The Third Industrial Revolution Is Upon Us!
Ever put on those 3D glasses at the movie theater that change the way you see things? Well, now, thanks to 3D printing, you can change the way you see, feel, and create things as well. So, prepare to be amazed. Welcome the 3rd Industrial Revolution — 3D printing!
How did you get into this exciting industry?
I was always a techy, so when I found out about 3D printing I was blown away. My first design was a tefillin box in the shape of the Beit Hamikdash. People found it fascinating and wanted to know where I found such a unique item. After that, I bought my first 3D printer and I haven’t stopped printing since. Today I have five different printers that sometimes create a variety of different objects at the same time. It’s quite a sight.
What is 3D printing?
This is the most common question people ask me. 3D printing is an additive manufacturing process by which 3-dimensional objects are formed. The reason it is called an “additive process” is because material is being put together in a precise manner in order to create the final object, as opposed to destructive manufacturing whereby an object is created by eliminating or machining material from a block of wood or metal. With 3D printing objects are produced using digital model data from a 3d model designed on a computer. This model makes it possible to create objects in almost any shape – from gadgets to clothing, from jewelry to cars, from airplane parts to body parts. Many experts consider 3D printing to be the beginning of the third industrial revolution.
What items or services do you offer via 3D printing? If I have an idea, a concept, or a design like a children’s toy or a woman’s necklace, can I just go to you to create it for me?
Anything you can think of can be made, within the limits of the material and technology available. I offer a complete 3D printing service. That means I’ll help you with the concept and design of your item. To this end, I offer 3D scanning and photogrammetry, as well as 3D printing and post processing. You’ll be able to see how your idea looks and receive an actual working model. Many of my business clients have ideas for products they want to produce in the Far East. I save them valuable time and money by doing the prototyping locally, and when they’re happy with what I’ve created, they ship the final prototype out to get mass produced. I also produce custom jewelry and Judaica that can be cast in gold and silver. I can use a doctor’s DICOM file to print models of organs for complicated surgeries. Students send me their design files to be printed for their final project. Parents send me files that their kids found online for me to print them. The list goes on and on.
How complex of an item can you print?
The beauty of 3D printing is that complexity is, generally, not an issue. In fact, it’s a benefit of 3D printing. Many designs can only be manufactured economically using 3D printing. That’s not to say there aren’t limits to 3D printers, at least at this point in time. But these limits rarely affect the average individual or company that requires our services.
Design limitations vary among the different 3D printing processes, but in general limits are more specific to feature size. For instance, if you wanted writing on your 3D printed part, the actual thickness of the letters would need to be at least 300 microns or about a third of a millimeter.
Does a customer need to have a basic blueprint before coming to you?
Not at all. The creative process is one of the joys of 3D printing. Many times I have clients coming to me with a general concept or idea and we work together to create the final product. Clients enjoy seeing their ideas come to life and I am forever amazed at how really creative my clients can become.
What if a customer isn’t happy with the end result?
I’m in a customer satisfaction business. My goal is for the customer to be happy. If my customer is not satisfied with the way their design turned out, I will work with them to make sure it’s exactly what they were expecting. Often, when designing a product to be sent to the Far East for production, we have to go through several revisions in order to get it just right. The goal is that with each step in the process, my client is one step closer to making his dream a reality.
What are the most popular usages of 3D printing?
3D printing benefits nearly every industry. In fact, I have yet to find an industry for which 3D printing doesn’t provide cost and time effective savings. But it’s not only helpful for the industry, it’s also a revolution for consumer customizable manufacturing. Today, you can individualize almost everything, from a keychain to a prosthetic arm for an amputee. The possibilities are endless.
If plastic is the primary material used by 3D printers, how can there be such a range of available items?
3D printing today is not limited to plastics but operates with a variety of other materials like metal, resins, food, and even stem cells that can be used to create organs. The materials I specifically deal with include, but are not limited to, hard plastics, rubber-like goods, professional engineering resins, as well as resins that can be sent to a casting house to be melted and turned into silver or gold.
Is the finished product as durable as a product bought in the store?
Another great advantage to 3D printing is that I can select materials that match and often exceed the durability of the same store-bought product. However, usually 3D printing is used to improve or customize a current product, or manufacture a replacement part that would otherwise be locally unavailable, like parts for a foreign refrigerator or washer/dryer. I myself have repaired many things around the house with a 3D printed part that would have otherwise required me to replace an entire appliance or system.
What about the software? Can it be used by a layman or do you need to have an understanding of the 3D field?
Obviously you need to have some knowledge of the 3D printing field to be successful. If you’re looking to design something yourself, I suggest starting with any of a number of free programs like Tinkercad.com or Thingiverse.com. These types of sites will show you numerous designs made by others and you’ll be inspired by the hundreds of thousands of 3D printable files you can choose from.
Do you think 3D printers will become a standard item in homes and offices within the next 10 years?
I think the same question was asked when the first sewing machines came out. Technically, people could make and fix their own clothes but we don’t all own a sewing machine. While 3D printing technology is steadily progressing, I doubt it will as commonplace as the computer. Nevertheless, I can see a time, very soon, when every neighborhood will have their local 3D printing service creating everything from personalized books to 5-speed bicycles, and beyond.