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3D Printing and Its Capabilities

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In the evolving world of technologies, the 21st century has brought about a rapid push in the realm of imagery and solid printing. For any designer, scientist, engineer, inventor or tech-savvy enthusiast, 3D printing offers the potential to turn big ideas into a three-dimensional reality.

3D printers–as carefully modelled and built up–take data from computer-generated models and translate into a solid and real form. Of the numerous kinds of 3D printing known, the two most popular methods are: Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) and the Stereolithography (SLA). The former being a process where a small amount of plastic is heated up and then fused together layer by layer in order to create a three-dimensional structure whilst the latter is known to become functional by using a laser to solidify a photopolymer (i.e., light reactive plastic) resin. Here, the ultraviolet light (UV) is projected onto a point in the resin, thereby causing it to become a one layer solid at a time.

As it is with emerging technologies, 3D printing has disrupted market forces by transforming and bringing up product development to the next level. Also regarded as additive manufacturing, 3D printing involves joining materials together layer by layer to make objects from a digital model. This strongly defers from subtractive (traditional manufacturing) which entails cutting away of unwanted smaller parts from large pieces of solid materials.

Interestingly, these 3D printing possibilities is already making wholesomely incredible impact in prototype development as it gives the designer the ability to move from an idea to a physical object just within few hours. Conversely, however, prototype creation through conventional methods can take weeks to harness and is usually costly. All of these adds up to a faster turnaround on many project works, many months shaved off the designing process and a huge amount of money salvaged.

Meanwhile, the essential applications and tools for 3D printing — such as rapid prototyping, production parts, manufacturing tooling, functional prototyping, concept modelling, anatomical models, ECS ducting amongst others — crisscrosses business sectors ranging from interior set modelling, architectural design to rapid product prototyping and structural scientific research. Overtime, 3D printing has been etching its name in the golden sands of time as it makes positive waves in the health care and medicine line useable in surgical guides, custom prosthetics and education models for medical professionals; in the chemical industry via the enlargement of molecular structures, and mechanical parts for laboratory tooling; in mechanics where it provides functional prototypes and final products like 3D printed gears, masters and mechanical parts to be machined; in the food industry where it uncovers discoveries that are far beyond 3D printed sugars as prototypes and tools to build or calibrate machineries in the food industry; in 3D maritime industry for prototype and improved spare part management for shipbuilding; in education, it makes available bridge theory and reality by making spectacular 3D learning objects; in 3D printing applications in aeronautics and space where prototypes and functional production parts for planes, drones and satellites are cropped; in 3D textile and fashion where new fabrics structures and on-demand clothes of new materials are changing the shape of the fashion industry; in 3D robotics where customized parts like printed robot arms and short series are created; in 3D optics where prototypes and functional production parts for optics are used to create telescopes, printed lenses, or glass manufacturing; in entertainment and broadcasting for customized props, spare parts, printing on films and general broadcasting; in 3D prototypes and functional parts for consumer electronics and B2B electronic devices with benefits for IoT and automation amidst many others.

When 3D printing first became readily available commercially in the 1980s, it’s very unlikely that it’s early adopters could have thought about the extent at which this technology would be accomplished today. Recently, market surveys and studies that the 3D printing industry will be worth nearly $33 billion USD by 2023, and as several businesses and consumers continue to buy this technology, the possibilities and capabilities for their continued existence and usage looks seemingly endless.

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Although, no matter how great the advent of 3D printing has turned out to become in this new era of the 21st century, it also follows that it does possess certain diminishing blemishes. The limitations of 3D printing, therefore remains a major concern to be battered with. First, sluggishness—perhaps this is due to the several number of internal configuration processes required to be captured by the printer while at work. This, no doubt, requires the calmness of the operator and consumer in all ramifications. The design takes a whole lot of time and calmness before it slowly brings out the output. It’s also known as ‘no design, no 3D print’ as you can’t possibly print anything you can think of without the aid of a Computer Aided Design (CAD).

Secondly, the level of automation in 3D printing is much too low. Currently, additive manufacturing is more suitable for companies that cannot afford to experiment with new technologies.

Third, 3D printing is way too expensive. It’s extremely cost-effective although it is quite economical for only rapid prototyping and customized manufacturing, but for mass production, it is extremely expensive because the prices per gram of materials used will not substantially decrease with numbers.

In addition to this, surface finish and color of the 3D printing part when taken out of the printer usually has a poor surface finish; you cannot easily print more than one color in all the major 3D printers available—except of course by a well-versed professional which of course will be quite tedious.

And lastly, as we are gradually becoming dependent on machines, getting virtually everything automated for better jobs done and with minimal chances of error, the need for human presence in performing tasks is getting seriously affected which will directly impact the employment rate. A lot of people will become unemployed as less man power is required in 3D printing.

Curiously however, no matter how trivial or serious these limitations are, a point to note which still stands out is that: 3D printing has come to redefine the world of solid imagery and printing, and it is gradually becoming a quintessential and promising technology for the whole world to harness.

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3D Printing and Its Capabilities. (2022, October 28). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 24, 2023, from
“3D Printing and Its Capabilities.” Edubirdie, 28 Oct. 2022,
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3D Printing and Its Capabilities [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Oct 28 [cited 2023 Sept 24]. Available from:
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