How Does Additive Manufacturing Work
The analogy to printing is not perfect. Computer printers generally operate a row at a time. 3D printers work much more like plotters, moving a print head along both the X and Y axis to draw a pattern. In the case of a 3D printer, the pattern is usually drawn with plastic, not ink. What makes the 3D printer three-dimensional is that once a pattern is drawn, the print head moves up , and another pattern is drawn on top of the first.
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A Brief History Of 3d Printing
Back in 1986, a guy named Charles W. Hull filed a patent for stereolithography, which became the first known method of creating 3D objects out of thin air. The invention of this method ushered in a new age of machining processes.
Whereas most objects are built using a subtractive process , 3D printing uses an additive process .
Despite the massive technological advancements that made 3D printing more accessible to the public, 3D printers are still pretty expensive. While you can get an ink printer that creates decent results for less than $50, a new 3D printer costs anywhere from $400 for low-capacity hobbyist printers to over $4,000 for professional printers.
Fortunately, you dont have to justify purchasing a 3D printer to your wallet. There are companies all over the world that provide 3D printing services at various price points. Whether youre printing parts for a mechanical project youre working on or simply want a 3D figure or , theyll print it for you.
Nearly all forms of 3D printing require an STL file. An STL file is a specific format of 3D model that allows 3D printers to conveniently and effectively slice up the object into the individual layers used in the actual printing. Most STL files are first created in a computer-aided design program and then converted.
Is 3d Printing Even Printing
Yes, 3D printing can be considered printing, although not as it’s traditionally been defined. The relevant Webster’s definitions of “printing” center on the production of printed matter, publications, or photographs, and producing by means of impression . Neither definition really fits 3D printing. But from a technological perspective, 3D printing is an outgrowth of traditional printing, in which a layer of material is applied. Usually it’s so thin that there is no noticeable height . What 3D printing does is greatly extend that height through the application of multiple layers. So it would make sense to expand the definition of printing to include the fabrication of three-dimensional objects in this manner.
Common Slicing Parameters To Consider & Understand For 3d Printing
In the slicing software the 3D model can be moved , Scaled , and rotated. Additionally, below you will find some of the more basic parameters you might want to better understand and become more familiar as they might be the first ones that need to be adjusted to get better 3D printing results!
Quality : The smaller the layer height the better the print quality will be. However, the print job will be longer since the printer has more layers to print.
Infill / Fill Pattern: This is the inside of the model the part you cannot see. It still affects the object because it is a big factor in the rigidity of the object. The more infill the heavier the object will be, more filament will be used , and the longer the print time will be.
Rafts, Skirts & Brims: These are all strategies that involve putting layers of filament down on the build plate before printing the 3D model.
Speed: Just like for printing a document there is usually a compromise between speed and quality. So to with 3D printing. The quicker the printing process the more compromise is made with regards to the precision of the print.
Retraction: Retraction refers to the distance the filament is retracted back into the extruder or printing head. Increasing the retraction can be one of the most important settings in reducing the strings associated with a 3D print.
Your options will also be impacted by the 3D printer you have. Some printers can use a wider variety of filaments than others.
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Send Your File To The Printer
Once you are ready to go, you need to get the file to your 3D printer. There are two main ways to do this. One is to load the file onto a data storage device , put it in the printer, and start your print job via the printers interface. The other option is to send the job remotely to a network enabled printer via your local network or the cloud. Remote printing is particularly helpful if you are not in the same location as your 3D printer.
What Is A 3d Printer
At first, 3D printing seem like a little bit of magic, we see that this amazing technology can help to build houses or any objects from our daily life. But how does it work?
First, lets go back to the basics and see what a 3D printer is. From metal to plastic or even chocolate, additive manufacturing gives life to a lot of different projects. There isnt just one type of 3D printer, there are a lot of existing machines, and a lot of different printing techniques.
Here is the basic 3D printing process: first, you need to get a 3D file. The 3D design is necessary while starting a 3D printing project, it the digital version of the project that you will 3D print.
Then, you will have to choose the 3D printing technology you need for your project. Each material has its own properties, your choice will totally depend on the nature of your project. Do you need a rapid prototype or an end-use product? Does your object have to be heat resistant, flexible or really resistant to stress? This choice is surely an important step in this process and it will define the quality and the coherence of your project.
