South African Journal of Industrial Engineering
versión On-line ISSN 2224-7890
versión impresa ISSN 1012-277X
DIMITROV, D.; SCHREVE, K.; DE BEER, N. y CHRISTIANE, P.. Three dimensional printing in the South African industrial environment. S. Afr. J. Ind. Eng. [online]. 2008, vol.19, n.1, pp.195-213. ISSN 2224-7890.
The current development of the rapid prototyping industry in South Africa is characterised by the strong dominance and fast growth in sales of three dimensional printers. Although it reflects the international trend, it seems that the industrial community lacks a clear appreciation of the real strength of this technology, especially with respect to the large variety of devices available today on the market. This paper surveys the current state and capabilities of three dimensional printing (3DP). Based on its technical background - the ink-jet printing known from the printer and plotter industry - a classification structure is developed and proposed. Different printing techniques and process concepts, together with their advantages and limitations, are described and analysed. Typical examples from three completely different application areas - manufacturing, medicine, and architecture - are presented and discussed. Some basic considerations for an informed selection of the right technology for a particular application are then presented.