Step-by-step … This is how 3D printing works


How it works?
The 3D printing process begins with creating a visualization of the object to be printed, and is usually designed using a software suite, the most prominent of which is computer-aided design technology. One of the main benefits of 3D printing is that it allows for a quick prototype setup for almost anything.

After design, the next stage is to digitally slice the pattern for printing. This step is vital because 3D printing cannot position the 3D model in the same way as the average person would imagine. The cutting process divides the model into multiple layers, and then the design of each layer is sent to the printer head for printing or arrangement.

The writer mentioned that 3D printers are able to print strong materials at low density through the calculated addition of air pockets within the final product. Once the slicing program finishes its job, the data is sent to the printer for the final stage.

In other words, depending on the type of printer being used, the 3D printer begins printing the pattern according to the specific instructions of the cutting program.

For example, direct 3D printing uses a technique similar to the inkjet technology used in paper printers, as nozzles move forward, backward, and up and down to distribute thick wax or plastic polymers that harden to form each new cross-section of the 3D object.

In documented 3D printing, inkjet nozzles apply a fine dry powder and liquid glue that come together to form each printed layer.

In an optical polymerization print, drops of liquid plastic are exposed to a laser beam from ultraviolet radiation that turns the liquid into solid.

“Felting” is another 3D printing technology that involves melting and merging molecules to print each successive layer. This technology uses laser to dissolve the flame-retardant plastic powder, which then hardens to form the printed layer. Generally, 3D printing may take hours or even days, depending on the size and complexity of the project.

Regardless of the type of 3D printer used, the overall printing process is usually the same, and can be summarized in these steps:

    Produce a 3D model using the computer aided design program.
    Convert computer designed drawing to standard mosaic coverage language.
    Transfer the file to the computer that controls the 3D printer, and then the user chooses the size and direction of the print.
    3D printer setup, as each device has its own requirements.
    The printer starts to work, while the operator waits until construction is complete. The device should be checked regularly during this time to make sure there are no errors.
    Remove the printed shape from the device.
    The final step is the post-processing stage, as many 3D printers require some kind of post-processing, such as cleaning any remaining powder, and the new design may need to be treated.

What can you do?
3D printers are incredibly versatile, they can theoretically make almost anything, but they are limited by the types of materials used and the design size. You can also print using plastic, cement, metal, and even animal cells, but most of these printers are designed to use only one type of this material.

Among the shapes that a 3D printer can create are prosthetics and other body parts, homes and other buildings, food, medicine, and clothing, as well as medical devices.

What types of programs do you use?
Various computer aided design programs use a variety of file formats, but the most common are the following:

    STL, which is a three-dimensional formula that can handle only one color, is usually used in most desktop 3D printers.
    Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML), which is a modern file format that is usually used for printers that have more than one inkjet device, and can also build multi-color models.
    GCode, which is a file format that can contain detailed instructions for a 3D printer, helping it to continue building each piece.
    Other formats, as some manufacturers of other types of 3D printer have their own file formats.

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