How do 3D printers work?
3D printing technology is making it easier and faster to produce objects with multiple moving parts and intricate design, and soon enough it will be affordable to have a top quality 3D printer at home for daily usage. This technology “of the future” will make us, in an ironic way, individual makers again, allowing us to completely change the structure of our lives and the world’s economy. Imagine anything you do now, and you can be sure it will be different later on. Whatever you may need at any given situation, a 3D printer will fix your need: a toy to babysit your neighbour’s child, an extra cup for your extra unannounced guest, boxes with perfect measures to organise your closet, a model for a school project, your own designed shoes, etc. So how do 3D printers work?
How do 3D printers work? – The Mechanism
3D printers work using Additive Manufacturing (AM), which is a means of creating an object by adding material to the object layer by layer. You can see some of the basic principles behind AM in caves; over thousands of years, dripping water creates layers and layers of mineral deposits, which accumulate to form stalagmites and stalactites. Unlike these natural formations, though, 3D printing is much faster and follows a predetermined plan provided by computer software. The computer directs the 3D printer to add each new layer as a precise cross-section of the final object.
How do 3D printers work? – The Process
When it comes to know how do 3D printers work, it all starts with making a virtual design of the object you want to create. This virtual design is made in a Computer Aided Design (CAD) file using a 3D modelling program (for the creation of a totally new object) or with the use of a 3D scanner (to copy an existing object). This scanner makes a 3D digital copy of an object and puts it into a 3D modelling program. To prepare the digital file created in a 3D modelling program for printing, the software slices the final model into hundreds or thousands of horizontal layers using a slicer software. When this prepared file is uploaded in the 3D printer, the printer creates the object layer by layer. The 3D printer reads every slice (or 2D image) and proceeds to create the object blending each layer together with no sign of the layering visible, resulting in one three dimensional object.
How do 3D printers work? – Ready to Go
Additive manufacturing and 3D printing specifically, continues to grow. Technology that started out as a way to build fast prototypes is now a means of creating products for the medical, dental, aerospace and automotive industries. 3D printing is also crossing over into toy and furniture manufacturing, art and fashion. So all you need is the knowledge of how do 3D printers work and you are ready to go!