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3D Printing: Home

What is additive manufacturing?

3D printing is a process that appeared in the late 1980s. It is referred to as “additive manufacturing”, since objects are created by adding layer-upon-layer of material, as opposed to more traditional manufacturing processes referred to as “subtractive”. There are several different methods available and the list keeps getting longer, but the basic principle remains. Using a three-dimensional digital model and some raw material, a computer-assisted print head gradually creates the object until it reaches its final form.

Examples of material-specific processes include:

  • melting plastic and formatting it into a thin filament through an extrusion nozzle (Fused Filament Fabrication)
  • solidifying liquid photopolymer using a UV laser beam (Stereolithography), a projector (Digital Light Processing), or jetting it through a nozzle into tiny droplets that are then hardened with UV curable ink (Inkjet)
  • fusing powder particles (plastic, ceramic, glass, metal, etc.) together using a high-power laser beam (Selective Laser Sintering)
  • successively gluing together sheets (of paper, plastic, metal or composites) that are laminated and cut, either by a laser beam or a very fine knife (Laminated Object Manufacturing).

Z Corporation - ZPrinter - 3D-printed toy wheel
The result of 3D selective laser sintering

Possible applications

Additive manufacturing offers several advantages. It allows the creation of unique, ready-made parts or complex geometric forms at low cost and made to measure. It even allows producing geometric shapes otherwise impossible to create with other processes, like those including double walls, hollow parts, undercuts, etc.

3D printing opens the door to new manufacturing possibilities and offers the option to print using a wide range of materials, including organic tissue and even chocolate!


3D Printing with Chocolate

However, the manufacturing applications of 3D printing are limited by the slowness of current methods and the mechanical properties of the objects produced, which are still inferior to parts created using traditional methods.

Other than the manufacturing of models and prototypes, here are a few fields in which 3D printing is gaining popularity:

  • Jewelry and art
  • Dental, surgical or orthopaedic prostheses
  • Car or airplane parts
  • High precision electronics
  • Military applications
  • Construction
  • Biology
  • Archaeology
  • Fashion
  • And much, much more...

This technology will soon revolutionize the way we design, produce, and use everyday objects!

3D Printing at the Library

Did you know? Your library offers low-cost 3D printing services!

Loyal to our mission to support teaching and research, we want to make this innovative technology accessible for its high educational and social potential.

Visit the 3D Printing page for more information.

Off-Campus Access to Documents

If you are a member (student, professor, researcher, employee, etc.) of the Polytechnique Montréal community, you can access all of the Library's paid electronic resources from off-campus. You just need to configure your browser's proxy server settings.

Need some help?


Send your questions to the Library Computer Technicians.