hopes to adapt the technology of bioprinting to create transplant and use in surgery.

3D printing of implants and medical devices

3D printing used to create implants and devices used in medicine. Successful operations include examples such as the implantation of a titanium pelvic and jaw implants, and a plastic tracheal tires. The most widespread use of 3D printing is expected in the production of hearing AIDS and dentistry. In March 2014, surgeons in Swansea used 3D printing to reconstruct the face of the motorcyclist received serious injuries in a road traffic accident.

3D printing services

Some companies offer services for 3D printing online, available for individual customers and industrial companies. Customer should upload the 3D design to the website, after which the model is printed with the help of industrial plants. The finished product is either delivered to the customer or be self.

Study of new applications

Future application of 3D printing could enable the creation of scientific equipment and open source for use in open labs and other scientific applications, the reconstruction of fossils in paleontology, create duplicates of priceless archaeological artifacts, reconstructing bones and body parts for forensic examination, reconstructing heavily damaged evidence collected from crime scenes. Technology is also being considered for use in construction.

In 2005, academic journals began to publish material on the application possibilities of 3D printing technologies in the arts. In 2007, the Wall Street Journal and Time magazine included 3D design 100 list of the most significant achievements of the year. In the Victoria and albert Museum for the London design festival in 2011 was the exposition of Murray moss called “Industrial revolution 2.0: how the material world newly materialized”, dedicated to 3D printing technologies.

In 2012 a pilot project of the University of Glasgow has shown that 3D printing can be used for the production of chemical compounds, including hitherto unknown. The project was printed vessels for the storage of chemical reagents, which by using the additive was injected “chemical ink” is followed by reaction. The viability of the technology has been proven by the production of new compounds, but the specific practical application in the course of the experiment was not pursued. The Cornell Creative Machines lab has confirmed the possibility of creating food products with 3D hydrocolloid printing. Professor Leroy Cronin of Glasgow University proposed the use of “chemical ink” to print medicines.

The use of 3D scanning allows you to create replicas of real objects without the use of casting methods require high cost, difficult to implement and can have a damaging effect in the case of the precious and fragile cultural heritage.

An additional example of the developed three-dimensional printing technology is the application of additive manufacturing in construction. This would allow to accelerate the pace of construction while reducing cost. In particular, the possibility of using the technology for building space colonies. For example, the Sinterhab project is aimed at study of the possibility of additive manufacturing lunar base using lunar regolith as the main construction material. Instead of using binders, the possibility of microwave sintering of regolith in solid building blocks.

Additive manufacturing allows you to create waveguides, couplers and bends in THz devices. The high geometric complexity of such products could not be achieved with traditional production methods. Commercially available professional installation EDEN 260V was used to create structures with a resolution of 100 microns. Printed structures were galvanized in gold to create a terahertz plasmonic device.

China has allocated nearly $500 million. the development of 10 national institutions on the development of 3D printing technologies. In 2013, Chinese scientists began printing living cartilage, liver, and kidney tissues using specialized 3D printers biomechanik. Researchers from the University of Hangzhou Dianzi even developed for this challenging task own 3D bio-printer called Regenovo. One of the developers Regenovo, Xu Mingen, said that the printer takes less than an hour to produce a small sample of liver tissue or four to five inch ear cartilage sample. Xu predicts the emergence of the first full printed artificial organs within the next 10-20 years. In the same year, researchers from the Belgian University of Hasselt successfully printed a new jaw for an 83-year-old woman. After implantation the patient can chew, speak and breathe.

In Bahrain, 3D printing materials, reminiscent of the Sandstone allowed us to create a unique structure to support coral growth and recovery of damaged reefs. These structures have a more natural form than designs previously used, and not have the acidity of the concrete.

The intellectual property

3D printing has existed for decades, and many aspects of the technology fall under patents, copyright and trademark protection. However, from the point of view of jurisprudence is not entirely clear how the laws on the protection of intellectual property will be applied in practice, if 3D printers will be widely

distribution and will be used in the household production of goods for personal use, non-commercial use or for sale.

Any of the protective measures may negatively affect the distribution of the designs used in 3D printing and sale of printed products. To use the protected technology may require the permission of the owner, which in turn will require the payment of royalties.

Patents cover certain processes, devices and materials. The duration of patents varies in different countries.

It often happens that the copyright applies to the expression of ideas in the form of material objects, and last for the life of the author plus 70 years. Thus, if someone will create the statue and will receive a copyright, the dissemination of designs to print identical or similar statue would be illegal.

The impact of 3D printing

Additive manufacturing requires manufacturing companies flexibility and continuous improvement of available technologies to maintain competitiveness. Advocates of additive manufacturing is predicted to increase in their confrontation of 3D printing and globalization to the extent that, as domestic production will displace trade in goods between consumers and major producers. In reality, the integration of additive technologies into commercial production serves as a complement to traditional subtractive methods rather than full replacement.

Space research

In 2010, work began on the application of 3D printing in microgravity and low gravity. The main goal is the creation of hand tools and more complex devices “as necessary” instead of using valuable cargo volume and fuel for delivery of finished goods to orbit.

At the same time, NASA conducts joint tests with company Made in Space to assess the potential of 3D printing to reduce the cost and increase the efficiency of space research. The details of the missiles, NASA made with additive technologies, successfully tested in July 2013: two of the fuel injectors showed results at the level of parts produced by traditional methods, during the field tests that were the immediate details about 3 temperature of 300°C and high pressure levels. It is noteworthy that NASA is preparing to launch a 3D printer into space: the Agency intends to demonstrate the possibility of creating spare parts directly in orbit, instead of expensive transportation from earth.

Social change

The theme of social and cultural changes as a result of the introduction of commercially available additive technologies, discusses the writers and sociologists since the 1950s. One of the most interesting assumptions was the potential blurring of the boundaries between everyday life and jobs as a result of mass introduction of 3D printers in a home setting. Also indicated is the ease of transfer of digital designs, which in combination with the local production will reduce the need for global transport. Finally, copyright protection may change with respect to ease of additive manufacturing of many products.


In 2012 the American company Defense Distributed released the plans to create a “design functional plastic weapons are available for download and playback any user with access to a 3D printer.” Defense Distributed has developed a 3D-printed version of the receiver for the AR-15 rifle, able to withstand more than 650 rounds, and for 30 bullets for the rifle M-16. AR-15 receiver has two (upper and lower), but the legal records are tied to the bottom box with the stamp with the serial number. Shortly after Defense Distributed created the first working drawings for the production of plastic weapons in may 2013, the US State Department demanded the removal instructions from the website.

Distribution of drawings by the company Defense Distributed fueled debate about the possible impact of 3D printing and digital manufacturing devices for effective control of illicit arms trafficking. However, the proliferation of digital arms models will inevitably face the same problems as the attempts to prevent the trafficking of pirated content.

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