3D printing is a manufacturing process in which 3-dimensional objects are built up by depositing and fusing 2-dimensional layers of cured photopolymers, extruded thermoplastics, welded metals, or fused powders.
ISO/ASTM 52900, created in 2015 to standardize the terminology around 3D Printing, defines it as ‘the process of joining materials to make parts from 3D model data, usually layer upon layer, as opposed to subtractive manufacturing and formative manufacturing methodologies’.
In layman’s terms, it’s a new way of manufacturing things that’s quite different from how things have ‘traditionally’ been made. It’s typically very fast, with low fixed setup costs, and can create much more complex geometries than were previously possible, with an ever-expanding list of materials. It has been used extensively in the engineering industry, particularly for prototyping and creating lightweight geometries, as well as in medicine, education, architecture, and entertainment.