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Buildjet or Thingjet?

Words have meanings, angles and life of their own. Without the words we will not be able to conceptualize the meanings or understand a process. In realm of industry when we baptize a certain process or concept with a name we are infusing soul to it.

Today if you look for the words print or inkjet in Internet your search results might surprise you because these words have acquired new meanings that apparently have nothing to do with printing process as we know it. Print whether conventional or digital has always been associated with ink and paper (or other media).

Inkjet printing is also a non contact printing process which involves ink and media. But in our new world print is becoming a manufacturing process and ink means anything that you can deposit layer by layer on any surface or on itself through a jetting system. When the successive materials are laid down a 3D shape is formed. This new process is also called 3D printing or additive manufacturing. 3D printing had already been used widely within the industry.

Digital and conventional press manufacturers are using the term 3D printing as a PR stunt to market their machines. What they call 3D printing is actually the effect that spot varnishing creates by highlighting parts of a printed sheet, giving it a third dimension. Lenticular printing has also been known as 3D printing.

Living in a printed world

Today you can spot the word print in unusual sentences such as “printing a complex titanium landing-gear bracket” or the “researchers at Filton have a much bigger ambition: to print the entire wing of an airliner.” The word print used in these sentences is referring to a manufacturing process not printing a logo or painting wing of an airplane.

On the other hand 3D printing is becoming very popular. People use it to manufacture everything from medical implants to jewelry and even guns.

3D printing has been around for more than two decades. But so far it has been mostly used for prototyping. However machines production speed has been increased considerably and new materials are emerging every day. Objet one of the leading manufacturers of 3D printers recently introduced 16 new Rigid Black and Rubber-like Digital Materials for 3D printers. The price of 3D printers has come down considerably as well and digital file for printing 3D objects are widely available in Internet.

During the Mobile World Congress which was held in Barcelona Nokia’s 3D printing demonstration impressed everyone. Nokia joined forces with MakerBot to showcase the 3D printing feature of the Nokia Lumia 820. The demonstration involved two MakerBot 3D printers which were used to produce cases for Nokia’s smartphone. Nokia also is sharing the digital files with its customers so they can print their own mobile phone case. The company also released the specification for the materials to be used for the printing process.

Inkjet or Buildjet?

Additive manufacturing will definitely change our way of lives in future. Just imagine a day when you can print everything from bike to your very own grandfather clock in the comfort of your home. However I believe the term “additive manufacturing” is also somehow ambiguous and hard to digest.

If 3D printing is to become a household technology it needs a household name as well. We have to come up with words that while maintain the spirit of a printing process point to the manufacturing capabilities of the new concept as well.

So how about Thingjet or Buildjet? The term additive manufacturing clearly underlines the successive accumulation of layers of material and 3D printing also highlights that a printing process is involved. While the word buildjet encompasses both implications and has more weight, thingjet is more homey, entertaining and fun. Now which one do you prefer?

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