3D printing is a process of additive manufacturing that can be used for making solid three dimensional models from digital files. Additive processes are used to create 3D printed objects. The successive layers of material are laid down in an additive process until the desired object is created. In the horizontal cross-section of the ultimate object, each of these layers can be seen.
As compared to the subtractive manufacturing process in which a piece of plastic or metal is hollowed or cut to make an object, 3d printing it just opposite. It allows you to produce even a complex object by using a lesser amount of material as compared to the traditional methods of production.
Working of 3D Printing
The process of 3D printing starts with using a computer to create a 3D model. For instance, the digital design of an object can be created in a computer in the form of CAD file. You can use a 3D modeling software or a database generated through a 3D scanner to create a 3D model from scratch. You can also create a digital copy of the object by using a 3D scanner.
What are 3D scanners?
You can find a wide range of 3D scanners in the market ranging from DIY 3D scanners for $30 to use at home to industrial grade expensive 3D scanners. These scanners can be rated on the base of their speed, price, the capability of the software used and precision.
Software for 3D modeling
Various types of 3D modeling software options are used these days. The cost of the license of the industrial grade 3D printing software can be thousands of dollars per year whereas open source software is also available free of cost. Open source software is designed for beginners and is also available with videos of tutorials.
The software used for 3D modeling is usually designed according to the functions of the industry using it. For this reason, you can find a wide range of 3D printing software according to the suitability of a particular industry such as the transportation industry, aerospace industry, fabric, and fashion industry and furniture industry, etc.
This is the main reason that you can find it difficult to find suitable software when you start searching for one for your 3D printing project. Some of these software options are available free of cost and can be used to support browsers like Google Chrome etc. These software options can also provide lessons for the beginners along with using them with 3D printers to print 3D objects.
When you have a 3D model then to make it printable you will have to prepare certain things step-by-step.
It is the first step to make a 3d model printable into a 3-dimensional object. In the process of slicing the 3D model you have, you will have to use slicing software to divide that object into a large number of horizontal layers. Sometimes a 3D file can be sliced within the 3Dprinter or within the software of 3D modeling. For certain 3D printers, you can be compelled to use certain tool for slicing the 3D object.
You can feed your 3D printer after finishing the process of slicing you object by using Wi-Fi, USB or SD. The quality of your 3D prints also depends upon the brand of 3D printer you are using. You can print your 3D object layer by layer once the file is uploaded in a 3D printer.
Starting to print a 3D object
Before starting to print a 3D object you will first of all have to decide what you want to print. It can either be a hardware item or an end product. After making a decision you can buy a suitable 3D printer, a DIY kit or a pre-assembled printer.
Moreover, you can buy a 3D printer according to your budget as they are available from under $250 to expensive range of industrial grade printers.
Applications and examples of 3D Printing
3d printing can be used for a wide variety of applications including creating models and maquettes at an architectural scale, movie props and 3D printed prosthetics, etc. Replication of ancient artifacts in archaeology, reconstruction of fossils in paleontology, reconstruction of heavily damaged evidence captured from the scene of crime investigations and reconstruction of body parts and bones in forensic pathology are some of the other examples of the use of 3D printing in day-to-day life these days.
- Main sectors in which 3D printing can be applied:
3d printers are being used in classrooms by teachers and students since last few years in many countries. Students can materialize their ideas in an affordable and fast way b using a 3D printer. Along with higher classes in schools 3D printers are also used in some of the primary schools, high schools, and university classes along within online courses and workshops to illustrate the concepts to the students in a better way.
3D printing is also used by manufacturers for designing as well as creating prototypes at a faster speed and for that reason it is known as rapid prototyping. 3D printing is used to create prototypes because it is faster and more affordable than traditional prototypes.
3D printing is also used by manufacturers to start manufacturing their perfect end products rapidly by creating and testing their prototypes rapidly.
The automotive industry has also adopted 3D printing for repairing and restoring the damaged parts of the vehicles at a faster speed. The use of additive technology in this field is likely to increase considerably in the near future
At present 3D printing in various forms is used in the aviation industry. Many aviation companies are using it for exploring the airplanes and their parts since long.
3D printing is widely used in the aerospace industry as they are using it for creating some of the most interesting concept printers and materials for using in the field of research and development.
In this way, 3D printing is becoming popular all over the world in various industries and applications for the last few years. Its extensive use is expected in almost all the industries worldwide in the coming few years.