Everything you need to know about 3D printing

- May 23, 2019-

3D printing converts spools of plastic filaments or resin trays into physical objects. 3D printing does not belong to this world at all. NASA maintains a 3D printer on the International Space Station, and astronauts can make custom tools (such as this repair wrench) without having to fly them into space.

3D printing has been adopted by students, entrepreneurs, amateurs and large factories. Because 3D printing allows digital designs to be converted into tangible objects, a wide range of uses have been discovered.

The doctor can print a physical model of the patient's anatomy to better visualize the program and demonstrate the practice. Factory engineers can create custom fixtures and fixtures that save time and reduce damage during manufacturing. The community fosters entrepreneurial space, teaches STEM skills and helps start-ups for new businesses, creating new jobs and local opportunities.

While 3D printing is primarily used for the production of plastic objects, 3D printing can also produce metal objects, although this is a more expensive and less common process than plastic 3D printing.

Executive Summary

What is 3D printing? 3D printing is the process of creating physical objects from a digital model. 3D printing is an addition process. The plastic layers are built one after another to create objects.

How does 3D printing affect the economy?

3D printing is an integral part of the manufacturer's movement and benefits the community, education, entrepreneurs and traditional businesses. It helps promote the creation of new products and new companies, and teaches skills that can be converted into a variety of technical and professional jobs.

How expensive is 3D printing compared to traditional manufacturing processes?

That depends. It costs much less and creates prototypes, fixtures, tools and fixtures with 3D printing much less time. However, once the setup and tool costs are paid, traditional manufacturing techniques (such as injection molding) can produce objects faster and at lower cost.

How does 3D printing affect the supply chain? 

3D printing is ideal for short-term manufacturing and small-scale production. It also allows spare parts to be "stored in the cloud" so physical inventory is not required before the object is needed. By providing 3D objects globally in digital form and printing them locally, the cost and time of transportation can be completely eliminated.

Can 3D printing change manufacturing? 

Manufacturing is undergoing tremendous changes, and 3D printing is one of the elements. Other factors include a significant increase in data volume and throughput, improved analysis, improved human factors, and automation of various production processes.

What is 3D printing?

3D printing is the process of creating objects (usually plastic, but sometimes metal or composite materials) from a digital model. Most 3D printers add material to a very thin layer at a time, which is why 3D printers are classified as "additive manufacturing."

How does additive manufacturing work?

Computer printers typically operate one line at a time. The 3D printer is more like a plotter, moving the print head along the X and Y axes to draw a pattern. In the case of a 3D printer, the 3D printer is three-dimensional. Once the pattern is drawn, the print head moves up (or the print moves face down) and the other pattern is drawn on the first one.

How does a 3D printer work?

There are several types of 3D printers, but we will focus on two types: fused deposition modeling (or FDM) and stereolithography (or SLA).

FDM begins with a filament coil. These are usually 1.75 or 2.85 mm thick strands that are wound onto the spindle. The FDM printer heats the filament, extrudes it through the extruder nozzle, and lays a layer on the build surface. These layers are very thin and when each molten layer is laid on top of the previous layer, it partially melts upon cooling.

Over time - sometimes it takes a lot of time - an object is built from hundreds or thousands of these layers.

SLA starts with a liquid resin. The build tray descends into the resin (usually upside down) and light (sometimes from the LCD, sometimes from the UV laser) produces a chemical reaction in the resin that hardens. When each layer is exposed to light, the printer lifts the build platform slightly away from the resin cell, exposing the next layer.

FDM is the most common form of material extrusion 3D printing. SLA is the most common form of photopolymeric 3D printing. These two printing methods have reached a sufficiently low level of cost that consumers, amateurs, educators, entrepreneurs and small businesses can afford, but they are usually limited to the production of plastics, plastic composites and nylon materials. .

Other forms of 3D printers can be used, but require a large purchase cost. These include powder bed 3D printing (dropping powder and then fusion forming), laminate manufacturing (bonding sheets together and then cutting them), directional energy deposition (this is somewhat similar if the welder and FDM printer were born) And electron beam free form fabrication (ejecting an electron beam in a vacuum to produce molten metal based on a 3D model).

These last forms of 3D printing are commonly used to make metal parts, while FDM and SLA are most commonly used to make plastic objects.

All in common is that they create new objects by gradually adding and blending raw materials.

What 3D printing is not

The 3D printer is not a Star Trek replicator. Anyone with a 3D printer will tell you that as soon as the guest sees the printer in action, their imagination will be excited. Almost immediately, they will start to call out the types of items they want to make. Often these are not even existing items, but they believe that the magic of 3D printing can create new inventions overnight.

How does 3D printing affect the economy?

Just as 3D printing is a factor in the digital manufacturing transformation trend, 3D printing is an element of a larger economic trend and the rise of the manufacturer's movement.

