It may seem the stuff of science fiction. But three-dimensional printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is part of the here and now in classrooms and manufacturers, and its use is finding favor across an increasing number of fields, The Gazette reports. 3D printing is a process of building objects from the bottom up. A computer takes a digital model — or CAD drawing — and transfers the information to a printer that starts with the bottom layer to build a structure in 3D, adding thin layer upon thin layer until the object is created. “It’s like constructing a building floor by floor,” explained Ibrahim Ozbolat, assistant professor of mechanical and industrial engineering at the University of Iowa. “You can build any complex shape you want.” At the university, 3D printing technology is being integrated into student learning in a number of ways.