3D printing or additive manufacturing is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file....The creation of a 3D printed object is achieved using additive processes. In an additive process an object is created by laying down successive layers of material until the object is created. Each of these layers can be seen as a thinly sliced horizontal cross-section of the eventual object. 3D printing is the opposite of subtractive manufacturing which is cutting out / hollowing out a piece of metal or plastic with for instance a milling machine. 3D printing enables you to produce complex (functional) shapes using less material than traditional manufacturing methods.
Car manufacturers, restorers and repairers have been employing 3D printing for a long time. Automotive industry experts only expect the use of AM technologies to grow in the coming years. Companies are using it to produce not just parts, but tools and interior elements. It has also enabled on-site development, leading to a decrease in dependence on foreign manufacturing.
The outlook for medical use of 3D printing is evolving at an extremely rapid pace as specialists are beginning to utilize 3D printing in more advanced ways. Patients around the world are experiencing improved quality of care through 3D printed implants and prosthetics never before seen. Even 3D printing pens are helping out in orthopaedic surgery.
If you want to see 3D printing applied in the wildest ways imaginable, look no further than the aerospace industry. From materials to concept printers they are doing some of the most interesting, cutting edge research in the entire field, all for the purpose of making interstellar exploration more habitable.
Besides rapid prototyping, 3D printing is also used for rapid manufacturing. Rapid manufacturing is a new method of manufacturing where companies are using 3D printers for short run / small batch custom manufacturing. In this way of manufacturing the printed objects are not prototypes but end user products.
While much of the focus for 3D printing in the medical industry has been around implants and medical devices, one of the largest areas of application has concentrated on anatomy. Historically, clinical training, education and device testing have relied on the use of animal models, human cadavers, and mannequins for hands-on experience in a clinical simulation. These options have several deficiencies including limited supply, expense of handling and storage, the lack of pathology within the models, inconsistencies with human anatomy, and the inability to accurately represent tissue characteristics of living humans