An exciting aspect of production is its inclusiveness and gender neutrality. It covers everything from doll making to robot design, from scrapbooking to making furniture, from leather making to 3D printing. This is a word that contains anything that makes things pure and simple.

Manufacturing is different from manufacturing, although it often leads to manufacturing. When someone designs a product and builds a prototype, consider making it. Once the prototype is in active production, it is manufacturing. Now, combining desktop production with crowdfunding, you can design very complex prototypes that are then funded by potential customers.

Advantages and disadvantages of FDM and SLA printers

Since FDM and SLA printers are already available to amateurs and professionals, they are the most common type of 3D printer. The consumer version can be used for hundreds of dollars, and professional machines for prototyping and fixture manufacturing are priced between $3,000 and $6,000.

These are the 3D printing technologies you are most likely to invest in.

FDM printer

FDM is the first mainstream amateur 3D printing technology, still leading the market in terms of brand and product supply and sales volume.

One of the main challenges of 3D printing is to get a successful print of the object. Printing failed because the deposited plastic heats or cools too quickly because the layer does not bond successfully because the print is detached from the build plate printing surface due to filament clogging in the extruder, as well as various other production issues.

FDM printers can print in a variety of plastics. Each plastic has different characteristics which make printing easier or more difficult and produce different characteristics in the finished part.

The most common type of filament is PLA (polylactic acid), which is very easy to print, but can be very brittle and will deform in the sun.

Nylon is very flexible, but it usually requires a lot of fiddling to get its print settings working.

ABS is stronger (it's made of LEGO), but its cooling rate usually causes the underlying curl to distort the entire print. It also has an unpleasant odor and moderately toxic fumes.

Some suppliers inject basic plastics (primarily PLA) into other materials, including wood, metal and carbon fiber. Each of these changes the characteristics of the finished printed object.

Most FDM printers have an extruder that can print one filament roll at a time. More advanced (and expensive) FDM printers can print two, three, four or more filaments at a time, allowing the printer to mix colors, functional properties (such as solid plastics and flexible hinges) and soluble support materials.

The print is made up of a string of molten plastic, so overhanging can be a problem. Although FDM printers can typically print circles or angles of up to 45-60 degrees, they cannot print on the air gap because the molten plastic will simply sink into the gap.

To compensate for the large gaps, most printers will produce support, or a temporary plastic tower that can support the bridge area. The monofilament printer uses the same material as the object itself and has a variety of settings that make it easy to remove the support.

Dual filament printers often print with a dissolvable support material like PVA (polyvinyl alcohol) which is pretty much the same material that Elmer's Glue is made from. Once the dual filament print is completed, it's submerged in water for hours (or sometimes days) and the PVA dissolves, leaving an intact print with the open voids the designer intended for the final object.

Because FDM printers print in layers, the orientation of the object being printed can be important. Bonds between layers are often weaker than linear runs of plastic. As such, placement on the bed should take that into account for any objects that are likely to be under stress.

FDM printers come in a variety of sizes. The larger the size, the more challenging the print, because it's often difficult to balance the heat characteristics within the full build area.

FDM printers also offer a variety of nozzle sizes. The larger the nozzle, the more material extruded per minute, but the less refined the final result. The smaller the nozzle, the more detailed the print. Printing with large nozzles or small nozzles will introduce other challenges, often related to supports, bridging, and heat management.

SLA printer

SLA printers have many features that make them out of the mainstream:

The liquid resins they use are highly toxic in their uncured form. If you get it, it can cause painful burns or rashes.

The finished print needs to be processed in a bath and then cured. They will deform during this processing time. They are also toxic.

SLA printers are more cumbersome than FDM printers due to liquid resins and processing baths.

SLA printers typically have very small build areas, resulting in typically small prints. Resins are typically formulated specifically for a particular printer, so the user can lock the supplier's product, which may limit material and color choices.

Even so, SLA printers are becoming more popular, mainly because they produce prints with very fine detail and a few layers of layers. This makes them particularly suitable for prototyping of jewellery designs and dies, small medical and dental designs, and hobbies such as model railroads and game miniatures.

Design and preparation of prints

The process of moving from creative to 3D printed objects must first pass two software tool technologies: 3D modeling (or CAD) software and a slicer.

3D modeling software

3D modeling software (also known as CAD (for computer-aided design)) can be considered as the creation engine for 3D models. In the same way, you can use Photoshop to create graphics, Illustrator to create illustrations, or use Word to create articles like this, and CAD software for creating 3D model designs.

There are many CAD programs out there, and each program is best suited for different tasks. I alternate between TinkerCAD and Fusion 360, depending on whether I need to build a quick part or a more complex design.


The CAD program generates a virtual model of the 3D object. But most 3D printing is done layer by layer. The process of converting a 3D design into a series of machine motions on a two-dimensional plane (and then moving the plane) is the job of the slicer program.

Read more:https://www.zdnet.com/article/everything-you-need-to-know-about-3d-printing-and-its-impact-on-your-business/

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