3D printing is a process that is used to builds a three-dimensional object from a computer-aided design (CAD) model, by adding material layer by layer. It is used for rapid prototyping and material wastage is very less since it is an additive manufacturing process.
3D printable models can be created with computer-aided design, 3D scanner, by first making a blueprint of the object to be printed.
This model is then sliced into two-dimensional layers by a slicing software. It is further converted into G-code after which the filament melts and deposits on a build platform and a layer is printed on top of which many more layers are printed till we get the actual model.
Some common methods of 3D printing are Fused filament fabrication (here plastic materials are heated and extruded), Stereolithography (here UV light is used to cure or harden resins, layer by layer), Selective laser sintering (here lasers are used to fuse powdered materials together, layer by layer).
Plastics are the most commonly used materials in 3d printing, but metals and even wood filament can also be 3D printed. Some other materials that can be used are Polyamide (Nylon), alumide, photopolymers, and epoxy resins.
3D Printing is way better than conventional manufacturing processes like forging, casting and machining because it is very customizable and moreover material wastage is very less since the material is added layer by layer in contrary to material removal from a block (subtractive manufacturing).
Creating any object with 3D printing is much cheaper, faster and more accurate.3D printers are readily available in the market and many printing services are also being offered by companies.
3D Printing is widely used, some of its applications are printing drugs in pharmaceutical industries, in the space industry, fabric designing in the fashion industry, and prosthetics for human beings, lightweight mechanical components and recently even in printing circuit boards and food too.