November 15, 2021

The Definition of 3D printing

Additive manufacturing, like 3D printing and CNC machining, is the process of making physical objects from digital models by layering material repeatedly. The word ‘additive’ refers to how we add new layers on top of previous ones in order to make our final product as opposed to cutting out pieces with traditional methods such as milling or carving where you cut away what doesn’t need to be there anymore.

How It Works

Printing is similar to 3D printing, which is more advanced. The first step in 3D printing is to build a model, which is a digital model that offers the program a concept of what to make. A CAD (computer-aided design), a camera, and photogrammetry software can be used to build 3D models. The most efficient CAD makes fewer mistakes than the others.

3D scanning is a technique for gathering digital information about the geometry and appearance of a physical thing and constructing a digital model from it.

Three types of files can be used to save CAD models. The first is STL, which stands for Standard Tessellation Language in complete Stereolithography. It produces topology-optimized parts with huge file sizes. The second is Step (which means for Standard for the Exchange of Product Model Data) and the third is IGES (which refers to Initial Graphics Exchange Specification in full).

3D printing is precise; it produces a larger, higher-resolution representation of an object of your choice. All additive manufacturing methods combine to create a layered structure in the final product. The most popular materials used in 3D printing and custom machined parts are plastic, metal, resin, carbon fiber, powders, and nitinol.

The design and creation of what is known as 4D printing has been made possible thanks to the use of 3D printing and multi-material structures in additive manufacturing. 4D printing is a type of additive manufacturing in which the printed product changes shape in response to time, temperature, or other stimuli. The microstructures of these printed new materials must be similar to or better than those obtained by standard machining procedures, which is one of the challenges of 4D printing.

Types of 3D Printing

1. Material Extrusion

When a spool of filament is fed into an extrusion head with a heated nozzle, this is what happens. Because it’s simple to do, this method saves both money and time. One downside is that some components have a defect that makes them weaker than others.

2. Material Jetting

One or more print heads deposit layers of liquid material in this procedure. It works in a similar way as inkjet printing. It is a costly procedure. It has flaws such as being brittle and degrading over time.

3. Powder Bed Fusion

In this method, thermal energy is employed to strategically fuse areas of powder particles to a layer form. It is also an expensive process.

4. Sheet Lamination

It is divided into two sections. To create visually appealing objects, laminated object manufacturing employs alternating layers of material. The other element is ultrasonic additive manufacturing, which uses ultrasonic welding to attach thin metal sheets.

Bottom line

One of the advantages of 3D printing is mass production, as well as a slew of other advantages. With the advancement of technology, we are confident that 3D printing will provide us with even more benefits.

About the author 

Peter Hatch

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