Everything You Need to Know About 3d Printing But Don’t Know How to Ask

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=everything+you+need+to+know+about+3d+printersThey say that the best way to learn about something is to write a book about it. So that’s what I’m setting out to do now. 
     People have been asking me about 3d printing, rapid prototyping, and additive manufacturing for years and I’ve always had answers. But honestly the answers haven’t really satisfied me.
     I remember one time when the father of a prospective student at WPI, the university where I work asked if we had any rapid prototyping capabilities. I knew he meant 3d printing but I rather flippantly answered that an endmill a half of an inch deep and half of an inch over moving through aluminum at 800 inches per minute is rapid, and it is but it wasn’t what he was asking. 
     The world (at least the part of it that I interact with) is very excited about this “new” technology and rightly so, but if all of your information is from TED talks,Tweets and your own opinions then like me there is much you can learn about this technology.
     As I research my book I’ve developed an initial list of questions:

  • What are today’s printers useful for?
  • Which printer manufacturers will be here in 20 years?
  • How many production printers are made with 3d printed parts?
  • How fast can 3d printers create parts
  • What is the fatigue life of a 3d printed part vs a machined part vs a forged part…
  • What materials can I print
  • What is the cost of additive manufacturing vs the more common subtractive manufacturing?
  • When will I be able to ask my printer for “Earl Grey tea, warm” and get it?
     When I learn the answers to these questions and more I’ll write about them here and when I know enough I’ll put the material together into a book we can all use for reference.