3D printing offers great opportunities for manufacturers in many industries. It is a highly versatile method of production and helps in rapid prototyping. Even if you hire a world-class artist it would be hard to show us a three-dimensional object which looks exactly like what we have in the real world. If you are in business and deals with the development of new products then it is very important to show the clients or the customer about what the company is working with and in this case, there is nothing better than a prototype. You can touch, hold as well as feel it.
3D printing is a part of additive manufacturing. This defines the creation of objects by adding a certain material layer by layer on top of each other. If you take a look at the past you will find the same manufacturing process with many different names such as 3D Layering, Stereolithography but 3D printing is the most popular. The process of 3D Printing is the opposite of subtractive manufacturing which involves cutting out a piece of plastic or metal. 3D printers allow us to make objects with complex shapes and are available for both commercial and domestic use. So, what is a 3D printer and how does it work? Let’s find out together in this article.
What is a 3D Printer?
The best 3d printer under 1000 is just like a regular printer but the difference is that it prints 3D objects. To be more precise, it is a type of material design printer which designs and builds 3D models using the additive manufacturing process. These are mainly used to build 3D dimensional objects, primarily enables rapid prototyping. It takes a source file from a 3D designing software, for example, AutoCAD, Tinker CAD, Fusion360, and Sketchup. Once the design is done it goes for the slicing process which breaks down the design into multiple layers.
Then this design is sent to the printhead in order to print, at this moment the printer takes over and then using the additive manufacturing it designs the object by using multiple layers of raw material. Although it is a time taking process and creating one small object will take a bit of time but it will actually print a three-dimensional object. It also eliminates the need for further equipment and machining or even the subtracting manufacturing process which involves cutting and grinding. The end product which comes out is the three-dimensional object which you designed without any waste. It is also a lot cheaper than traditional manufacturing methods.
What are the Benefits of 3D Printing?
3D Printing is being embraced by many different companies while a lot of them have already started creating 3D printed products others are planning to introduce the technology and replace the traditional manufacturing process. According to recent research more than 70% of manufacturers have adopted 3D printing over subtractive manufacturing. Whether you are an individual or a business alike using 3D printing technology can provide a lot of benefits. Let’s talk about a couple of them.
The process of 3D printing is marginally faster than traditional manufacturing which involves the mold injection and subtractive production method. You can think 3D printing like the speed of a sports car as compared to a horse cart. Both of them will eventually reach their destination at some point but the time difference will be huge. The 3D printing process will only take a couple of hours while traditional manufacturing will take a few days or several weeks.
The traditional manufacturing methods such as conventional or subtractive manufacturing may result in poor design and sometimes poor-quality products. You are always not assured that they will result in 100% perfect quality. It is because they are mixed with many different materials. While 3D printing allows a step by step, layer by layer creation of a product which ensures high-quality product and a much better design.
When it comes to developing a product using traditional methods it involves a lot of expenses such as labor and raw materials. It includes injection molds which are very costly and requires a lot of human help. Labor costs are very high in the subtractive manufacturing process because you need experienced workers who can handle the machines. On the other hand, 3D printing requires very little labor as little as just two-person, one for the machine and the other for print commands.
How does 3D Printing Works?
There are many different types of 3D printers with a few different technologies. Some are easy while some are more complicated and the same goes for expenses, some are very costly while some are very cheap but no matter what kind of printing or the 3D printer is the main printing process is usually the same.
- The process starts with designing a 3D model using any CAD software.
- Once the modeling is done then it is converted into a Standard tessellation language (STL) format. However, some printer supports other file types such as ZPR and ObjDF.
- The STL file is sent to the computer which controls the 3D Printer.
- Now you have to set up the 3D printer. Each one has its own set of requirements such as refilling the polymers, binders and other such materials.
- Then the machine is started and it is time to wait for the build to complete. The machine is also checked in the meanwhile to ensure there are no errors.
- Once the printing is done, the printed object is removed from the printer and requires some post-processing. This involves brushing off the edges or any remaining powder.
So, this is the workflow of 3D printers, the final product might also need some curing.
As you might know by now, 3D printers have many advantages as compared to the traditional manufacturing process. The usage of 3D is not limited and you can print a variety of objects such as Prototypes, Acrylic Objects, Movie Props, Clothes, Medicine and much more. It has a lot of applications in many industries because it can create almost anything you might think off.