How does 3D printing work: a quick guide
So you hear a lot about 3D printing and you are even considering to buy a 3D printer but first of all you really would like to clear one ultimate question: how does 3D printing work?
If this is your case, it’s simple: you should think about a 3D printed object as a Lego construction that is build layer by layer – this is the best image to understand how does 3D printing work. And how? Traditional manufacturing works on a subtractive manufacturing logic, taking parts from a main structure. That’s what happens when you are forging, molding or sculpting a piece. On the opposite side there’s 3D printing that works on an the additive manufacturing logic, adding material layer by layer, which means that layers of filament will be added on its own time to create the final object you desire.
So, now that you know how does 3D printing work, here’s some basics about the process to understand the tools you’ll need to have to start 3D printing.
1. Modeling: The blue print of your object
To start 3D printing you must have the blueprint of your object and for that you’ll need a modeling software. If this is a problem for you, don’t panic: you can find some good websites to download STL models for free.
2. Slicing: The slicer software
Before you can reach the printer, there’s still a very important step: the slicing. On this step, your digital model is turned into the toolpath understood by 3D printers. That’s why this step is crucial and you must use a good slicer for that.
3. Printing: The 3D printer
The printing part is the most common image we see when we ask ourselves how does 3D printing work but actually it couldn’t be done without the previous two steps. The slicer will produce a G-code file that will give instructions to your printer and your print will happen by adding all layers of the object together.