Mains Practice Question


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What is 3D printing and how is it done? Explain with an example how it promises to transform different sectors.
A Simple Introduction about 3D Printing

3D printing is a manufacturing method that utilizes computer-generated designs to produce three-dimensional objects layer by layer. It operates on an additive principle, gradually building up layers of materials such as plastic, composites, or bio-materials to form objects of various shapes, sizes, rigidity, and colours.

It is the central part of the answer and one should understand the demand of the question to provide rich content.

3D printing is transforming manufacturing across industries, and even space exploration isn't immune to its potential. 

Simplified Printing Process

  • User-Friendly Approach: 3D printing offers a relatively straightforward process. With a 3D model designed using Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software and a connected 3D printer, users can bring their ideas to life. The printer handles the intricate task of constructing the object layer by layer.
  • Additive Manufacturing: In contrast to traditional subtractive manufacturing techniques that remove material to create an object, 3D printing works additively. It builds the desired form by depositing material layer upon layer.

ISRO's Success Story

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) exemplifies the exciting possibilities of 3D printing in space exploration:

  • Engine Revamp: ISRO successfully 3D printed a liquid rocket engine, the PS4, used in the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle's (PSLV) fourth stage.
  • Benefits of 3D Printing: This innovative approach offered significant advantages:
    • Part Consolidation: The engine design was transformed from 14 separate parts into a single, unified piece.
    • Efficiency Boost: 3D printing eliminated the need for 19 weld joints, saving a remarkable 97% of raw materials.
    • Time Savings: Production time was reduced by a staggering 60%.

ISRO's achievement demonstrates the immense potential of 3D printing to revolutionize space exploration by streamlining engine design, reducing production times, and minimizing resource requirements.

The ending of the answer should be on a positive note and it should have a forward-looking approach.

3D printing finds application across a diverse array of industries, including healthcare, automobile, and aerospace. During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the healthcare sector extensively leveraged 3D printers to manufacture crucial medical equipment such as swabs, face shields, masks, and components for ventilator repairs. Last year saw the inauguration of India’s maiden 3D-printed post office, marking a significant milestone in the adoption of this innovative technology.


Other Points to Consider 

Types of 3D printing

Advantages and challenges of 3D printing


Previous Year Questions

1. How does the 3D printing technology work? List out the advantages and disadvantages of the technology. (UPSC CSE Mains 2013)


21-May 2024