The Future of Printing: From 3D Direct to Garment Printing to Tissue Engineering

3D Printing sounds like something out of a science fiction book. But the reality is, it's already here. It's basically a form of manufacturing where layers of material are added together to create the desired product. A lot of this manufacturing is done with lasers, some of the products are made with polymers, some are made with powders. The most important aspects of these different methods are speed, cost and quality. As a result, 3D printing has lots of different applications.

In the health field, organs and body parts could be built using this new technology. Cells are deposited onto a gel medium and subsequently built up in layers. The result is the bones can literally be built intact, without the need for polishing or refinement. Molding will become obsolete, which will save lots of money and time, as well as the condition of the original. Dentistry will also benefit hugely from 3D printing. 

Already digital garment printing has changed the game of custom t-shirts. It used to be that if you wanted a t-shirt made you'd have to do it the old fashioned way of laying graphics and ironing them on. But today when you choose a design, you get direct 3D Printing to garment printing, which means high resolution, sharp color and exact edges. 3D printing will help other areas of digital garment printing, including archaeological and cultural studies, where the condition of original garments is important to maintain. The original can be modeled and replicated using 3D printing to create a lifelike replica. And in terms of footwear and jewelry too, 3D printing could be a boon; one day every household could own a 3D printer and the design of a new trend or fashion could be as simple as downloading an image of it and programming the printer to create it accordingly.

In architecture, engineering and construction, 3D printing will be sure to leave an impact too. It will make it so that individual firms don't have to contract with as many companies for the building of one project – a 3D printer will obviate trans-regional shipping and contracting, it will simplify and streamline construction jobs. And while this may put some companies out of business, it will also open up new fields in an ever-changing economy.

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Doreatha H. Salmons

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