When product designers at ChaseDesign hit the “print” button, their work often emerges in three dimensions. Their “printed” models – made of a durable, production-grade thermoplastic – can then be drilled, sanded and painted to create prototypes.
The benefits are obvious. Designers and clients can quickly see an idea become reality; inspect it from every angle, hold and handle it, apply different finishes, and determine how the design interacts with other elements.
The “ink” in the firm’s Dimension printer is thermoplastic extruded in a fine thread and laid down following the designer’s 3D CAD model. Models are printed, or “grown,” from the bottom up. Each precisely deposited layer of plastic is 1/100″ in thickness.
n a matter of hours, the printer can produce large, functional, durable models up to 10″ x 10″ x 12″ for evaluation and testing under real-world conditions.
While ChaseDesign uses the 3D printer for rapid prototyping, the technology has fascinating potential in other fields. Reconstructing fossils in paleontology, reconstructing bones and body parts in forensic pathology, replicating ancient artifacts and creating original works of art are just a few of them.
The British magazine, The Economist, noted in February of this year, “Just as nobody could have predicted the impact of the steam engine in 1750—or the printing press in 1450, or the transistor in 1950—it is impossible to foresee the long-term impact of 3D printing. But the technology is coming, and it is likely to disrupt every field it touches.”
For now, this disruptive technology is of great benefit to designers and clients at ChaseDesign, and we will be watching its future with real interest.