After all of this, your 3D design will be sent to a 3D printer, to create a three-dimensional object, with a succession of layers. But, what are the different 3D printers on the market and how do they work?
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Straight Line Or Linear Movement G1
Perhaps the most commonly used command in any G-code file is G1. It instructs the printer head to move in a straight line along a specified axis/axes to an exact user-determined location. This command may be used along any one axis or along two/three axes.
The X, Y, and Z co-ordinates mentioned would normally be absolute points along the printing bed. However, using other commands like G91 can instruct the printer head to move at relative distances with respect to the existing position.
Along with the G1 command and the location co-ordinates, other commands like F and E are also used to specify the speed of movement and the amount of filament to be pushed through the nozzle of the extruder.
So, for example the code G1 X20 Y30 E10 F1200 would mean that the printer head is to move to x=20mm and y=30mm on the printer bed. While doing so, the printer has to push 10mm of filament through the extruder and move at the speed of 1200 mm/min. The unit of speed can be mm/min or mm/sec depending on the settings you create in the slicing software.
What Does A 3d Printer Extruder Do
Quite simply a 3D printer pushes filament through the system. Usually by pulling material from a filament reel and then pushing through the system and into the hot end.
Simple extruders are controlled by the 3D printers control board and are designed to supply the printer with enough filament to extruded material to the print platform.
As well as pushing material through the 3D print system an Extruder will also pull the material back through the printer.
Being able to push and pull material is an essential feature for basic print functions such as filament retraction.
Retraction is a process that pulls the material a few millimetres back through the system when the print head lifts from one section of the print to another.
The reason it retracts the filament is to help minimise stringing of the filament.
Another more advanced feature that appears on many new 3D printers is the ability to autoload and eject filaments. This process is handled by the sensor attached to or near the extruder that activates the extruder when a filament is inserted or the user highlights the filament should be ejected.
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What Is A 3d Printer Extruder
Take a look at any fused filament fabrication printer and youll see an extruder.
The extruders job is to push the filament from the filament reel to the hotend of the printer.
As there are many different materials and types of FFF 3D printer there are several types of the extruder. The differences between each filament type come down to the type of material and the position on the printer.
What Are The Advantages Of 3d Printing
If you are interested in 3D printers and the way they work, you will also have to understand all their advantages. Here are the main benefits of using additive manufacturing:
3D printing allows more flexibility for your business. When you need a part, you can just 3D print it. If you need to modify a part, you can also 3D print it. With an online 3D printing service such as Sculpteo, you can order the number of parts you need, there is no minimum, from 1 to 10K+ parts you only produce what you need, on-demand.
- Quick iteration
Additive manufacturing is a great solution if you need to speed up your product development. You will get better and more efficient iterations management. Time is money, and money is precious while running a business and developing projects. Saving time and quickening your whole product development cycle is a crucial part of your business.
One of the biggest advantages of 3D printing is the freedom offered by design. You can recreate all your ideas to transform them into actual objects. Even the most complex geometries can be printed. While using 3D printing you will be released from the limitations of traditional manufacturing. Creating a design for a layer-by-layer process such as 3D printing is also a bit different: a 3D design created for injection molding will not be adapted for 3D printing, for example.
- Improvement of the supply-chain
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What Software Do I Need For 3d Printing
Nearly all 3D printers accept files in what’s called STL format . These types of files can be produced by most any CAD software, from expensive commercial packages like AutoCAD to free or open-source products such as Google SketchUp and Blender. For those not inclined to make their own 3D files, 3D object databases such as MakerBot’s Thingiverse offer numerous 3D object files that can be downloaded and printed out.
Most 3D printers come with a software suite, either supplied on disk or available for download, that includes everything you need to get printing. The suites typically provide a program for controlling the printer and a slicer, which, in preparation for printing, formats the object file into layers based on the selected resolution and other factors. Some suites include a program to “heal” the object file by correcting problems that could interfere with smooth printing. The programs came out of the RepRap open-source movement, out of which hobbyist 3D printing developed. With some printers, you can choose the individual component programs to download rather than going with whatever is provided in the suite.
