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How Does 3D Printing Technology Work?

3D printing technology is simply an additive manufacturing process, a system of creating a three dimensional products layer-by-layer with the help of a computer created design. 3D printing uses computer-aided design (CAD) to create three-dimensional objects through a layering method.

What is 3D Printing ?

Sometimes described as additive manufacturing, 3D printing involves layering materials, like plastics, composites or bio-materials to create objects that range in shape, size, rigidity and color. It is an advanced technology of producing a three-dimensional digital file of any product, object, in short a physical-solid item. In an additive process an object is developed till the object is created by setting up succeeding layers of material. Each layer may be regarded as an object’s finely cut portion.

Nowadays, a 3D printing is a very popular manufacturing technology and quick prototyping. In recent years, numerous industries around the world have started buzz about 3d printing technology and it’s vast benefits .

It belongs to a class of production technologies known as additive fabrication. This illustrates how an item is created by adding material per layer to the object layer. Throughout the history of additive production, stereo graphics, 3D layering and 3D printing have come to be called, but 3D printing technology is regarded as the most important.


Top Benefits of 3D Printing Technology

3d printing’s cost-effectiveness and rapid production speed with precision are recognized in particular as regards more traditional procedures like prototype manufactured and CNC processing. 3D printing simplifies the development of complicated ideas by designers and, contrasting with traditional procedures, 3D printed elements and prototypes are generally created in hours (instead of days or weeks).

Different Types of 3D Printing Technologies

There are mainly three types of 3D printing technology; sinteringmelting, and stereolithography.

  • Sintering is a technology where the material is heated, but not to the point of melting, to create high resolution items. Metal powder is used for direct metal laser sintering while thermoplastic powders are used for selective laser sintering.
  • Melting methods of 3D printing include powder bed fusion, electron beam melting and direct energy deposition, these use lasers, electric arcs or electron beams to print objects by melting the materials together.
  • Stereolithography utilises photopolymerization to create parts. This technology uses the correct light source to interact with the material in a selective manner to cure and solidify a cross section of the object in thin layers.

Something Abut 3D Printers

3D printers currently on the market can vary widely by size, price, and capability. The best 3D printer for you will depend primarily on your industry and desired applications:

  • Large production 3D printers are well-suited for demanding jobs such as low-volume, custom parts, and large builds. Because of their capacity and precise designs, these printers are most commonly used in the aerospace, automotive, industrial, and consumer goods industries.
  • Desktop printers are smaller 3D printer models used to work on product designs, prototypes and models. They are ideal for office settings.
  • Dental 3D printers are made specifically for the dental industry and used in everything from small dental practices to large labs.
  • Metal 3D printers create quality metal parts. Whether you want a printer for office use or mass production, there is a metal 3D printer model available.

What Materials Can Be Used in a 3D Printing?

The popularity of 3D printing for a variety of applications has resulted in an increasing demand for 3D printing materials. The new biocompatible (ideal for medical, dental and food packing applications) to materials with the antistatic and chemicals resistant properties, suitable for use with prototypes and manufacturing, continues to extend their line with Stratasys materials such as FDM thermoplastics and PolyJet photopolymer materials.

How Does 3D Printers Work?

3D printer belongs to the additive category and utilizes technologies similar to the classic 3D inkjet printer. To produce a three-dimensional item from scratch, it needs a mix of state of the art software, powder like materials and precise devices. Below are some of the major processes in bringing ideas to reality for 3D printers.

3D Modeling Software

3D modeling is the initial stage in any 3D printing process. All items need to be developed in a 3D modeling program to maximize accuracy (and since 3D printers cannot magically predict what you want to print out. For traditional approaches, certain concepts are too complex and detailed. This is where it comes in for this CAD software. Modeling enables printers to personalize their output to the smallest detail. The capacity of the 3D modeling software to provide precise designs is why 3D printing is recognized in many sectors to be a real game changer.

Slicing the Model

It is time to “slice” it after a model is created. Because 3D printers, like humans, cannot conceptualize the concept, engineers need to divide the model into layers in order to make the final result. Slice software scans each model layer and tells the printer how to move to reproduce the layer. Slicers will also say where to “fill” a model to 3D printers. This fill supplies the interior grids and columns of a 3D printed item that aid in shaping and strengthening the thing. Once the model has been sliced the printing is submitted to the 3D printer.

