Are you planning to venture into manufacturing a particular product? Then 3D printing is one of the things that should come into your mind. This is an important service that every manufacturer of a solid product will have to buy, writes Robin Duo of Dongguan Roche Industrial Co.

What is 3D printing? Where can I get 3D printing? What are its benefits?

3D printing, or what is commonly known as additive manufacturing, is a procedure for making three-dimensional solid items or products from a digital file that has been created by a computer. 

The production of a 3D printed product is achieved by utilising additive procedures. In an additive process, an item is made by setting down progressive layers of material until the desired outcome is ready.

Each of these layers can be viewed as a meagerly cut level cross-area of the possible product. 

3D printing is very different from other forms of manufacturing, such as subtractive manufacturing. This is because it is characterised by the addition of items instead of removing/digging out a bit of the material or plastic with, for example, a processing machine. 

3D printing makes it possible for one to create complex shapes utilising less material than conventional manufacturing strategies.

A brief history of 3D printing

Behind any amazing technology is a great history. So, where did 3D printing come from?

3D printing was first presented in the late 1980s. It was first commercially utilised as a fast prototyping strategy in the aviation and car enterprises. Charles Hull, who later helped to establish 3D Systems, had a patent given for a stereolithography framework (or SLA for short). 

In 1988, 3D Systems made a major breakthrough when it sold its first modern 3D printer using the SLA technology. 

In the mid-1990s, numerous modern 3D printing organisations were established. They all developed procedures and techniques that are still used in the modern 3D arena.

Just three of the significant 3D printing organisations from when 3D printing's just application was mechanical, are still available. The most significant ones are 3D Systems, EOS, and Stratasys. 

It wasn't until 2009 that 3D printing turned out to be commercially accessible to the majority. The RepRap open-source venture made the way for reasonable desktop 3D printers using the Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) technology. 

At that point, and in the years following 2009, new and different organisations began enhancing, making and improving the customer/desktop 3D printer to where today, we have high-calibre and affordable modern desktop 3D printers that utilise the FDM and other 3D printing technologies.

How does 3D printing work?

To make a 3D printed object, you utilise an 'additive procedure'. The three-dimensional object is made by setting down progressive layers of material until the item is done.

Well, this is from a general perspective of how the 3D printing works. But, what are the underlying procedures?

The procedure of 3D printing starts by making a realistic model of the object to be printed. This is normally done utilising Computer-Aided Design (CAD) programming software bundles.

This is usually viewed as the most intensive and delicate portion of the whole 3D printing procedure. Projects utilised for creating 3D models include TinkerCAD, Fusion360, and Sketchup. 

For complex objects, these models are frequently broadly tried in simulation for any potential deformities in the final object. 

Obviously, it is always expected that the final object to printed will be beautiful although this is not always a big issue.

From model to printer

Cutting or slicing entails separating a 3D model into hundreds or thousands of even layers and is finished with a cutting programming. 

The slicer programming software will likewise include bolster or supporting columns, where required. 

These are required on the grounds that plastic can't be set down in thin air, and the sections help the printer to connect the holes. These columns are afterwards removed if necessary.

Some 3D printers have a built-in slicer and let you feed the crude .stl, .obj or even CAD document. 

At the point when your document is cut, it's fit to be taken to your 3D printer. This can be possible by means of USB, SD or web. Your cut 3D model is currently prepared to be 3D printed layer by layer.

The video below gives a summary of how 3D printing works

3D printing technologies

There are different types of techniques that are used in 3D printing.

Fused deposition Modelling(FDM)

Thermoplastic material is warmed and expelled through a nozzle. The spout releases the liquid material layer by layer onto a form stage. Each layer adheres to the one underneath it.


The build stage is brought down with a shower loaded up with a liquid known as photopolymer gum. The resin is sensitive to light and gets strong when subjected to a laser beam. Each cross area of the 3D model is followed onto the layer of resin that preceded it. This is rehashed layer by layer until the 3D object is finished.

Binder jetting

This method of 3D printing uses powder to create the layers of the material. An adhesive binder is used for binding the power onto the material surface.

