Introduction to 3D Printers

Published  July 11, 2015   0
What is a 3D Printer?

3D printing is a revolutionary technology that have created a buzz recently because of their ingenious concept that has been utilised in their invention, and the huge potential to impact the current manufacturing process. Being an incomparable device that is utilised to craft a three dimensional object from a digital file; 3D printers have created marvels in the digital world of printers. The practice of making a three dimensional entity makes the use of the chemical approach and additive processes where an object is manufactured by organizing a range its coatings one over the other until the intact object is shaped. Each of these coatings is very finely sliced horizontal piece of a final object that is required to be made by the printer.


What is a 3D printer?

3D printers are used to make three dimensional objects and entities by printing. This process is also called additive manufacturing process. In these printers, consecutive films and layers of a particular material are laid down under the computer control. The objects that are created in these printers can be of any shapes, sizes or geometry. The printers successively set down the material onto a powder bed that has inkjet printer heads attached to it. Although they are generally referred to as 3D printers or 3D printing machines, technical standards refer to these devices as additive manufacturing process.


How do 3D printers work?

These printers first formulate the fundamental design of the object that you desire to form. This plan is made through a CAD file which applies 3D modelling program which is used to make a new project or it can also use 3D scanner which duplicates the exact model of the object and also builds a 3D digital file of the object. These scanners put together different techniques for making 3D models. For making a digital file for printing, the software used in 3D modelling splits the final model into millions of layers. When these slices are uploaded in the printer, a final object can be created by layering one above the other. The 3D printer studies every 2D slice of the image and crafts a final object, making a three dimensional model of the 


This video explains the complete process of 3D printing.



Technology used in the 3D printers

Different types of 3D printers make use of different technologies. There are many ways that are available for printing that merely differs in the manner by which the layers are built to complete an absolute entity. While some of the technologies use the process of melting to produce the layers for which they utilise the process of either selective layering or fused deposition. One of the most widely used technologies is Stereo lithography. It also makes use of other technologies like Vat photo polymerisation, material jetting, sheet lamination, powder bed fusion and many more.


3D Modelling

The printable 3D models can be shaped using CAD package or 3D scanner that uses plain digital camera and photogrammetric software. 3D scanning procedure evaluates and saves digital data and makes it materialize as a shape of a real object. Based on this technique, three dimensional models can be produced. Irrespective of the 3D modelling software used, this 3D model gets converted into .STL or .OBJ format to allow the software that prints the object to make it readable.


The file must be examined for multiple errors before printing a 3D model from an STL file. This step is called fix up. STL files can have many errors that are generated from the process of 3D scanning and these errors are first needed to be fixed before slicing the layers of the file. After it’s done, the .STL file needs to be developed by the software that translates the model into multiple thin layers and converts into a file that has specific instructions labeled to it. The 3D printer tracks this file and the directions affixed to it and it lays down multiple layers of liquid, powder or paper material to craft the model from series of cross section. There are several materials that can be applied via the print nozzle like plastic, sand, metal or sometimes even chocolate. These layers which correspond to various cross sections of the CAD model are then connected or merged automatically to give them a final shape.


Applications of 3D printers

3D printing finds many applications in various sectors of industries from automotive to aerospace and aviation to bio-printing and healthcare instruments. 3D printing can also be of great use in creating objects of day to day use, and personal projects.


The most brilliant advantage of these printers is they can craft almost any shape and geometry of any entity. Well, the time taken to print the 3D model of any object largely depends only upon the size and structure of the object to be printed. It can take several hours to even days to print any entity. It also depends upon the method that has been used by the printer and how complex the model is. The technology of additive system can deduct your time from being wasted and help to print the object in few hours.


3D Printing Services

3D printers are expensive and not everyone can afford it for their individual purposes, and so there are various companies and firms that offer 3D printing services.  There are also online 3D printing services which deliver 3D printing services at economical price range and can print and deliver any object from a digital file that you upload to their website. 

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