Printing Has Come To Life

Autumn R.
Staff Writer

Computer printing has been a part of our society for over sixty years. In a second, one can hit a button, and within a few seconds the screen comes to life on a sheet of paper. The invention of the computer printer has made businesses thrive, advertisements come to life, and school work easier to do. What could possibly be even better than a two dimensional printer? A 3D printer of course! The thought of this invention seemed impossible to produce, at least until now. 3D printing has become reality and is being used sparingly in the world today.3d printing-ar
So what exactly is 3D printing all about? 3D printing is a process of making a three-dimensional solid object of virtually any shape from a digital model. It is achieved using an additive process, where consecutive layers of material are laid down in different shapes. The printing technology is used for prototyping and manufacturing. It aids in fields such as architecture, construction, industrial design, automotive, aerospace, military, engineering, civil engineering, dental and medical industries, fashion, footwear, jewelry, eyewear, education, food, and many other fields.
So now, how does this phenomenon work? To perform a print, the machine reads the design from a specific file on a computer and lays down successive layers of liquid, powder, paper, or sheet material to build the product. The layers correspond to the virtual cross sections from the computer file and are joined or automatically fused to create the final shape. There is no limit as to what shape or figure can be produced by the printer. The computer reads the file of the object and then one can go over to the printer and pull the object out of the powder, which is made by the engineers. If someone wanted to add color to the object, the program on the computer allows the user to do that. Currently many big tool corporations use the 3D printing method. They have products such as wrenches, screwdrivers, and other small tools that are produced by the 3D printer. Say that a person wanted to print a bucket – the program would read the file, and by adding blue polka dots on the program, the printer will print a bucket with blue polka dots.
With this phenomenon growing rapidly every day, it is certain to affect the future. It is speculated that 3D printing may become a mass market item because 3D printing can easily offset businesses’ capital costs by enabling consumers to avoid costs associated with purchasing common household objects. If one wants a new pair of Nike tennis shoes, the printer will be able to produce them, say the makers of these printers. Some believe this could slowly eliminate stores, and shopping online might be the only option in the future. The prediction of how the 3D printer will affect the economy is vague. Economics teacher Joshua Sailers comments, “I do not think the printer will have any harsh effects on the economy or the shopping industry. 3D printing is similar to that of online shopping, but people still go out and enjoy going into stores and what not.” The greater picture entails both positive and negative outcomes.
While 3D printing has not yet been perfected, in the near future (as soon as 3-5 years) it is predicted to be able to be the new technology in homes. The 3D printers will obviously be very expensive when first released to the public, but like every other new fancy technology, the price drops after a year or so. The main issues of perfecting the 3D printer are size and materials of the objects. If one wants tools produced, the printer has to be big enough to produce them. Currently there are many different styles of the 3D printer, but engineers are working on how to make one versatile printer for a variety of uses. The other issue is that the printers can only currently make a product out of one material. Engineers are brainstorming cartridges that people can put in a printer. For example, a tennis shoe right now could only be made out of plastic of rubber, so cartridges are being developed of all different types of materials. The hope is to have the computer program tell the customer which cartridges are needed to print, for example, a tennis shoe. The customer would pop in the required cartridges, such as rubber, plastic, and thread, and the shoe would be crafted. The printer itself may not be extremely expensive, but the cartridges probably will be.
What if Woodstock High School had a 3D printer? Oh wait, we do! The technology department of WHS has a 3D printer within their classroom. Technology teacher Ms. Karen Zayance says the department uses the 3D printer quite often. Currently they have been printing out common objects that are compatible with the printer. Ms. Zayance comments, “We have designed some small items on CAD to print, but our version of CAD is not compatible with the printer. So the county is going to furnish us with a computer suitable to run the newest CAD version (which they have already purchased). When we receive the new CAD version, the students can create and print (make) their own 3D models.” Small vases and storage boxes have been produced by students using the printer, and students have even made a Superman logo for Principal Dr. Paul Weir. The printer cost about $3400, and the class has two types and colors of printer cartridges, which cost $100 each. Students are excited about expanding with the software for the printer, and who knows what Woodstock students will produce in the future!
The advancements of technology in the current society are endless. Who would have predicted the production of a 3D printer in this lifetime? Although the printer is only being used for mass production at the moment in certain places, hopefully in the near future, all people will have access to this phenomenal invention. It is hard to believe it truly exists, and the development of it should be interesting to watch

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