The 3D Printing Process

After a 3D object is modelled and sliced, it is time for the 3D printer to take over. The printer usually works as a standard 3D-free inkjet printer, where the nozzle is reversed and discharged layer by layer, waiting for the layer to dry and then adding the next level. The printer usually works as a conventional inkjet printer. It effectively makes a 3D object with hundreds or thousands of 2D printing. There are a variety of different materials that a printer uses in order to recreate an object to the best of its abilities. Here are some examples:

  • Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS): Plastic material that is easy to shape and tough to break. The same material that LEGOs are made out of.
  • Carbon Fiber Filaments: Carbon fiber is used to create objects that need to be strong, but also extremely lightweight.
  • Conductive Filaments: These printable materials are still in the experimental stage and can be used for printing electric circuits without the need for wires. This is a useful material for wearable technology.
  • Flexible Filaments: Flexible filaments produce prints that are bendable, yet tough. These materials can be used to print anything from wrist watches to phone covers.
  • Metal Filament: Metal filaments are made of finely ground metals and a polymer glue. They can come in steel, brass, bronze and copper in order to get the true look and feel of a metal object.
  • Wood Filament: These filaments contain finely-ground wood powder mixed with a polymer glue. These are obviously used to print wooden-looking objects, and can look like a lighter or darker wood depending on the temperature of the printer.

7 Examples of 3D Printing Technology in Real Life Today

1. Prosthetic Limbs & Body Parts: Recently, a team from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago successfully conducted an experiment in which a mouse with 3D printed ovaries actually successfully birthed healthy pups.

2. Homes And Buildings: In Moscow, Russia, a team used 3D printing to create a 400 square foot house in less than a day, just to point out one instance of the production speed.

3. Food: 3D printing is even breaking design barriers in the culinary arts. Using a plastic 3D printer, users can actually print chocolate based off a digital design from 3D software.

4. Firearm And Military: A very controversial topic has been the ability to 3D print fully functional firearms. Defense Distributer’s “Liberator” has been subject of hot discussion as it is a working plastic gun, created using 3D printing technology. This is a very dangerous capacity for many people since it is possible for anyone with a 3D printer to make their own firearms.

5. Manufacturing:  The automotive and aeronautical industries, to name a couple, have experienced the benefits of 3D printing technologies first hand, and are beginning to integrate it into their production processes. The ability to 3D print both replacement parts and functional, new parts saves them significant, time and money.

6. Musical Instrument: At Sweden’s Lund University, the first ever live concert featuring all 3D printed instruments has taken place, and the show was a smashing success. In addition to complete instruments, 3D printing can also be used to create accessories such as custom mouthpieces.

7: Aerospace Technology: The Relativity Space in California claims that it can 3D print a working rocket in just a few days and with one hundred times fewer parts than a normal shuttle. The company’s first conceptualized rocket, the Terran 1, is set to launch in 2020, and it will only take 60 days from the start of printing to the launch into space. The rocket will be custom-printed using a proprietary alloy metal that maximizes payload capacity and minimizes assembly time.

3D Printing Technology Features

1. Speed up your work: One of the biggest advantages of 3D printing technology is Rapid Prototyping. Rapid prototyping is the ability to design, manufacture, and test a customized part in as little time as possible. Also, if needed, the design can be modified without adversely affecting the speed of the manufacturing process.

2. Effective Cost: For small production runs and applications, 3D printing is the most cost-effective manufacturing process. Traditional prototyping methods like CNC machining and injection molding require a large number of expensive machines plus they have much higher labor costs as they require experienced machine operators and technicians to run them.

3. More Flexibility: With traditional manufacturing processes, each new part or change in part design, requires a new tool, mold, die, or jig to be manufactured to create the new part. In 3D printing, the design is fed into slicer software, needed supports added, and then printed with little or no change at all in the physical machinery or equipment.

4. Tangible Design And Product testing: As previously described in competitive advantages, seeing a product on a screen cannot compare with actually touching and feeling a prototype. A physical prototype can be tested and if flaws are found, the CAD file can be modified and a new version printed out by the next day.

5. Better Quality: Traditional manufacturing methods can result in poor designs therefore poor quality prototypes. Imagine baking a cake, where all the ingredients are combined and mixed together, then placed in the oven to bake. If it happens the elements were not mixed well, the cake would have problems like air bubbles or fail to bake thoroughly. The same can occur with subtractive or injection methods; quality is not always assured.

6. Risk Reduction: 3D printing allows a business to mitigate its risks in manufacturing. 3D printing technology allows product designers to verify product prototypes before starting out on substantial manufacturing investments that can be potentially disastrous.

7. Accessibility: 3D printing systems are much more accessible and can be used by a much wider range of people than traditional manufacturing setups. In comparison to the enormous expense involved with setting up traditional manufacturing systems, a 3D printing setup costs much less.

8: Sustainability: With 3D printing, fewer parts need outsourcing for manufacturing. This equals less environmental impact because fewer things are being shipped across the globe and there is no need to operate and maintain an energy-consuming factory. It creates a lot less waste material for a single part plus materials used in 3D printing generally are recyclable.

9. Consistency: In 3D printing, the parts are printed in succession. Each successive individual part can be monitored, allowing errors to be caught in real time, reducing the overall number of failed parts and wasted materials while increasing consistent quality of the parts produced.

10: Competitive Advantage: Because of the speed and lower costs of 3D printing, product life cycles are reduced. Businesses can improve and enhance a product allowing them to deliver better products in a shorter amount of time.



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