Selective laser sintering

This procedure uses a laser bar intertwining powdered material. The principal layer of powdered material is equally rolled onto the build platform after which the layer of the 3D model is combined by a laser. 

Next, the build platform is brought down by the width of one layer, and the following layer of powder is folded into position. This procedure is repeated until the 3D object is done.

Difference between 3D printing vs additive manufacturing

Is 3D printing the same as additive manufacturing? Many people have been confused by these two terminologies.

The short answer is no. The expression '3D printing' originates from the utilisation of inkjet printer heads (in the main 3D printers) to store, either layers of UV-reparable photopolymer gum or a coupling material onto a layer of powder in a powder bed process. In any case, the term envelops all additive manufacturing technology. 

The more specialised, or right, method for alluding to the 3D printing and additive process procedure of building a 3D object is by using a digital file.

Difference between 3D printing vs 4D printing

From a general point of view, 4D printing can be considered as a subset of 3D printing. The main difference is the state of the object or product after the printing process.

For the 3D printing, the object is expected to remain in the same solid state even after the whole process. On the other hand, products on the 4D printing can change their original form when subjected to external forces.

What are the applications of 3D printing?

3D printing has a broad range of applications in the modern world. There is a strong chance that any solid product that you are using was manufactured via 3D printing.

Here are some of the modern applications of 3D printing:

  • Automotive industry
  • Aerospace
  • Medical industry
  • Architecture and construction
  • Consumer products
  • Industrial products

Automotive industry

Vehicle manufacturers have been using 3D printing for quite a while. 3D printing has empowered on-request manufacturing which has brought down stock levels and has shortened development and creation cycles. 

Diehard car enthusiasts everywhere throughout the world are utilising 3D printed parts to update old classic vehicles.


Another common application of 3D printing is in construction. Solid 3D printing has been being developed for quite a long time as a quick and less expensive approach to construct buildings.

Huge 3D printers print in concrete that can be used for foundations and walls can be fabricated on location. They can likewise be utilised to print particular solid areas that are later assembled when on site. 

Check out the world’s famous buildings and you will discover that most of them were backed up by a 3D printing service.

Medical field

In recent years, there's been a great deal of 3D printing applications in the field of medicine. The most common applications include bioprinting and medical procedure planning to prosthetics. This sector is still under an intense deal of research. 

3D printed prosthetics are a useful consequence of 3D printing's flexibility. It's famously troublesome and costly to create prosthetics that fit patients, however, open-source driven organisations are able to hack this issue thanks to 3D printing. 

Estimated prosthetics can be demonstrated, and 3D printed at a drastically reduced cost.Those from underdeveloped nations, where prosthetics may not be an option, can exploit 3D printed items. 

A new application that is being explored is bioprinting, or 3D printing cells and tissue. It is a dream that one day, we'll have the option to 3D print bones and organs for patients who need them, as opposed to hanging tight waiting for organ donors.


An ever-increasing number of schools are incorporating 3D printing into their educational plan as devices to improve the quality of education. Makerspaces, furnished with printers, CNC machines, and different devices, are becoming a common thing in most schools. 

Additionally, 3D printers can be found in open libraries. Most colleges have 3D printers for students to use for classes or their own tasks. Not only do 3D printers enable students to be more innovative, but at the same time, it is hoped that 3D printing will lead to a better education.

Arts and jewellery

One of the newest applications of 3D printing is in the art and fashion industries. 3D printed jewellery has become a well-known speciality for those who desire to display their uniqueness and creativity. 

With the presentation of 3D printers, jewellery creators can try different things with designs that were otherwise unrealistic with the conventional jewellery-production techniques. Furthermore, 3D printers make it less expensive to create single jewellery pieces for clients. The versatility of 3D printing allows it to be used on different materials for jewellery.

Industrial manufacturing

3D printing initially evolved as a quicker option of prototyping. A major advantage of utilising 3D printing is its adaptability and versatility, which makes it ideal for little scope fabricating and prototyping. 

