on June 7th, 2024

In this insightful blog, we investigate the transformative field of additive manufacturing.  

The Engineering Institute of Technology’s (EIT) senior Mechanical Engineering on-campus lecturer and the Doctor of Engineering Research Coordinator, Dr. Vishal Sharma, provides a demonstration of 3D printing from its fundamental principles to its diverse applications across industries.  

With extensive experience of over 25 years in teaching and research, specializing in advanced manufacturing, Dr. Sharma has made significant contributions to his field. In this blog he explores the features, attributes, and prospects of 3D printing technology.  

What is 3D Printing? 

Dr. Vishal Sharma on 3D printing technology
Dr. Vishal Sharma

3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is a transformative technology that allows the creation of three-dimensional objects, layer by layer, from digital designs.  

The purpose of 3D printing is to offer innovatively designed and manufactured objects across a wide range of industries and applications. 3D printing is useful in fields like art and design, architecture and construction, education, healthcare, aerospace and automotive, and so many other fields. 

Features of 3D Printing 

  • Design Flexibility: 3D printing offers design flexibility that traditional manufacturing methods may struggle to achieve. It allows easy incorporation of design changes, iterations, and adaptations without significant tooling or setup adjustments.
  • Material Versatility: 3D printing supports a wide range of materials, including plastics, metals, ceramics, and even biological materials. This versatility allows for the creation of objects with varying properties, such as flexibility, durability, or heat resistance, depending on the material used. 

Some Attributes of 3D Printing  

  • Education and Research: 3D printing is a valuable tool in education for teaching design, engineering, and manufacturing concepts. It is also used in various research fields for prototyping and experimentation. In both education and research, 3D printing fosters creativity, problem-solving skills, and innovation.  
  • Art and Design: 3D printing has revolutionized the art and design industries by offering a versatile and efficient means of producing intricate, customized, and innovative creations. It has expanded the creative toolkit for artists and designers, enabling them to bring their visions to life with greater precision and efficiency than ever before. 

Disadvantages of 3D Printing  

One notable concern relates to quality and safety. The quality and safety of 3D printed items can vary widely depending on the technology, materials, and expertise.  

Poorly printed parts may lead to product failures, safety hazards, or subpar performance. They can even cause a lot of danger and loss of life. 

Future of 3D Printing 

3D printing fosters innovation by enabling rapid prototyping and experimentation, making it easier for individuals and companies to turn creative ideas into physical objects. Also, it allows for highly customized and personalized products, ranging from medical implants to consumer goods and fashion items, meeting individual preferences and needs. 

Watch Dr. Sharma’s demonstration here:  

3D Printing of Mobile Stand 

This product is a mobile stand, typically manufactured using injection moulding technology. However, for this version, it is produced using 3D printing. The steps for 3D printing the mobile stand are as follows: 

  1. Measure and then create a 3D computer-aided design (CAD) model of the part using CAD software such as SolidWorks, Fusion 360, etc. 
  1. Prepare the CAD model for 3D printing by exporting it from the CAD software to the .STL file format. 
  1. Import the .STL file into 3D printing software (Creality Print, in this case). In this software, machine parameters can be set, such as layer thickness, orientation, and supports. Once everything is configured, perform the slicing operation, which will generate a program with G-codes. 
  1. Transfer the program generated in the previous step to the 3D printer (FDM Creality machine in this case) and initiate the printing. 
  1. Remove the printed part from the printer and finish it. This step is known as post-processing. 
  1. Put the part to use. 

EIT has a couple of 3D printers stationed at the Perth campus, with another one located in Melbourne. Additionally, we will soon be acquiring one for our office in South Africa. Stay tuned as we plan to arrange a “live” demo session later this year to showcase the capabilities of this exciting technology. 

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