Innovations in Sciences, IT, Computers, Robotics and Nanotechnology

What is 3D Printing and How does it Work?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: 3D Printing; PS4 Engine

Why in the news?

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully tested a liquid rocket engine made with the help of additive manufacturing technology — commonly known as 3D printing.

3D Printed PS4 Engine

  • The technology helped ISRO bring down the number of parts in the engine from 14 to a single piece.
  • ISRO was able to eliminate 19 weld joints and saved 97% of raw material.
  • It also reduced the overall production time by 60%.

What is 3D printing?

  • 3D printing is a process that uses computer-created design to make three-dimensional objects layer by layer.
  • It is an additive process, in which layers of a material like plastic, composites or bio-materials are built up to construct objects that range in shape, size, rigidity, and colour.
  • Common 3D Printing materials include Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS), Carbon Fiber Filaments, Conductive Filaments, Metal Filaments etc.

How is 3D printing done?

  • To carry out 3D printing, one needs a personal computer connected to a 3D printer.
  • All they need to do is design a 3D model of the required object on computer-aid design (CAD) software and press ‘print’.
  • The 3D printer does the rest of the job.
  • 3D printers construct the desired object by using a layering method, which is the complete opposite of the subtractive manufacturing processes.

Benefits offered:

3D printing offers several key advantages over traditional manufacturing, including:

  • Complexity without Extra Cost: Allows for intricate designs without increasing production costs.
  • Rapid Prototyping: Speeds up the development process by quickly producing prototypes from digital designs.
  • Customization: Ideal for producing customized or bespoke items in small quantities.
  • Reduced Waste: Generates minimal waste compared to traditional subtractive methods, making it more sustainable.
  • Cost-Effective for Low Volumes: Avoids the need for expensive tooling and molds, beneficial for small production runs.


[2018] “3D printing” has applications in which of the following?

  1. Preparation of confectionery items
  2. Manufacture of bionic ears
  3. Automotive industry
  4. Reconstructive surgeries
  5. Data processing technologies

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1, 3 and 4 only

(b) 2, 3 and 5 only

(c) 1 and 4 only

(d) 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

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