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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 May 14, 2019

8 Replacements for Google Notebook

8 Replacements for Google Notebook

Exploring alternatives to Google Notebook? There are more than a few ‘notebooks’ available online these days, although choosing the right one will likely depend on just what you use Google Notebook for.

  1. Zoho Notebook
    If you want to stick with something as close to Google Notebook as possible, Zoho Notebook may just be your best bet. The user interface has some significant changes, but in general, Zoho Notebook has pretty similar features. There is even a Firefox plugin that allows you to highlight content and drop it into your Notebook. You can go a bit further, though, dropping in any spreadsheets or documents you have in Zoho, as well as some applications and all websites — to the point that you can control a desktop remotely if you pare it with something like Zoho Meeting.
  2. Evernote
    The features that Evernote brings to the table are pretty great. In addition to allowing you to capture parts of a website, Evernote has a desktop search tool mobil versions (iPhone and Windows Mobile). It even has an API, if you’ve got any features in mind not currently available. Evernote offers 40 MB for free accounts — if you’ll need more, the premium version is priced at $5 per month or $45 per year. Encryption, size and whether you’ll see ads seem to be the main differences between the free and premium versions.
  3. Net Notes
    If the major allure for Google Notebooks lays in the Firefox extension, Net Notes might be a good alternative. It’s a Firefox extension that allows you to save notes on websites in your bookmarks. You can toggle the Net Notes sidebar and access your notes as you browse. You can also tag websites. Net Notes works with Mozilla Weave if you need to access your notes from multiple computers.
  4. i-Lighter
    You can highlight and save information from any website while you’re browsing with i-Lighter. You can also add notes to your i-Lighted information, as well as email it or send the information to be posted to your blog or Twitter account. Your notes are saved in a notebook on your computer — but they’re also synchronized to the iLighter website. You can log in to the site from any computer.
  5. Clipmarks
    For those browsers interested in sharing what they find with others, Clipmarks provides a tool to select clips of text, images and video and share them with friends. You can easily syndicate your finds to a whole list of sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Digg. You can also easily review your past clips and use them as references through Clipmarks’ website.
  6. UberNote
    If you can think of a way to send notes to UberNote, it can handle it. You can clip material while browsing, email, IM, text message or even visit the UberNote sites to add notes to the information you have saved. You can organize your notes, tag them and even add checkboxes if you want to turn a note into some sort of task list. You can drag and drop information between notes in order to manage them.
  7. iLeonardo
    iLeonardo treats research as a social concern. You can create a notebook on iLeonardo on a particular topic, collecting information online. You can also access other people’s notebooks. It may not necessarily take the place of Google Notebook — I’m pretty sure my notes on some subjects are cryptic — but it’s a pretty cool tool. You can keep notebooks private if you like the interface but don’t want to share a particular project. iLeonardo does allow you to follow fellow notetakers and receive the information they find on a particular topic.
  8. Zotero
    Another Firefox extension, Zotero started life as a citation management tool targeted towards academic researchers. However, it offers notetaking tools, as well as a way to save files to your notebook. If you do a lot of writing in Microsoft Word or Open Office, Zotero might be the tool for you — it’s integrated with both word processing software to allow you to easily move your notes over, as well as several blogging options. Zotero’s interface is also available in more than 30 languages.

I’ve been relying on Google Notebook as a catch-all for blog post ideas — being able to just highlight information and save it is a great tool for a blogger.

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In replacing it, though, I’m starting to lean towards Evernote. I’ve found it handles pretty much everything I want, especially with the voice recording feature. I’m planning to keep trying things out for a while yet — I’m sticking with Google Notebook until the Firefox extension quits working — and if you have any recommendations that I missed when I put together this list, I’d love to hear them — just leave a comment!

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