3D printing – everything you need to know

3D printing – everything you need to know

3D printing

What is 3D printing?

This is an automated process that enables building of a 3-dimensional object by adding material through machining rather than taking it away. 3d printing was introduced in the 1980’s and used commercially as a rapid prototype method in the automotive and aerospace industries. 3D printing has only recently become available to the masses. There are affordable desktop 3d printers that utilise Fused Deposition Modelling tech.

Myths about 3d printing:

  • The printer is super expensive
  • 3D printers can produce working guns
  • The 3D printing market is unstable
  • You can 3D print human organs
  • 3D printing is for large scale manufactures only
  • 3D Printer makes things faster
  • It is cheaper to make things on a 3D printer

How does it work

The 3-dimensional object is created by the 3-d printer which puts down successful layers of material until the object is complete. There are multiple 3d software tools available in the industry. The process of dividing the model into thousands or hundreds of horizontal layers is called slicing.

What are the benefits

In fields like aerospace, it takes along time to assemble some machines and parts. 3D printers have enabled the assembly of such machines in one go. The assembly speed of a 3D printer reduces the overall cost of the product and increases the levels of mass productions. It also enables designers to create prototypes and save time during the designing process. The printers are portable and this can help eliminate or lower inventory needs.

What are the limitations

While 3D printing has already been implemented in some technical and mechanical worlds, we are still years away from having a 3D printer brake through. The breakthrough should allow 3D printing to go from prototyping to using more complex materials and actions.

It takes a relatively long time to 3D print anything, in fact the exact amount of time traditional manufacturers uses to make the same product.  The printing is limited by the size of the printer; precision and high-quality results are limited to the smaller machines.

3D printing vs additive manufacturing – are they the same?

Short answer, NO. 3D printing is derived from the use of inkjet heads to deposit layers of photo-polymer resin that is UV curable or binding material on a lye of powder bed. The 3D printing term however is now used to describe all additive manufacturing techs.

3d vs 4d printing

Basically, 4D is a derivative of 3D printing. In basic 3D printing the end result or product is static unless you used a flexible material. 4D printing on the other hand is another way of programming the object or material to change functionality or form with the correct impulse.

Quality of 3d printed goods

3d orienting can actually be achieved with a wide range of materials. Close to any material can be printed as long as its solid state is practical/ desktop 3d printers are created to handle only thermoplastics by some have filaments that can be altered or enriched through addition of metal, wood and other materials.  They can also print ceramics and more.