3D printing is one of the latest manufacturing processes that has caught the attention of almost every industry in the last few years. It is proving to be a viable production and rapid prototyping process.
After all, companies need fast research and prototyping for their new products, 3D printing ease out such need. It is an additive manufacturing process where different layers of the raw material lay to form an object.
How does 3D printing works?
To start the process, a person creates a graphic model of the object. Graphic modeling is done with the help of Computer-aided design (CAD) software.
For making a model that will be used for decorative purposes only, designing and printing are easy. However, for the products that have specific purposes, the modeling process can also include the testing or simulation to find any defect in the end product.
The most distinguishing gain of 3D printing is that we can design anything with it. The products that are too complex to make through traditional methods can be made through 3D printing very easily. The only task you require is a good imagination. It is cheaper than other manufacturing processes.
The next step after designing comes into play where software slices the model. As machine can’t interpret data as we humans do so the model needs to be sliced into multiple layers and then sent to the printer.
These software alter the lattice structure of the model, which in turn affects its stability. In addition, slicer software adds supporting columns where ever they are required. This is due to the fact that, plastic cannot be laid down on thin air.
The slicer software can also change the density of the product by making air pockets in it. This shows the range of effect 3D printing can have of products.
After feeding all the information into the slicer softwares the printer takes over and prints the model according to the instructions. The working of a 3D printer is similar to the inkjet printer in terms of its movement. For ink purpose it uses a plastic polymer.
Steps of 3D printer
The steps in the making of a model through a 3D printer are mentioned below
- Create a 3D model using CAD software.
- Convert the CAD drawing into the standard tessellation language (STL) format and transfer it to the computer. The user also sets the size and orientation for printing.
- The printing starts and product develops in some time. One should keep checking the machine when it works to avoid any error.
What can a 3D printer make?
As of now, there are limited things that a 3D printer can make. Their scope gets small when it comes down to printing large objects. For it to happen either it can be printed in many parts or in a go by a big 3D printer. 3D printers can use plastic, concrete, metal and even animal cells as their inks. One printer cannot use multiple inks for printing a product.
Some of the areas where 3D printing is used are: –
- Prosthetic limbs and other body parts
- Homes and other buildings
- Acrylic objects
- Movie props
- Musical instruments
- Medical models and devices
What are the benefits of 3D printing?
The process of 3D printing is very different than traditional manufacturing processes. It adds material in layers and other processes subtract the material from the work piece. In both cases, we get the end product, but due to their different methods there are some benefits of 3D printing over other processes. They are mentioned below.
- Faster production – Even though it can be slow, but for complex products it has a faster rate of production than other processes.
- Product quality is high – As the same type of printer and model is used, the products obtained are of consistent quality.
- Easily accessible – Since 2010 it has been flooding the market with its printers and softwares. Almost, all the manufacturing industry has a 3D printer.
- Great for design and product testing – It offers a wide range of product designs, even complex objects can be made with ease in it. Also, multiple testing and refinement can be made in it.
- Infinite Product designs– This is one of the most alluring features of 3D printing, limitless design. You can give anything in your mind a 3D physical shape.