Cafe Scientifique - The 3D Printing Revolution

Added on 19/09/2013

Yesterday evening I attended Café Scientifique for the very first time, and I must say it was both a  surprising and interesting discovery. 

The talk was about “The 3D Printing Revolution” and the speaker, Kati Byrne from Developing Dreams, managed to give a very concise and fascinating half hour talk on what she is passionate about.

3D printing, or additive manufacturing, is making an object from a 3 dimensional digital model by printing it layer upon layer. There are various materials that can be used: the most commonly used are plastics/polymers, but metal, ceramics, wood composite but many others can also be used as a part of the process.

You might be wondering by now, how does it work? Well, once you have the 3D printer (this could be a little bit expensive, going from £800 for a desktop printer to £73,000 for a top end printer) and have decided which source material you are going to use, you go to the 3D modelling software: CAD/CAM, Blender or Google Sketchup (the last two are available for free), design your prototype and print away!

The key advantage of 3D Printing is its ability to produce ready available prototyping and bespoke designs. It also uses less materials, produces less waste and creates less carbon emissions due to local produce availability.

So far this technology is being used in the space, architectural, medical, automotive and consumer good industries… did you know there is a 3D printed Aston Martin in the most recent Bond film Skyfall?

Will 3D printing change the world as we see it now? Where will printing go from this point on? Lots of questions are emerging regarding this technology; the possibilities seem to be limitless. The new freedom of design and the customisation of this developing technology has caught the world's attention, and we will be seeing and hearing a lot from the industry from now on.

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