3D Printing is a three-dimensional way of printing where a digital file is converted to a physical 3D object. With the use of a special printer and materials as metals, platsics and a range of other materials, it is possible to print a three-dimensional object. Although the technique is aready available for about 25 years, it seems to become feasable for the home user nowadays. As the technique evolves, the range of sectors in which 3D printing is applied is also widened to, for instance, the medical sector.
Previously, 3D Printing was especially used in the professional sector to create prototypes in a quick and affordable manner. The printers used for this purpose where very expensive and most of the time too big to be suitable for home users. Nowadays you can buy 3D printers which suits the needs of a hobbyist or home user for a couple of hundred Euro. There are also various materials (filaments) available for reasonable prices. In the article about costs you can read more about this.
It will take a while before we will be able to produce high quality and ready to use products, but the availability for the home user market can pave the way for rapid developments. The printed objects of various materials look appealing, but most of them need a finishing before they look 100% smooth. This is caused by the fact that an object is build layer by layer by the printer. A printed object doesn't have a smooth surface yet. The method of finishing is dependant o the material which is used to create the object. You can find an overview of finishing methods in the article 'Cleaning Parts'.
For the creation of a digital 3D file a special software application is needed. The software for the professional application is often too expensive and too complex to be used by everybody. Besides commercial software you can find a lott of open-source software on the internet, which can be used free of charge. In the article 'Software' we give an overview of some of the vendors on this market.