3D printing is a very neat form of manufacturing technologyin my opinion. It allows for the creation of some seriously intricate piecesthat can’t be done through traditional manufacturing, it is very efficient inmany situations, and has no ceiling on where it can go. There are some crazyapplications such as printing parts to firearms, food, houses, organs, andother entirely custom designs. There is simply no limit as to where thistechnology could go in my opinion. One factor about this technology that I wantto discuss is the efficiency, as well as the “green” capabilities of thistechnology. 3D Printing is much more friendly for the environment than otherforms of manufacturing like mold manufacturing, or traditional (and newer)machining applications. There are simply so many possibilities for thistechnology, not to mention the great factors for it. Before I even get into that, let me discuss what 3D printingactually is, and how the process works. First off, 3D printing is the layer bylayer assembly of pretty much whatever you want. A printer, or machine used for3D printing will actually lay down materials at a layer at a time. These layerscould be a fraction of the diameter of a human hair, or they could be a foot inlength. There are so many options when it comes into manufacturing pieces.There are so many materials to choose from, there are well over 100 in fact.There are so many machines to choose from! There are printers which are assmall as your desktop printer, but there are printers which are larger thanyour king sized bed. Some of these printers will be creating small pieces fordental applications, hearing aids, jewelry applications, and small pieces. Someof these printers are prototyping large pieces used in cars, houses, and variouslarge pieces. There are tons of variety in what can be produced. How does 3D printing actually work? Well, like I said theprinter will lay down material one layer at a time. However, these machines runoff of a CAM system, or a computer aided manufacturing system. This means that3D printing is done through an automated process. A designer of some kind willhave to create a 3D model from his or her computer, and he or she will have tosend the model to the printer. When everything is assembled on the printer, thedesign will be plugged I, and the operator will pretty much hit “go” and theprint will start. This technology is very significant, as it is very green forthe environment. The amount of material used is typically the amount ofmaterial used. Due to the layer by layer process, material is added, notremoved and wasted. Also, 3D printing helps to reduce outsourced work, as itcan simply be plugged into the machine in the US, instead of outsourced toIndia, China, or Taiwan. The transportation of moving product from a facilityin China to the USA is much harsher than the production of a custom part from alocal printer.