3D Printers – an overview of how they work

3D Printers

3D printers became famous over the last decades. They bring enormous advantages to the industry.

With 3D printers, in fact, you can create an object much easier than a traditional manufacturing process. This is key to prototypes approaches.

In the very early years of the past century, prototypes were created by hand, modeling wood or using plastic or paper. Even when manufacturing became more machines oriented, the prototype approach was very costly.

Converting an existing machine to create something that is not existing, can take a lot of time and resources. Creating a new machine can even more expensive.

Here comes the advantage of 3D printing.

3D printers print objects layer by layer 10 times faster. This process is known as additive manufacturing. They can print objects of any kind or shape, solving the prototypes approach issues.

How does 3D Printing work?

First, we have to think that 3D printers need to have a clear picture of what they need to print. As I said, 3D printing is a layer-by-layer approach. This means that we have to think of our object as composed of different layers.

The model is created as a 3D object using a particular software. You can also download models from a repository or even scan an existing object using a 3D scanner.

Once the model is ready, the next step is to communicate what to do to the printer.

Sliding is the process of dividing the model into layers. This can be done with additional software. Some printers have this software built-in so the model can be transmitted directly to the printer and the printer will do the rest.

Types of 3d printing

Likewise in normal printing, also in 3d printing you can find different types of printer. In general we can list 4 categories or ways of printing:

  • direct 3d printing: the 3d printer is working as it was a normal inkjet printer. It will print a layer after the other
  • multi-jet modeling: a faster printing method. It uses many jets that will work at the same time to grant faster printing.
  • binder 3d printing: this printing method works with a powder that is first applied and then glued together to make the different layers.
  • photopolymerization: with this printing method a laser will convert drops of liquid plastic particles in a solid layer.

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