3D printing is also called additive manufacturing. This term refers to a principle common to all 3D printing techniques, namely superimposing thin layers of material (16 to 180 microns thick, or more) at coordinates transmitted by a 3D file.
There are several 3D printing processes, which can be classified into three main groups:
These three processes work on the same basic principle, i.e. superimposing layers of matter at coordinates supplied by a 3D file. The difference lies in the way these layers are laid down and processed, as well as in the type of material used.
There are a great many and varied fields of application for 3D printing. The aeronautics and space industries start by printing unique parts made to measure and NASA works on models that will be sent into space.
Medicine is also a tremendous field of application for 3D printing: made-to-measure prostheses, replicas of bones, and even (in the future) the printing of human tissue. For consumers, the manufacturing of small objects useful in everyday life is already in motion.
Fashion creators and artists now use this technology, which opens up a vast range of possibilities.
Encouraging local manufacturing of products, reducing the average number of parts in a product, and reducing the amount of raw materials used to produce an object: these are just some of its ecological benefits. But the growth and democratization of the 3D printing market also increases demand for materials (plastic) and the amount of printing waste to be processed.