Technology has reached a new dimension, and so does safety.
That dimension is the third, as in three dimensions, or 3D. The 3D movie and TV technology has been around for decades, and has continually been refined so that we don’t need those dopey red-and-blue paper glasses to watch a 3D movie on in the theater or at home anymore.
The technology has also evolved in other areas besides on film, and that has to do with printing. A relatively new phenomenon is the 3D printer, which does not use paper. Technology has now come to allow virtually any object to be copied and “printed” to look and operate just like the original. (A working pistol was created from a 3D printer in the last year or two, for example. Yes, working. As in, firing bullets and everything.)
Just like the early mainframe computers, early-model 3D printers are very large, complex machines that take up entire rooms and of course are prohibitively expensive. There are a variety of sizes and models available now, however, to fit the desired size of the objects to be printed (a desktop version is above). While the technology is still very new, it has started to gain some worldwide traction, so there is a push to start developing some universal technical standards for the burgeoning 3D printing industry. These standards are to be in place to have a uniform basis for operating and using 3D printers or all sizes and shapes.
With that in mind, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) partnered with ASTM International recently to release what is called the Additive Manufacturing Standards Development Structure. The purpose of the framework, generally, is to allow those in the “additive manufacturing” area (3D printing, primarily) around the world to be able to collaborate in an effective way, which should allow for additional innovation in this area to occur more rapidly and efficiently.
Everyone will speak with one language, in other words.
According to ISO officials, the framework should accomplish five goals:
- Recognize the gaps and needs in standards for the industry.
- Cover the gaps and needs without having overlaps that may confuse.
- Make sure all the standards that are developed are cohesive with each other.
- Establish priorities in the various areas of this industry.
- Establish standards that are easily accepted and user-friendly, and thus can be more readily adopted and utilized in the industry.
The framework allows for standards to be developed at three levels – general standards, standards for categories of materials used, and more specific standards for specific materials or tasks. Ther is a complementary brochure to go along with the framework to develop further explanations. and background.