You probably wouldn’t be at all surprised to hear that the aviation industry use the latest rapid prototyping service machinery in their designing, however what this means to people unconnected with the aviation or other related industries is very limited. Rapid prototyping services of any type mean very little to most people and 3D printing seems like something incredibly futuristic to most people. Rapid prototyping servicesRa though could soon be something that people find they have access to themselves though: eventually in their homes and certainly from increasing numbers of local businesses offering 3D print services in the same way a copy shop offers 2D printing.
Filton near Bristol in England is where many of Europe’s biggest aviation companies have operations including BAE Systems, Airbus and Rolls Royce. One of the companies at Filton use 3D printing for Rapid Prototyping Services but most of the parts they make mean very little to most people: they therefore decided to come up with a public demonstration of what their equipment could do that would mean something to more people. They chose to make a pushbike almost entirely using their 3D printing Rapid prototyping service machinery and the process was shown as a program on the BBC in the UK.
The relative simplicity of a bicycle meant that understanding the process was simple for viewers yet with moving parts including ball bearings it was complicated enough for them to show just what a 3D printer can do.
The process of designing the bike was done from scratch and this meant that some of the parts were printed and then didn’t work as they should have done, including wheel bearings that were too loose. This was only a small setback though as the television program showed that with 3D printing a rapid prototyping service can simply change the design and click the print button again. In fact all of the hard work, effort and problems in the design process were down to design and as the BBC program showed it was the ease of running off parts one at a time on the 3D printer that made it simple to redesign.
The program ended with a prototype bike created and ridden thereby showing a practical use for 3D Printing potentially even beyond rapid prototyping services. The 3D printer creates products that are actually usable and so custom designs can be made a reality using 3D printing as well. As well as the printer at Finton made by ZCorp another small enterprise or even home use version of a 3D printer was shown on the BBC program made by a UK based company and available at a price similar to that of a high end laser printer.
The BBC program has ended up on Youtube where there are already dozens of comments from people discussing 3D printing and the future uses of it; perhaps people now are starting to understand how 3D printing could revolutionize their worlds, the way they consume and even the fact they could potentially become freelance home based designers.