What Is 3D Printing and How Does It Work?

What Is 3D Printing?

What Is 3D Printing and How Does It Work?  3d printing has exploded in popularity over the past few years.  If your customers are hardly impressed by the 3D visuals that you’ve emailed over, the next best thing is to personally deliver a 3D printed version of the design itself. But before you hastily bought a unit for your business, it helps to know how does 3D printing works.

Basics Of 3D Printing

3D printing is a form of an additive manufacturing process that builds three-dimensional objects by layers from the CAD files provided. However, before 2009, 3D printing is also an expensive technology used solely for industrial purposes. That changes when a British university launches the RepRap project, in a bid to make self-replicating 3D printer at a lower cost.

That causes other manufacturers to start developing their own versions of 3D printers. While the earlier versions of desktop 3D printers produce less convincing quality than conventional prototyping methods. However, it doesn’t stop enthusiasts to build and test 3D printers on their own. Eventually, 3D printing technologies advanced rapidly, and today’s 3D printer can also produce impressive objects with high accuracy.

So, how does 3D printing work?

In simple terms, 3D printing involves laying out layers of the 2-dimensional section of the object. All 3D printing starts with a completed design file, usually in CAD format is then translated into STL or standard tessellation language format. The STL file that contains the triangulated surfaces and vertices is so as then digitally sliced into hundreds or thousands of layers.

The 3D printers derived the information from the multiple layers so as to print the desired object from materials. The printing process can take hours so as it depends on the complexity of the design, the number of layers as well as on the materials used. With most decent 3D printers, the end results so as is usually an astonishing piece of representation of the 3D model.

Check out this video from Mashable to get a better idea of how 3D printing works.
2018 09 26 17h42 52

Materials Used In 3D Printing

The common perception about 3D printing is that you’re limited to creating objects with plastics. Your perceptions of 3D printing will shift as you realized that there are more to the materials used in 3D printing than plastics.

1. Metal

This includes titanium, bronze, silver, gold and stainless steel. You can start printing your own jewelry for the next ball night with the 3D printers that support direct metal laser sintering. Of course, this will require investing in expensive 3D printers powered by DMLS technology.

2. Ceramic

Ceramic printing is great when you want to turn animes into collectibles. Food safe ceramics also made good materials for printing cups and plates.

3. Chocolate

This is a dream come true for chocolate lovers. You can create your own unique chocolate gifts for Valentines with heartfelt messages printed on top.

4. Bone Line Material

Not your usual 3D printing material, bone-like implants can now be printed with calcium phosphate and a defined porosity.

5. Conductive Ink

An element that replaces the copper used in traditional PCB manufacturing. Electronics designers are able to print PCB right in their office.

These are merely some 3D printing materials from an exhaustive list that would keep growing as 3D printers continue to evolve.

The Different Types Of 3D Printing Technologies

What Is 3D Printing and How Does It Work - Technologies
Learn the right 3D printing technology for your needs

While the general concept of 3D printing is the same, the underlying may differ. We usually prefer these 3D printer technologies

1. FDM

A commonly used method in desktop printers, the FDM or Fused Deposition Modelling involves feeding plastic filaments into the 3D printer nozzle. The heat of the nozzle melts the filament. It is then extruded accordingly to the specific position indicated by the files. The printed layers cool down quickly. Then the subsequent layers are printed on top of it.

2. SLA

The Stereolithography or SLA method was developed in 1986. It involves the use of liquid resins to create 3D printed objects from the files. It works by submerging the printing base to the bottom of a tank filled with liquid resin where lasers would start forming the layers of the object. SLA 3D printings usually result in smooth surfaces of the object.

3. DLP

This technology is pretty similar to SLA, except that Digital Light Processing uses different sources of lights such as arc lamps.

4. SLS

SLS or Selective Laser Sintering is one of the earliest 3D printing technology. Developed in 1980, it uses the laser beam to sinter, or melt powder materials to form layers of the 3D object.  Most industrial 3D printers are using this technology. The unmelted powder supports the printed object. Hence, you will not need any other 3D base supporter.

