03. April 2015 · Comments Off on Synopsis of 3D printing from engineering professor Robert Bailey · Categories: Uncategorized

Not that long ago I attended an excellent lecture by Loyola Maryland University Engineering professor Robert Bailey in which he laid out before the audience several key points about the emergence of 3D Printing Technologies:


1986: Chuck Hull patents stereolithography

1988: SLA-1 system sold commercially

1990s: Z Corp unveils 3D Printing

2005: RepRap project in the U.K. receives press coverage

2009: MakerBot CNC is available as the first commercially available printer in kit form

2010 to present: 3D Printing takes off in popularity and in media coverage

Design Software:

Solid Works

Auto Desk




Printing Processes:


Fused Deposition Modeling

Poly Jet 3D Printing

Selective Laser Sintering

Its Use by Engineering Students: The 3D Printing allows students to go beyond mere conceptualization of a prototype to actually building a prototype. This allows them to better assess the accuracy of their prototype as well as their understanding of the design.


Hobbyist Level: $500-$1500

Enthusiast Level: $2000-$3000

Small Business: $5000-$15000 or more

(The three levels above assume that you use plastics for printing, if you use metal it is more expensive see below)

Print Metal: $100,000 or more

Costs for Plastics: Using Fused Deposition Modeling it costs $1.00 to $10.00 per cubic inch, using PolyJet it costs $5.00 to $20.00 per cubic inch

Currently economies of scale are such that the cost prohibits large scale manufacturing and only allows for creation of prototypes

Important Developments that can shape the future:

Note: Private Enterprise is leading the way with 3D Printing, but academia is quickly following

Columbia University Medical Center: Meniscus Regenerated with 3D Printed Implant

GE using 3D Printers to make parts

Contour Crafting: Using 3D Printers to build physical structures

Local Motors is using 3D Printers to build cars

Housing in China built with 3D Printers

Building structures with 3D Printing technology will prove complex as it raises questions as to structural integrity, leaking, and whether such structures can pass building codes

Bottom Line: This technology will revolutionize manufacturing, product design, and engineering instruction. Bailey foresees the technology taking off at the personal use level.

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