Outset of additive manufacturing in context with 3D polymer printing

The idea of additive manufacturing (AM) coupled with 3D priming first genesis during the late 1980s to complement the specialized model making and the anonymous prototyping for computer-assisted designs (CAD) and increase in the productivity. Without any special equipped moulding techniques, AM allows the fabrication of tailor-made parts from metals, ceramics, and polymers for the traditional formative and subtractive designs. Now a day, 3D printers are commercially viable for less than 250$ making the synthesis of 3D printing effective and easy enabled. Mimicking the same technology, the birth of the 2D digital printing had disrupted the entire printing and publishing industries revolutionizing the electronics and telecommunications sector of engineering. The introduction of AM framed with Internet if things and Artificial Intelligence has transformed the printing of complex details and multi-pictorial representations. The lacking of the traditional fabrication is controlled by several processing parameters including industrial mass production is undermined by the development of AM which is coherently swift and can be implemented for a specific application as required.

Though the term “additive manufacturing’ is something adapted to most of the engineers, the phrase “3D printing” is more customized and frequently used in the media field. AM basically fabricates the development of 3D structures which consists of the higher degree of shape complexity. Let’s take an example of a customized water bottle. CAD, in the very first step, is used to create a virtual object place which forms the reinforcement of the entire image. The virtual object is then digitally sliced by several IoT tools. Objects consisting of the hanging portions (a handle attached to the bottle) are fabricated as temporarily bolstering structures to prevent collapse during the processing time. The motor, which drives, keeping the image coordinates and the vector positions perfected, controls the position of the 3D dispenser orifice or the primary impregnating device. For layer thickness ranging from 15 to 500 μm, we use the technique of Computer Aided manufacturing, but for thicker layers, post-processing operations are necessary to give the system a perfect finish. As compared to the traditional polymer processing by formative techniques comprising of injection moulding or electrospinning, AM works at a much lower speed but ensures the formation of multifunctional material systems with complicated shapes and biocompatibility.

The gradual development of ‘easy to use systems’ has enabled AM to move to into the highlight of the manufacturing process because of its fast cycle time and inherent speed. In spite of these scientific signs of progress, there are several challenges which AM faces while speaking of scaling up the same to an industrial level. Many of these problems can be attributed to disorders in the thermo-mechanical properties, anisotropy, stability, creep, corrosion and porosity.

The burgeoning growth of the AM processes can be majorly classified into several groups based on the application domain, the condition of the processed material, the condition of the finished product and the solidification process. Apart from these, there are several additive manufacturing processes as defined by the ASTM for instance,

  1.    Material Extrusion- The material is injected through a nozzle selectively with a certain barrier constraint. Phrases such as the fused deposition model, fused filament model fabrication and 3D dispensing can be clubbed together in this category.
  2.    Material Jetting- Here, the droplets of the photopolymers or the thermoplastic materials are deposited aided by a advanced inkjet technology.
  3.    Binder Jetting- This process proceeds via the supplementary effect of a bonding agent which is used to deposit the fused powder.
  4.    Vat Photopolymerization- An advanced technology in which liquid photopolymer is cured by light sensitized polymerization. Most of the lithographic based projection falls into this category including multiphoton polymerization, digital light processing, and stereolithography.
  5.    Powdered bed Fusion- The process somewhat resembles the Vat Photopolymerization except the fact that thermal energy is used here instead of photons.  
  6.    Directed Energy depositing- The most recent incubated technology which induces laser or plasma to fuse materials by the process of mixing.

Looking at the present scenario 3D printing and AM is not restricted to scientists or engineers, but for the common mass. The pen which we use to write is based on either thermoplastics or photopolymers are being used by children’s spectacularly. I feel the genies of AM and 3D printing is a gift for the advancement of science, innovation and Polymer chemistry. I believe that this newly born field of science overlapped by Information Technology and Polymer Science will soon market the overall world in no less than a decade’s time.


  1. Gebhardt, A. Rapid Prototyping; Hanser Verlag: Munich, DE, 2003.
  2. ASTM International – Standards Worldwide; http://www.astm. org/ (accessed Mar 25, 2014).
  3. ASTM F2792-12a. Standard Terminology for Additive Manufacturing Technologies; ASTM International: West Conshohocken, PA, 2012.
  4. Jacobs, P. F. Stereolithography and Other RP&M Technologies – from Rapid Prototyping to Rapid Tooling; SME Publications: Dearborn, MI, 1996.
  5. Jacobs, P. F.; Reid, D. T. Rapid Prototyping & Manufacturing: Fundamentals of Stereolithography; Society of Manufacturing Engineers: Dearborn, MI, 1992.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

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