Overview: 3D Printing and Manufacturing

As the Mimeo Connect Cloud Print API Evangelist, I get asked why I would be an evangelist for technology in a dying industry. Print and Publishing.

My primary argument is: Through new technology such as cloud computing, social media, and mobile the print and publishing industry will be redefined. We won't even recognize it as the old beast.

One example of this is Shapeways. Shapeways turns 3D designs and drawings to tangible products through 3D printing. You can choose from their pre-defined creators to build proven products, partner with other designers to create a product or upload your own designs to the Shapeways platform.

Shapeways will check your 3D model that you upload to make sure it can be printed properly before sending to their production facility.

Once in production, the 3D model in your digital file will be printed layer by layer using one of four 3D printing machines & technologies:

  • Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) - SLS is an additive manufacturing technique that uses a high power laser to fuse small particles of plastic, metal, ceramic, or glass powders into a mass that has a desired 3-dimensional shape.
  • Stereolithography (SLA) - Stereolithography is an additive manufacturing process using a vat of liquid UV-curable photopolymer "resin" and a UV laser to build parts a layer at a time. On each layer, the laser beam traces a part cross-section pattern on the surface of the liquid resin.
  • Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) - FDM works on an "additive" principle by laying down material in layers. A plastic filament or metal wire is unwound from a coil and supplies material to an extrusion nozzle which can turn on and off the flow.
  • Laminate Object Manufacturing (LOM) - LOM is a rapid prototyping system that layers adhesive-coated paper, plastic, or metal laminates are successively glued together and cut to shape with a knife or laser cutter.

Plastic objects are printed and delivered in 10 working days, and metal objects take 14 working days to arrive.

Cloud print Application Programming Interfaces (API) will allow web and mobile applications to interface with new print and manufacturing technology spanning facilities world wide.

Cloud print and manufacturing APIs will give existing publishing and manufacturing industries new life, and invent entirely new forms of printing, prototyping, and manufacturing we haven't even conceived.