Once the high-tech plaything of car and aerospace companies, 3D printing is becoming more affordable and mainstream.
Dr Martin Leary from the School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering explains how 3D printing works in a short video, as part of RMIT's "How Things Work" YouTube series.
Dr Leary says 3D printers are able to print complex layers to form moving parts - just like King Kong - complete with hinges and wheels as one object.
3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is the process where layer upon layer of material is built up to make a three-dimensional object from a digital model.
A diverse range of materials such as plastics, metals, paper and ceramics can be used for 3D printing. As each layer is printed, it sticks to the previous one to create a cohesive final shape.
"You could build a bicycle with handlebars, frame, wheels readily assembled without the need for any tools. You just have to leave the gaps in the right spots," Dr Leary says.
It is not only cutting-edge theatre companies using 3D printing; the technology is being widely embraced by smaller enterprises across a variety of industries such as high end manufacture where is it used for rapid prototyping and research - giving designers and concept developers the flexibility to produce parts and models on demand.
It has also been a game changer for the healthcare industries which can now quickly create customised, one-off pieces.
"It is being used to make medical parts such as custom hearing aids and braces and even to reproduce body parts like customised hip implants or prosthetic hands in exact proportions to fit the patient" Dr Leary said.
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