What is 3D Printing
3D printing is the process of making three-dimensional solid objects from a digital file. Additive processes are used to make 3D printed objects. In an additive process the successive layers of the material are laid down until the object is entirely created. The layers are visible as the horizontal cross sections of the object, which are thinly sliced.
How 3D Printing Work
Initially, a virtual design (made in Computer Aided Design file) of the eventual object is created. This is done with the help of a 3D modeling program or a 3D scanner, which creates a 3D digital copy of an object. Talking about technologies, then the same technology is used by almost all 3D printers but different processes, which are categorized into 7 categories, which are:
- Vat photopolymerisation
In this process the 3D printer has a container and the UV rays harden the photopolymer resin contained in the container.
- Material jetting
It is somewhat similar to the working of a common inkjet paper printer. In this process, a small diameter nozzle extracts droplets to apply the material layer by layer where the UV rays harden the material created on the platform.
- Binder jetting
Powder base material and a liquid binder are the two basic materials used in this process. The powder is spread in the build chamber in equal layers and the powder particles are glued by the binder through the jet nozzles to give it a shape of a programmed 3D object. The finished object is glued together and placed in a container along with the powder base material and getting over with the printing work the remaining powder is cleaned off and used for further 3D printing.
- Material Extrusion
Fuse deposition modeling technique is used in this process in which a plastic filament or metal wire which is unwound from the coil is used and material is supplied to an extrusion nozzle where the flow is turned on and off. The nozzle due to heating is able to be moved in both horizontal and vertical directions which are controlled by numerical mechanisms. The layers are formed by the melted material as the material immediately hardens after getting extruded from the nozzles.
- Powder bed fusion
Small particles of plastic, metal, ceramic or glass powders are fused by high power lasers into a mass that has the desired 3D shapes. The layers generated by the 3D modeling program and scanned by the powered material are selectively fused on the surface of a powder bed.
- Sheet lamination
In this process, materials in sheets which are bound together with external force are used. Sheets are usually of metal, paper or a form of polymer. Ultrasonic welding is done to weld the metal sheets together in layers. Paper sheets can also be used but they are glued by the adhesive and precise blades are used to cut them in shape.
- Directed energy deposition
The high- tech metal industries and rapid manufacturing applications mostly use this technique. A multi-axis robotic arm is used, to which 3D printing apparatus is attached. It also consists of a nozzle with the metal powder or wire which is deposited and is melted by an energy source, thus forming a solid object.
3D Printing Benefits
- Less time consuming
Development is faster than ever.
- Less expensive
As additive manufacturing techniques are used, the rates are much lower than traditional machining.
- Less risk
The design has to verified before being invested in an expensive molding tool, and it thus mitigates the rate.
An ideal solution is discovered easily as the ideas are quickly tested.
- Providing dimensions to your imagination
It is easier nowadays to get anything into 3D format as we can draw our imagination virtually and get it into 3D print.
- Easy to Personalize
In order to meet one’s needs, one can personalize, customize and tweak a part easily.