3D printing creates three-dimensional objects through a process called additive manufacturing. A 3D printer receives commands via computer-aided design (CAD) and layers materials like plastics, composites, or bio-materials to create a nearly limitless array of objects, from simple jewelry to the components of a near-earth orbit satellite.
The printing process, akin to the efficiency of a traditional 2D printer, adds to a printed piece until it is complete. However, the marvel of 3D printing lies in its ability to build on both horizontal and vertical axes, a feat that sets it apart from its 2D counterpart.
Today, there are more than a dozen types of 3D printing. Some of the most popular include:
-     Stereolithography (SLA) in which layers of photosensitive liquid resin are exposed to a UV laser. The process hardens each layer, creating a foundation for each subsequent layer.
-     Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) creates high-performance, engineering-grade thermoplastic. The resulting objects have high mechanical strength, making them ideal for engineering and manufacturing.
-     Digital Light Processing (DLP) enables high-speed 3D printing. Like SLA, this technique also employs plastic resin. But instead of a laser, the printer uses arc lamps to melt the resin.
Organizations worldwide are using 3D printers to advance their efforts. The healthcare industry famously employed the technology to create replacement parts for ventilators during the global pandemic.
Aerospace manufacturers use 3D printers for rapid prototyping. Quickly and efficiently producing new vehicle prototypes allows them to accelerate the research and development process while reducing costs.
Manufacturers can use 3D printing to quickly replace tools and parts that wear down over time. For instance, a factory that makes SUVs could use 3D printing to replace broken components on an assembly line. Over the years, the savings in cost and time and the reduced need for shipping could lower consumer prices and help battle climate change.

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