what is 3D printing, how it works and types

3D Printing

If you want to make something three-dimensional from a digital file, you can use 3D printing or additive manufacturing.

Additive processes are used to make a 3D printed item. Building up consecutive layers of material creates an object in additive manufacturing. Each of these layers can be seen as a very thin slice of the object.

When you use a machine like a milling machine, you cut away at a piece of metal or plastic. This is called subtractive manufacturing. 3D printing is the opposite of this.

3D printing allows you to make complex shapes with less material than with traditional manufacturing methods.

How Does 3D Printing Work?

There is a 3D model at the beginning of the whole process. You can make one from scratch or get it from a 3D library.

3D software is used to make things

It’s possible to find a lot of different types of software out there. To go from industrial-grade to open source: We’ve put together a quick guide on our 3D software page.

We often tell people to start with Tinkercad. Tinkercad is free and runs in your browser, not on your PC. Tinkercad has tutorials for beginners, and it can export your model as a printable file, like.STL or.OBJ, so you can print it at home or the office.

3D printing

This means that now that you have a file that you can print, the next step is to prepare it for your 3D printer. People do this all the time, and it is called cutting.

When you cut something, you move it from a printable file to a 3D printer:

When you slice up a 3D model into hundreds or thousands of layers, you do this by cutting it up. This is done with software that can do this.

A slice has been made in your file, which means it’s ready to go on your 3D printer! When you send a file to your printer, you can do it by USB, SD, or Wi-Fi. This means that your sliced file is now ready to be used to 3D print layer by layer.

3D printing: There are numerous types of 3D printing

Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, processes have been divided into seven groups by ISO/ASTM 52900. These groups are called additive manufacturing processes: They all fall into one of the following groups:

The Binder Jetting

It starts with a layer of powdered material, like metal or polymer sand or ceramic, being deposited on the build platform. Then, drops of adhesive are deposited by the print head to hold the particles together. After the part is built layer by layer, it may need some extra work to finish it off. This is an example of post-processing: Metal parts may be heated to make them stronger. Bronze, which has a low melting point, may be injected into a full-colour polymer or ceramic parts to make them stick.

3D printing

Binder jetting can be used for a lot of different things, like 3D metal printing, full-colour prototypes, and large-scale ceramic moulds.

Direct Energy Deposition

Using direct energy deposition, you can fuse wire or powder feedstock as it is put down. This can be done by using an electric arc, laser, or electron beam to heat the material. Some layers are built horizontally, and then they are stacked vertically to make parts.

3D printing

This process can be used with a wide range of materials, such as metals, ceramics, and polymers.

Extrusion is the process of making things out of things

Material extrusion or fused deposition modelling (FDM) is when a spool of filament is fed to an extrusion head with a heated nozzle. The heated nozzle makes the filament flow. When the extrusion head heats, softens and spreads out the heated material, it does so at set places. Then, the build platform moves down so that the next layer can be added, and the next layer can be made. 3D printing

This process is cheap and has short lead times, but it also has a low level of precision and often needs to be smoothed out afterwards. This process also tends to make parts that are not homogeneous, which means that they are weaker in one direction and not good for critical applications.

The process of material being sucked into a tube

Material jetting works in the same way as inkjet printing, but instead of putting ink on paper, this process spreads layers of liquid material across the paper. It then takes time for the layers to dry before the process starts again for the next one. To use material jetting, you need to build support structures. These can be made of a water-soluble material that can be washed away after the build has been done.

3D printing

Material jetting is one of the most expensive ways to 3D print, and the parts tend to be brittle and break down over time. However, this process can be used to make full-colour parts out of a wide range of materials.

Fusion in the Powder Bed

Lasers or electron beams can be used to heat parts of a powder bed and fuse them into layers. The layers are then built on top of each other, and they make a part. The PBF process includes both sintering and melting, so this is important to keep in mind. The basic way that all powder bed systems work is the same: a recoating blade or roller spreads a thin layer of powder on the build platform.

3D Printing

The powder bed surface is then heated by a heat source that only heats the particles that need to be heated. The heat source scanned a layer or cross-section.  After that, the platform moves down so that the process can start again on the next layer. The result is a volume with one or more fused parts inside surrounded by unaffected powder. When the build is done, the bed is raised so that the parts can be removed from the powder and any necessary post-processing can start.

There are many types of polymer parts that can be made with selective laser sintering (SLS). These parts can be made with complex geometries since there are no support structures (the powder bed acts as a support). The parts made may have a grainy surface and be filled with holes inside. This means that they often need to be cleaned up after they are made.

Lamination of sheets

Two distinct methods of sheet lamination exist laminated object production (LOM) and ultrasonic additive production (UAM) (UAM). LOM makes items that look and feel good by layering different materials and adhesives together. UAM joins thin sheets of metal together with ultrasonic welding. A process called UAM can be used with aluminium, stainless steel, and titanium. It doesn’t use a lot of heat or electricity, and it doesn’t use a lot of materials.

3D Printing

Vat Photopolymerization

There are two types of VAT photopolymerization: stereolithography (SLA) and digital light processing (DLP). In both of these processes, light is used to selectively cure the liquid resin in a vat. They both make parts layer by layer. In SLA, the curing process is done with a single point laser or UV source. In DLP, a single image of each full layer is flashed on the surface of the vat. After printing, parts need to be cleaned of excess resin and then exposed to a light source to make them more durable and strong. This will make them more durable and strong. Any support structures will also need to be removed, and more post-processing can be used to get a better finish.

3D Printing

These processes are great for making prototypes because they can make small parts with a smooth finish. This makes them ideal for making parts with a high level of dimensional accuracy. However, because the parts are more brittle than those made with fused deposition modelling (FDM), they aren’t as good for making prototypes that work. As a result, these parts aren’t good for outside use because UV light from the sun can make them fade in colour and lose their strength. The support structures that are needed can also leave behind blemishes that need to be cleaned up after the fact.

Examples of how 3D printing can be used to make things

Almost every industry you can think of uses 3D printing. This means that 3D printing is used in almost every field you can think of. It’s important to think of it as a group of different industries with a lot of different applications. There are a few:

  • Things that people buy (eyewear, footwear, design, furniture)
  • manufacturing tools, prototypes, functional parts for use in the real world, and dental products
  • Architectural scale models and maquettes are also included.
  • making fossils 
  • making ancient artefacts 
  • making evidence in forensic pathology
  • props in movies


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