We are witnessing the onset of a new era where everything is compared to the real life experience. The closer to reality the better. We have been bombarded with the concept of 3D since the movie AVATAR hit the theatres. Then from the big screen, the 3D fanfare moved towards the TVs and then we have the 3D pen called the 3Doodler which brings alive our imagination and transcribes them into actual physical representations. This may just sound fun, but it’s also a gateway to a whole new range of possibilities.
What actually takes the 3D era to the next level is the rising popularity of 3D printing. Although 3D printing was present since the 1980’s, since 1984 to be precise, it’s only now that the public are a lot more aware of it.
So what exactly is 3D printing?
3D printing is a manufacturing method whereby 3D objects are quickly made on a reasonably-sized machine connected to a computer containing blueprints for the object.
We’ve been inching into a time characterized by imagination and impulsivity and 3D printing caters to those very characteristics. 3D printers have found their way into different industries like architecture, automobiles, fashion and jewellery, medicine, dentistry, movie productions, education, aviation, etc.
It’s made building models for architectural design, manufacturing automobile and machine parts, creating unique jewellery pieces that much faster and easier than traditional prototype manufacturing methods. It’s been quite revolutionary with respect to the manufacture of prosthetics for dental and medical purposes. Again in the medicinal arena, it’s been a breakthrough for regenerational medicine creating miniature functional organs. A major brownie point to 3D printing is that its products can be customized is more cost efficient. 3D printing has been used for movie sets and costume design, again because it’s much quicker and gives scope to more variety. For Iron Man 3, most of the costumes were made using 3D printing.
But there are 2 main glitches when it comes to 3D printing in India. The first being, that it’s not too commercially accessible and the second being that the plastic used in not recyclable and hence not environmentally friendly.
There have been quite a few start-ups in India with respect to 3D printing. One such start-up was kicked off by 2 Bangalore entrepreneurs, Nikhil Velpanur & Arvind Nadig. They created and launched a low-cost 3D printer called the Bramha3 Anvil, which has received a pretty good response in several Indian and Global exhibitions.
With respect to the recyclability of the plastic used, there is constant research being done in the field to develop safer, usable materials. So we’ll get there soon, hopefully.
3D printing brings customization much closer to us and very soon, breathing life to our weirdest and whackiest ideas does not seem that far off. It’s a beautiful synergy between technology, art & design. There are already 3D printers available in retail stores overseas which allow people to give life to their ideas. If you see, in a very cool and exciting way the age of the Jetson’s seems to be closing in on us.
Shravanthi Venkatesh is a MSc. Psychology Student of Christ College. She’s a passionate writer and is an ardent fan of music, dance and merriment.