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Anyone for 3D printing?

If you are a student at the Ravensbourne higher education college the answer to that question would be an emphatic yes. Ravensbourne’s students have access to 3D printers which they use for making rapid prototypes of their designs. Printing can take a while and often the machines are left to run overnight. But it is quicker than traditional methods and making a change is easier because it requires only a tweak to a computer model rather than, say, re-tooling a machine.

Instead of printing ink on paper, 3D printers use a fine powder that sets into a hard, plaster-like finish, building up an object one layer at a time. Building an object layer by layer wastes less material than traditional production methods and makes it possible to produce things that are very hard to make in other ways. The technique has many possibilities and one example is the aircraft industry such as a wing. Schools in California are already installing 3D printers and it’s not hard to imagine them slowly appearing in all schools, just as computers did in the 1980s.