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2D vs 3D Printing

Printing technology has been around for many years and it has been useful in different industries. When you mention the word printing, many people would right away think about the traditional 2D printer. This is what people have known for decades, but with new technology, printing has gone a step further and ensured the introduction of 3D printing, which many regard as a revolutionary printing technology that is transforming different industries including manufacturing. The differences between 2D and 3D printing are worlds apart and you can tell this from the things you could do with both. To help you understand how these two are different, here are highlights of each with focus on how they function.

Difference in How it Works

The first distinction that you will note between 2D and 3D printing is how they work. The functioning of regular printers includes scanning of an image then using the appropriate ink to draw the image on a flat surface like on an A4 sheet. Companies like Clash Graphics usually use 2D technology that is widely applied in the printing of event calendars, brochures, banners, t-shirts, business cards, hang tags, and flyers.

On the other hand, a 3D printer needs a few more steps to complete its goal. After you identified the image that is supposed to be replicated, you have to ensure the image has been rendered in 3D format. This process needs some skill that could not be in your capacity at that moment, considering this is a technology that is not widely applied. With 3D printing, you have to use software to convert a 2D image to 3D format, which the machine uses while replicating the solid product you have designed.

Printing versus Manufacturing

In essence, the key difference between 2D and 3D printing is the aspect of manufacturing. For centuries, 2D printing has been the technology that has been relied on for printing and this has made printing accessible to everyone. But 3D printers have come as a new form of printing that has found use in manufacturing industries.

This technology is used in the creation of miniature models that are ideal for testing and development purposes. It reduces the cost of the development because it comes as a suitable alternative to regular modeling, and 3D printing is also fast. You can save time and money by using 3D printing to create products. It has become a reliable solution for manufacturing of different products including toys and even printing cheap houses.

Materials and Methods

Another way you can distinguish between a regular printer and 3D printing is by considering the materials and methods used in the printing process. 2D printing uses toner or ink while printing on paper or such a surface. The ink is needed to convey the image to a hard copy an image that is stored on a computer.

You don’t need to use any ink in 3D printing. These printers require different types of raw material, mainly because they are not merely used in creating 2 dimensional representation of the image, but an actual copy of the render. Different types of materials could be used including concrete, plastic, or metals for molding the design to a real product.

Entry Costs

As you know, many people own traditional printers in their homes. These are affordable to acquire and you can find different sizes for printing in different capacities. Although some 2D printers used for printing campaign materials may appear costly, the investment requirement for such a printer cannot be compared with what you would pay to acquire a 3D printer. To buy a 3D printer, you might need to invest millions of dollars, because this is a machine that could be used to print things like airplane wings and houses.

3D printing technology is capable of doing virtually everything you could think of making. Maintenance requirement is also a factor that would discourage someone from investing in a 3D printer, because the parts you need to keep it functional are costly. The traditional printer is easy to run and does not require as much to keep it working. However, you cannot also do a lot with the printer as it can only print on flat surfaces.

Medical Use

Medical experts have also cited the use of 3D technology as an important pivot in saving lives. It can be used in human tissue engineering where body parts can be printed to make a difference in situations that threaten a patient’s life. These possibilities about the technology have inspired different businesses to bet on it. Compared to 2D printing, the technology is much more meaningful and capable of unlocking solutions that different industries have strived to achieve for many years.

Easier Designs

The 3D printing technology has continued to mature and this has come with the ease of technology use. Engineers trained on design with focus on 3D have been useful in creating products, and different apps are already out that people can use to design products for 3D printing. The whole concept is backed by technology and this has been a big reason why it is gradually becoming friendly to even those who don’t have technical skills. However, from the perspective of many people, 2D printing remains the easier option as you can quickly design something using popular design software like Photoshop the print it.

Borderless Access

Businesses are finding it more convenient to submit items over the internet instead of through physical deliveries. The presence of 3D printing technology allows firms to design drawings using software like CAD, and this is sent to the client who the prints the final product on their end, regardless of where they are located. For example, if someone in England needs a part of a forklift, they can get the blueprint of the part online then print it.

Technology has played a key role in enhancing the way people relay their imagination. One way this has been possible is through printing, which has kept on improving for centuries. Among recent inventions in printing is 3D printing, which has come as a revolutionary contribution to different industries. It rivals 2D printing in many ways and comes with great benefits that have found industrial application.


This is a guest post to 3D Engineer on 2D vs. 3D printing.

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