Metal 3d Printers: Manufacture Your Most Resistant Parts
Direct Metal Laser Sintering or DMLS: 3D printers for the DMLS technology create parts additively by sintering fine metal powder particles, to fuse them together locally. It is quite similar to the SLS process we saw previously, the major difference is the sintering temperature. Indeed, polyamide needs to be sintered at a temperature of 160°C to 200°C, whereas metal melts at a temperature around between 1510°C and 1600°C meaning that a more high-wattage laser is needed to reach that temperature.
A roller will apply a layer of metal powder, then the laser will sinter the powder and the build platform will lower before applying a new layer of powder. The process is repeated until the desired 3D part is created! Once its finished, the 3D printed parts need to cool down.
Selective Laser Melting, SLM: This method creates parts additively by fusing metal powder particles together in a full melting process. With this SLM process, like for other additive manufacturing techniques, your metal part will be created layer by layer, according to your 3D model.
The build chamber of the 3D printer is filled with an inert gas in order to create the perfect conditions for the melting process. Indeed, unlike DMLS, SLM fully melts the powder, and therefore it needs to reach a higher temperature than this other metal 3D printing technique. This process allows the metal to form a homogeneous block with great resistance.
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More Cool Things About 3d Printing
From pencil holders to robotic arms, 3D printing can do a whole lot. What might have taken hours, days, and even months to build can now be 3D printed using this technology to create your unique designs quickly. Even though there are a lot of 3d printing ideas for you to start getting things printed, 3D printing technology is still incredibly new to many. So weâre going to answer some of the most common questions about 3D printing and turning things to 3D.
Can You Change The Nozzle In A 3d Printer
It is fairly easy to change the nozzle on your 3D printer. There are a few reasons why you might want to do this. First, the type of nozzle you are using can impact the final print.
If it is showing sign of wear then the print itself will not look as clean and accurate. They can control the flow of the filament out of the printer.
Another reason why you might want to consider changing the nozzle is to pick a model that will last longer. Most printers will come with a brass nozzle as standard. However, if you choose a stronger material, like stainless steel, it will be able to last longer. If you are using special filaments then changing the brass nozzle to hardened steel is a must.
Many specialty filament are extremely abrasive so check what nozzle you have installed before printing with them.
Its easy to change the nozzle. Youll need to heat the old one. Typically just use the preheat option for your printer if you have this.
This will loosen the threads slightly and should make it easier to remove. But be careful as you are now dealing with a very hot piece of brass or steel which could be around 220 degrees centigrade.
It might need to wear heat-proof gloves when you are taking them off. Turn off the machine and thread the new one on. When its tight you might want to warm it up. Then use a wrench to grip it and tighten it up being careful not to overtighten this!
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Strengths And Weaknesses Of Fdm And Sla Printers
Because FDM and SLA printers have become available for both hobbyists and professionals, they are the most common types of 3D printers. Consumer versions are available for a few hundred dollars and professional machines, used for prototyping and jig-making, are priced in the $3,000-6,000 range.
These are the 3D printing technologies in which you’re most likely to invest.
B Positive Temperature Coefficient
The PTC thermistor also offers variable resistance depending on temperature. As temperature increases, resistance rises from low to high and prevents the overcurrent.
PTC thermistors are used in certain scenarios rather than NTC thermistors. These are: in extreme temperature conditions, in equipment with almost zero-reset time such as digital thermometers, or in a system that experiences frequent shots.
How Does 3d Printing Affect The Supply Chain
3D printing is also ideal for low volume or short run manufacturing. While some companies need to churn out products in the thousands or millions, other companies need to produce a relatively small number of units or produce units on-demand.
Low-volume production is needed in a variety of applications:
Production for in-house use: A small number of internal departments or users can benefit from the build. Jigs and frameworks fit this need perfectly.
Test market production: A limited number of units are produced at a manageable cost to test for either suitability for sale, or functionality and performance of features. If buyers respond well, more units can be produced using traditional production means.
On-demand production: Units needed rarely, or in a back catalog can be “stored in the cloud” and produced only when needed. This allows a large warehouse of parts to be stored virtually, and yet made available to customers as needed.
Entrepreneurial ventures: Small numbers of units can be produced as proof-of-concept for crowdfunding or to provide to influencers and reviewers to create initial press and awareness of a product before full funding has been closed.
It’s this low-volume, on-demand capability that 3D printing provides that can be transformative to industry overall, not just manufacturing. By being able to quickly and inexpensively create and test new objects, it’s possible to innovate at a pace impossible with traditional means.