Rapid and versatile manufacturing technology
3D printing is a process of making solid objects from computer-aided design (CAD) models or 3D scans. It belongs to the additive manufacturing family of technologies, where the material is usually added layer by layer to create objects, which can be as diverse as children's toys or artificial organs.
The role of international standards
International standards are needed for the development of 3D printing from the hardware to the processes and information technology. ISO/IEC JTC 1, the joint technical committee of IEC and ISO produces international standards for information and communication technologies for business and consumer applications. Working Group 12 takes care of 3D printing and scanning and develops foundational standards upon which other standards can be developed. It also identifies gaps and opportunities in 3D printing and scanning standardization, as well as developing and maintaining liaisons with all relevant IEC and ISO committees and external organizations with interests in 3D printing and scanning.
In addition, a number of IEC technical committees and subcommittees work on identifying, developing and coordinating international standards for the electric and electronic components that are installed in the 3D printers being used in additive and subtractive manufacturing processes.
Among many other relevant parts and components are switches and relays covered by TC 17: Switchgear and controlgear, TC 121: Switchgear and controlgear and their assemblies for low voltage; servo and stepper motors used to move the extrusion head or the sintering laser by TC 2: Rotating machinery, and power supplies by TC 96: Transformers, reactors, power supply units, and combinations.
Most important are the different types of lasers used for sintering metals and polymers. TC 76: Optical radiation safety and laser equipment, is the leading body on laser standardization, including the high-power lasers used in industrial and research applications. Its work is essential to 3D printing.