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3D Printing: What You Should Know About This Amazing Technology

3D Printing: What You Should Know About This Amazing Technology

Three-dimensional printing is a remarkable technology that is sure to change the world as we know it. In fact, it has already affected things in some big ways. People are making items for a lower price than ever before with 3D printing, and some are even creating things that were not even possible prior to the invention of the recent technology.

So how did 3D printing come to be? What are some examples of the amazing technology’s huge potential? Read about that and more below.

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1. What 3D printing is

The process of 3D printing is a complicated one, but here is an attempt to sum it up: a virtual design is made in a file that either uses a 3D modeling program to create something new or a 3D printer to duplicate something that already exists. The software for 3D printing “slices” the design into hundreds or thousands of separate layers. The 3D printer will then blend all those layers together into one physical object.

2. A brief history of 3D printing

It has been around for decades, but until recently, the only 3D printing option was industrial printing. Industrial 3D printing was mainly used in the creation of prototypes with a technique referred to as rapid prototyping. The industrial 3D printers cost tens of thousands of dollars, but they were indispensable to companies in need of rapid prototyping or manufacturing, and it was a quick way to produce a relatively small number of products in a short period of time.

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What’s known as either personal or domestic 3D printing started around 2011. Rapid development in the industry has led to less expensive 3D printers priced at $250 for the simpler versions to $2,500 for the high-end ones. The hobbyist market really gained ground with open-source 3D printing projects. Thanks to those, anyone could put together their own 3D printer and have access to a large number of designs, making the process extremely appealing to a wide number of consumers.

It isn’t just for fun, though; 3D-printing technology is expected to make an impact in the developing world by making it cheaper and easier to dispense crucial resources to people who are in desperate need of them.

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3. Applications of 3D printing

Among its many other potential uses, 3D printing can be utilized for such things as architecture, healthcare, education, creativity, retail, and general entertainment.

4. Stunning examples

Some things you can use 3D printing for are to improve a living situation, improve lives, and even save lives. As this article from IFLScience explains, a man named Andrey Rudenko printed a small castle with concrete through the magic of 3D printing. He hopes to expand to building medium-sized houses more affordably with the power of 3D printing.

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The tool is also commonly used to create prosthetics. Check out this delightful piece from the Huffington Post (which includes a video) about an adorable dog who was able to run for the first time because of some high-tech three-dimensional printing.

Beyond even that, though, 3D printing is literally saving lives. A newborn baby’s complex surgery was made easier when doctors were able to print out a 3D version of the little patient’s heart. With that to study, the surgeon only needed to do one (successful) surgery.

It’s amazing all that 3D printing has accomplished in its relatively short existence. That list of feats will only grow as scientists and developers further expand the potential of the incredible devices. Be warned that some of the changes might not necessarily be good (consider its possible impact on employment; I doubt it will take as many people to build a 3D printed house than one made by hand) but it’s still going to be incredibly exciting to see where the technology goes next.

Featured photo credit: 3D Printer at the Fab Lab/Keith Kissel via flickr.com

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Matt OKeefe

Matt is a marketer and writer who shares about lifestyle and productivity tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on February 15, 2019

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

Joe’s Goals

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    Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

    Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

    Daytum

      Daytum

      is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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      Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

      Excel or Numbers

        If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

        What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

        Evernote

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          I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

          Evernote is free with a premium version available.

          Access or Bento

            If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

            Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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            You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

            Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

            All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

            Conclusion

            I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

            What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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