3D printing is still a new concept for many, but a lot of excitement continues to build around what 3D printers can do. The technology is currently used in engineering, science, and even medicine. But what are the concepts behind it and how does it work?
Equipment and materials used in 3D printing
3D printers turn digital designs into physical objects. For this, you’ll need a computer-aided design (CAD) software. You, or someone who is an expert in digital designs, can generate what you want your printer to make. Pre-made designs of different objects are also available online if you don’t want to use CAD.
Of course, you need the machine itself. There are 10 types of printers available now. The most common among them are the Stereolithography (SLA), Digital Light Processing (DLP), and Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM). The machines differ from each other with their speed, accuracy, and process.
The material used for printing the physical objects is usually thermoplastic. But, there are different kinds, according to Keene Village Plastics, a supplier of thermoplastic welding rods used for fusing 3D printed materials. The most-used are Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS), and Polylactic Acid (PLA). They differ in strength and impact resistance.
How the actual printing works
Once the design is ready, you can connect your computer to a 3D printer. Then, the blueprint will be “sliced” into thousands of horizontal layers. The layers are what gets printed. The creation of the object is accomplished using the additive process. This means that the printer lays down the material in layers. The printer does this in succession until the entire object is formed.
Depending on the type of printer, material, and size of the object, the process could last from a couple of hours to months.
3D printing, though a relatively new technology, is already making waves in innovation. Learning about how it works will be beneficial in the long run. Soon enough, this technology will be accessible to anyone, making life more convenient.