Alternative methods such as injection molded prototype may be very expensive and take a long time to make a single mold. That is bad in the case of attempting to achieve mass production. Put resources into a 3D printer, and you will get a lot done within a short timeframe.

This additionally makes 3D printing ideal for situations where you do not want to venture into mass production. It can still suit your small-scale manufacturing needs. This is different from conventional manufacturing, which is mainly suited for mass production.

Consumer products

Apart from industrial products, 3D printing is also used for the manufacturing of consumer products. It is a preferred method of manufacturing because it facilitates mass production. Some of the products that are made out of this process include footwear and eyewear.

Main benefits of 3D printing

1. Faster production

Let’s say you are still using the traditional manufacturing method and you are okay with it. However, when it comes to comparing it with 3D manufacturing, you will notice the differences.

Comparing the two is the same as comparing a sports car vs a horse-drawn cart. Both will arrive at their goal, however, the time difference is altogether tremendous. From a model to the last item, 3D printing tests ideas and designs quickly. 

Quicker model development and design will eventually translate to more opportunity. 3D printing creation takes only hours. On the other hand, testing thoughts and designs with traditional assembling strategies can take days, if not weeks and months.

2. High quality designs and products

Conventional manufacturing strategies can, without much of a stretch, result in poor designs and thus poor quality models. Envision a situation where somebody needs to bake a cake by mixing all the ingredients together, blending them up, and placing them in the oven

Poorly done mixture will definitely result in a poorly baked cake. You can experience such issues with injection and subractive methods of manufacturing.

You are not guaranteed quality 100% of the time. 3D printing follows step by step patching of different components, which ensures upgraded designs and, in the long run, better-quality articles.

3. Easy to test and iterate

3D printing provides room for testing the model. It is conceivable to encounter the touch and feel of the item prototype. From there, you will be in a position to unravel all the design flaws. On the off chance that an issue is discovered, you can alter the CAD document and print out another model early enough. 

4. Easy to customise

Conventional manufacturing strategies are ideal for making a great many duplicates of something very similar. It brings about the same dull and exhausting designs without any significant improvements. Making each design special or unique with these strategies is phenomenally hard. 

3D printing takes into consideration unending personalisation, which makes it a lot more straightforward and to the satisfaction of your customers. 

Your creative mind is the main restriction. You can make a product that is accurately designed to fit somebody's specific needs. This eliminates the numerous visits that a client needs to ensure they have an appropriate product.

5. Allows different sizes and shapes 

The good thing about 3D printing is the flexibility that it provides. You can create models of different shapes, sizes and geometry.

Old techniques for assembling depend on moulds and slicing techniques to create the ideal shapes. Designing geometrically complex shapes can be hard and costly with these technologies. 3D printing takes on this task effortlessly and there's very little the technology can't do with the use of the correct material.

6. Can be used on different materials

3D printing effectively suits a differing scope of crude material, including metal glass, plastic, paper, ceramics, diamond, and a plethora of other options. Most conventional alternatives are very limited.

What are the limitations of 3D printing?

While we have seen how 3D printing is powerful for many different applications, it also has some limitations. There are applications or situations where it may not work efficiently as expected.

1.) Expensive: 3D printing is more expensive than most of the traditional methods of manufacturing.

The cost of 3D printing hardware and materials make the innovation costly. Modern evaluation 3D printers are quite expensive, costing a huge amount of capital investment, which makes the underlying costs of utilising the innovation extremely high. 

The good news is you can avoid the issue of the high cost of 3D printing. Simply outsource the service, and you will be able to save yourself from incurring high expenses. 

2.) High energy consumption:3D printers are energy-thirsty. They consume a huge amount of energy, and this will raise your electricity bills.

3.) Toxic emissions: in the past, the first generation of 3D printers were known to emit toxic gases and chemicals to the environment. You don’t have to worry about this as the latest LED printers are more environmently friendly.

Further information

If you are looking for 3D printing services in China, a free 3D printing quotation can be obtained here.


Applications of 3D printing in medicine

3D printing applications