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3D Printing: When and where does it make sense?

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Twenty years ago, when Captain Jean-Luc Picard ordered: ‘Tea, Earl Grey, hot’ it emerged in a pot from the Star Trek replicator, a machine which made everything and anything from seemingly nothing. An image was created which is so ingrained in our perception of the possible future that 3D printing is perceived by many to be todays' equivalent of the replicator. Does it make sense to print everything and anything on a 3D printer? The media and countless amateur videos suggest that the possibilities are boundless, from a cake to a door handle, from designer shoes to a washer and 3D printing will replace traditional assembly line manufacturing in the near future. Traditional manufacturing has its drawbacks, especially mass production, but it can produce high quality for an amazingly low cost. 3D printing, on the other hand, generates items within a few hours which can be customized each time they are made. However, only in a very few cases can the quality of a mass produced item be attained via 3D printing. In this paper, we discuss glass manufacturing in the UK as an example.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2013

More about this publication?
  • For more than 30 years, IS&T's series of digital printing conferences have been the leading forum for discussion of advances and new directions in 2D and 3D printing technologies. A comprehensive, industry-wide conference that brings together industry and academia, this meeting includes all aspects of the hardware, materials, software, images, and applications associated with digital printing systems?particularly those involved with additive manufacturing and fabrication?including bio-printing, printed electronics, page-wide, drop-on-demand, desktop and continuous ink jet, toner-based systems, and production digital printing, as well as the engineering capability, optimization, and science involved in these fields. In 2016, the conference changed its name formally to Printing for Fabrication to better reflect the content of the meeting and the evolving technology of printing.

    Please note: For purposes of its Digital Library content, IS&T defines Open Access as papers that will be downloadable in their entirety for free in perpetuity. Copyright restrictions on papers vary; see individual paper for details.

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