In a fairly short time, the process of 3D printing has gone from being a sci-fi fantasy operation to becoming a thoroughly practical commercial manufacturing process. In fact, it is now possible for members of the general public to acquire a 3D printer. But even if you were given one, what could you do with it? Read on to answer that, and a number of other related questions.
What is 3D printing?
Three-dimensional (3D) printing is a procedure which builds a real-life three-dimensional object based on a previously provided CAD (computer-aided design) model. Most often this procedure involves adding a succession of layers of material. Known as additive manufacturing, this process, therefore, avoids conventional manufacturing practices such as casting and forging, or machining. The most important difference here is that machining techniques tend to be subtractional – i.e. they typically remove material to shape and create an object. Casting and forging techniques, on the other hand, simply pour material into a pre-shaped mould and then uses further pressing, heating or hammering to produce the final shape of the object.
For practical purposes, the description ‘3D printing’ can be applied to a range of processing which can variously join or solidify the materials. Nevertheless, these elements (for example, combining powder grains and certain liquid molecules) are still applied using progressive layering techniques. During the early pioneering days of 3D printing, the technique was only ever envisaged as a practical proposition for the preparation of prototypes. These were typically created as an affordable way to explore certain object functionalities before committing to larger-scale manufacturing using the ‘final’ materials.
Modern 3D printing
In today’s more nuanced manufacturing environment, 3D printing’s benefits such as precision control and absolute repeatability, as well as the expanding range of raw materials which can now be used, meaning that it is rapidly gaining acceptance as a mainstream manufacturing technique. A major benefit of the procedure is that 3D can easily render extremely complex geometric shapes. Nevertheless, before any 3D process can be initiated, it is still necessary to first generate a digital model via a CAD software file.
Using additive manufacturing, the printing of a 3D model may take anything from just an hour or two up to a number of days. The production time will depend on precisely what methods are employed, as well as upon the size of the model and the level of detail which is the finished model will require. At present, there is much work being done to produce and refine machines which can speed up the printing process. This includes efforts to develop techniques which will make it possible to print multiple versions of the object simultaneously.
Casino accessories you could 3D-print
So if you had a 3D printer of your own, what casino accessories would you want to try and create?
Start simple with some poker chips
Poker chips would no doubt be a popular choice. You could perhaps design your own personal version of poker chips – maybe to use at parties or home table games organised with your friends. Of course, you would also have to decide whether to use expensive materials to create a luxury gaming atmosphere, or whether to go for a more budget-friendly simulation. And if it was more a matter of making your own practice poker sessions more realistic, you could always replicate the chips used at your favourite online casino tables.
Roll the dice… out of the 3D printer
How cool would it be to be able to produce your own custom-made set of dice? That would certainly be a signature statement. You could choose your own colours – for instance, what about an eye-catching, ultra-personal design such as white dots on a black background? One possible advantage of using 3D printing to create your set of dice would be the ability to simulate natural materials such as wood or ivory. That would make you a fully paid-up ‘sustainable’ gambler for sure!
Go big with a roulette table
If you’re looking for a real 3D printing challenge, what about a roulette table? Roulette is surely the undisputed king of online casino table games, so to design your own version of a roulette table would give you the chance to inject a new level of realism into your own home roulette sessions.