3D printing is a pretty interesting form of manufacturing technology in my opinion. This technology is continuing to grow and expand through the growth of various visionaries and companies such as Objet, Stratasys, and 3D Systems. These companies, as well as others, are working to push the envelope for this technology. Before we even go into that kind of detail, what does 3D printing actually consist of? What is it? Why would you even be interested in reading about it?
3D printing is a crazy form of manufacturing technology that can produce virtually whatever you'd like it to. If it can be designed, it can be made in many cases and materials. If it can be made on the computer through 3D modeling
and various scripts and software, then you can likely manufacture it. Let's talk about the actually process that goes into 3D printing. For 3D printing to work, like I said, a designer, engineer, artist, architect, or whatever will have to create a model on the computer. This model will then play a huge role in the process of 3D printing. For this processes to work, the file will obviously have to be sent to the 3D printing machine itself. When this happens, an operator may end up laying down all of the prints from within the build envelope tray on the computer. This will make sure that the models come out alright. After the models have been organized and laid out on the build envelope, a printer will then start to lay down material in accordance to the design. Essentially, the operator will have to press Go to start the procedure. Following the operator starting up the machine, the printer will then take the 3D model that we talked about earlier and utilize it.
3D printing revolves around a CAM system, or a computer aided manufacturing system. This means that the manufacturing process is aided by an automated computer program. This program will tell the printer to start working on a part that features the exact dimensions and characteristics of a 3D model. This model will eventually be built up based off of the printer's manufacturing processes. What are these processes?
There are quite a few methods of 3D printing in existence today, so I'll do my best to keep it relatively broad. One form of this technology is known as FDM, or fused deposition modeling. This procedure involves melting material out of a nozzle and laying down molten material in accordance to the design. Think about a hot glue gun shooting out melted glue, except think about that glue gun being able to move on multiple x, y, and z axis points. Other forms involve ultraviolet light curing a liquid resin into solid material. This process is called SLA, or stereolithography. Others involve lasers melting powdered material together. Another involves gluing powder together to form whatever shape necessary. Regardless of which type of 3D printing you decide to use, there are quite a few opportunities. I hope this article has helped you to get a better clue about 3D printing!