About 3D Printing & 3D Printers
(Source Wikipedia) 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing (AM), refers to processes used to synthesize a three-dimensional object in which successive layers of material are formed under computer control to create an object. Objects can be of almost any shape or geometry and are produced using digital model data from a 3D model or another electronic data source such as an Additive Manufacturing File (AMF) file.
Futurologist Jeremy Rifkin claimed that 3D printing signals the beginning of a third industrial revolution, succeeding the production line assembly that dominated manufacturing starting in the late 19th century.
The term "3D printing"'s origin sense is in reference to a process that deposits a binder material onto a powder bed with inkjet printer heads layer by layer. More recently, the term is being used in popular vernacular to encompass a wider variety of additive manufacturing techniques. United States and global Technical standards use the official term additive manufacturing for this broader sense. ISO/ASTM52900-15 defines seven categories of AM processes within its meaning: Binder Jetting, Directed Energy Deposition, Material Extrusion, Material Jetting, Powder Bed Fusion, Sheet Lamination and Vat Photopolymerization.
3D Printing is also known as "additive manufacturing" or "stereo lithography". If you have not watched one in action, a 3D Printer producing a 3D Print from an object file is mesmerizing.
3D printing turns computer generated models into real physical 3D Printed objects that are usable immediately. A 3D Printer can print in different materials, from plastic filament PLA to ABS plastic, flexible and biodegradable filament, Nylon, liquid resin, etc. The 3D Printer melts the ABS/PLA filament in thin layers onto the print bed, completes a layer and then moves up a notch to start printing the second layer. After all the layers have been printed, you are left with a physical 3D printed object. You can use 3D modeling software such as Blender (available at www.blendswap.com), the free google sketch up program, or go to thingiverse.com, to download free 3D object files that have been designed and shared by site members, to modify, customize and print in your workplace (classroom, office) or home.
3D Printing (Three-dimensional printing) has actually been around since the 1980s, but until recently has been out of reach for most businesses and consumers. Today, 3D printing and 3D Printers are not only making waves for all they can do, but are also at a price point within reach of most businesses and end consumers. Not only are 3D printers now cheaper to produce, they are also loaded with features that were not available until fairly recently.
How Does 3D Printing Work? What are the types of 3D Printers?
There are many types of 3D Printers. Each 3D printer type typically uses a different raw material to print a 3D Printed object, from ABS/PLA plastic filament to printers that can now print in carbon fiber. Still, all such 3D printers employ the same basic methodology to "3D print" an object - adding on (hence the term "additive manufacturing") or transferring multiple layers of a material onto a build platform, starting with the first or bottom layer of any 3D printed object.
You have to start with a (3D) three-dimensional file of the item you want to print by using a computer-assisted design ("CAD") software package. The program sends "slices" (in the form of instructions) of your desired object to your "3D Printer" whether it is an Ultimaker, BCN3D Technologies Sigma, Mass Portal Delta XD, Zmorph or one of the 400+ brands on the market today.
One type of 3D printing technology is known selective laser sintering or SLS and it uses a laser beam to heat and solidify a granular/powdery substance into a series of slices, again using the "additive manufacturing" approach. This method in particular can be and is most often used to create figurines. Another 3d printing method involves the use of UltraViolet light to cure layers of liquid resin (SLA).
Please feel free to email us with any questions you may have regarding how you can put a "3D Printer" to work in your business or home and how 3D Printing can revolutionize your prototyping process.