5. Material Jetting

This method bears a close resemblance to your desktop inkjet printer. Instead of depositing inks on paper, it jets out tiny particles of liquid photopolymer. These turns solid when they are exposed to UV ray. You can optimize material jetting to print efficiently on multiple similar objects.

How To Create Your 3D Model Files

The thought of printing out your first 3D prototype definitely sounds exciting. But without the right design files generated, your 3D printer would be just another gadget resting idly in your office. There are two options to create the required files.

You can outsource to design firms that would happily send you the 3D files for a certain amount. Or you could use any of these 3D modeling software programs to create the files. If you’re a skilled graphic designer or there’s one in your team, you can start building 3D designs with these software packages.

1. Autodesk TinkerCad

A simple online 3D design app for 3D printing. It features an intuitive GUI where you don’t have to be a designer to start creating your first 3D model. And it’s free.

2. SketchUp

Another easy-to-use online 3D design software that is great if you’re trying to create miniature models for architectural, interior design or engineering.

3. Onshape

Cloud-based CAD application that offers a wide range of tools and libraries for professional designers.

4. SolidWorks

Engineers worldwide have been using this popular 3D design software. One of the preferred tools to design IoT devices.

5. Autodesk Autocad

Industry leaders are also using this professional 3D CAD design suite to create 3D drawings and visualizations.

Of course, there are simpler ways of trying out your newly delivered 3D printers than working on creating new designs. There are various websites that offer a collection of 3D templates that you can download and print right away. Thingiverse is one great website that you should visit.

How 3D Printing Transforms Various Industries

What Is 3D Printing and How Does It Work - Revolutionize
3D printing can revolutionize your business

Like it or not, 3D printing has so as shifted the landscape of how businesses operate. The critics doubted the first desktop 3D printer when it was introduced. They think that it would ever grow beyond printing home-crafted items for hobbyists.

However, the fact that companies in the US are projected to spend an estimated 12 billion dollar by the end of 2018 showed how important 3D printing is in today’s business. Here are how 3D printing is revolutionizing industries across the world.

1. Rapid Prototyping

One of the largest impact 3D printers have for companies is cutting down both the cost and time for prototyping. Instead of spending heavily on molds, 3D printers can quickly create an exact model from the design file. With today’s 3D printers, these printed prototypes boast impressive quality.

2. Rapid Manufacturing

Why stop at prototyping when you can also actually create end products with 3D printers. Some businesses that sell premium gifts are also so as built around 3D printers. Customized mugs or cutlery stands are printed as well as shipped to their customers.

3. Aviation

You should not think that 3D printing is so limited to regular household items. Boeing has actually printed and used titanium parts for their plane. FAA test these parts and then approve them.

4. Architecture

3D printers offer a new way to build miniature scale models of buildings. Instead of cutting down the cost of labor, it allows creating complex shapes of replicas. However, these can be unachievable by conventional model making methods.

5. Medical

One of the greatest breakthroughs so as in 3D printing is how it revolutionize the medical industry. Thousands of patients benefit from customized implants as well as the prosthetics produced by 3D printers. Ongoing research has shown early promises of using the 3D printer to create complex body parts like skin and cartilage.

What Does The Future Of 3D Printing Mean To You?

Whether you’re a business owner hoping to drastically reduce prototyping cost or a product designer looking to impress potential clients, 3D printing is a critical component to your success.

But should you invest in a 3D printer or outsource it to printing firms offering the service?

You’ll need to weigh both options as well as the impact on profitability, productivity and the learning curve for operating the 3D printers. Either way, 3D printing is an essential business technology that you can’t ignore without losing out to your competitors.

 

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Brandon Stapper
Brandon Stapper is an entrepreneur and investor. He is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Nonstop Signs, an industry leading graphic design, print, and sign business with multiple locations throughout the United States. At 20 years old, with no formal education and only a few hundred dollars, Stapper turned a $400 custom decal machine in a garage into an international printing powerhouse focused on helping businesses improve their marketing and branding with everything from retail signage to packaging, to trade show displays.
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