A 3D printer is a kind of quick prototyping appliance which is fast, affordable, as well as easy to use. This machine is normally used in aerospace, structural design, footwear, automotive, medical industries, industrial design, and jewellery. 3d printers are available in compact size thus they can be used in the office environment. Generally, it is limited to parts that will fit roughly in a cube of 8 inches on each side. These printers have smaller part size, they entail much less, or even no training at all compared to RP machines. But simplicity comes at the expense of flexibility. Unlike rapid prototyping machines, you may not be able to adjust or select many build parameters.
Including material, system maintenance, machine depreciation, and labour, rapid prototyping machines can costs twice as much as 3d scanning machines. Rapid prototyping machines are more accurate, thus produce better output than 3D printers produce. 3D printers do not provide the same variety of materials as RP machines. But it is possible to make sufficiently functional parts for many applications, and the materials available are definitely appropriate for concept modelling.
The most remarkable things of these 3D printers are that they are capable of creating items that contain moving parts as well. Separate bits are not needed to create and then put them together. Providing you with a computer program to create a complete item in, you can print it in 3D and move the relevant parts as soon as it comes out of the printer. This is how versatile and exciting the printers are. And the best part is that these printers are easily available online where you just have to select the best one for yourself. In addition, these online printers are available with heavy discounts and home delivery facility.
Including material, system maintenance, machine depreciation, and labour, rapid prototyping machines can costs twice as much as 3d scanning machines. Rapid prototyping machines are more accurate, thus produce better output than 3d Printing produce. 3D printers do not provide the same variety of materials as RP machines. But it is possible to make sufficiently functional parts for many applications, and the materials available are definitely appropriate for concept modelling.
Which method of rapid prototyping or 3d Printing is the fastest? This is a great question to take into consideration when thinking about purchasing a 3D printer. I’ll answer this question in reverse order from the slowest to the fastest methods.
This method isn’t 3D printing, but I wanted to mention it. Machining is a traditional form of manufacturing which has the power to do some pretty cool stuff, but it doesn’t hold up against the speed of 3D printing. This applies to all forms of manufacturing, but the speed depends heavily on the design and material that you are creating something with. Traditionally, machining takes hours on top of hours, days, and sometimes weeks to manufacture parts. Yet again, this depends on the design, but if you were to order a part from a machine shop it would likely take a week or longer.
The slowest form of 3D printing would be Fused Deposition Modeling, or FDM technologies. This is a CAM system that involves the melting of material from a string on a spool. A nozzle will draw on a string of material from a spool, and the material will be melted by the heat off of the nozzle. Think of a hot glue gun as a similar analogy. Material (or glue) will be shot out of the hot nozzle (the nozzle on the hot glue gun) and melted on to a build table. The layers of melted material will be stacked up until the final product is completed. This form of manufacturing is very quick, as products can be created within a matter of hours, it just isn’t as fast as other methods.
A quicker method of 3D printing that I will talk about is DMLS, or Direct Metal laser Sintering. This process consists of a 3D printer laying down layers of metal in powdered form. As one layer of metal is laid down, the printer will melt it together in accordance to the design with a laser. Another layer is laid down, and the process repeats until the final product emerges. One could argue that this method of 3D printing is faster than inkjet printing, but I am ordering DMLS as 3rd place, as many manufacturing processes involve the melting of other metal alloys to be used in conjunction. For example, after a print is made of stainless steel, sometimes bronze alloy powder will be placed around the product, put in a box of some kind, and placed in a furnace so that the bronze will melt into the stainless steel. This melting process takes a few hours on top of the original print which also takes a few hours.
Ink jet 3D printing is very fast, and at the same time very similar to DMLS. Layers of powder are laid down just like they are in DMLS methods, except the powders aren’t fused together by lasers. Rather, they are held together by an adhesive chemical. The final product is removed from the 3D printing machine, and the excess powder is brushed off in preparation for infiltration. The product is usually very weak, and filled with around 40% air. A super glue like chemical or epoxy is dripped over the product, where it will then form inside of the product to strengthen it. This post-preparation leaves this method behind traditional SLS methods.
SLS, or selective laser sintering is very similar to DMLS. In fact, it is practically the exact same kind of 3D printing. The only difference would be that there is virtually no post-preparation for the product, it is taken from the printer and ready to go!
The fastest form of 3D printing is Stereolithography, or SLA 3D Printing. This method involves an ultraviolet beam of light hitting resins that are sensitive, which solidify. This process moves incredibly quick, and results in a product (depending on the design) being prepared in a couple hours.
3D printing is beginning to affect quite a few aspects of what we do every day, particularly if you are involved with a variety of hobbies. Before we jump into the aspects 3D printing touches on, let me briefly cover what 3D printing is. This technology is a form of manufacturing that unlike CNC cutting, is geometrically independent. For those who aren’t familiar with manufacturing, that means that designers hardly have to worry about how they design models; especially the model involves a hollow space, or organic shapes. 3D printing is not a form of milling; it is a layer by layer process. For the process to happen, a 3D designer will create a blueprint, or 3D model. This model will be sent to a 3D printer, and the advanced computer will tell the machine exactly where to create each detail of the product. The machine will lay down layers of a specific powder which varies on material; this powder will be as thin as a few microns. Per each layer, dependent on the 3D printer being used and the material, the machine will either fuse the powders together through laser melting, or through an adhesive chemical. The fusing process takes place at each miniature layer. What ends up happening, is that the fusing process bonds hundreds of miniature layers together to form a final product. A product that is 4 inches tall might be 450 layers thick. This assures fine and absolute detail.
The final product will be a product with exceptional detail (depending on material & machine) surrounded by unused powder which will then be recycled in the machine. So, in a nutshell, 3D printing is the layer by layer creation of almost any shape. How can this form of manufacturing that you never heard of apply to your life?
3D printing allows for the creation of almost any shape from such a wide variety of materials. There are over 60 materials to choose from! If you’re thinking about proposing to your girlfriend, you’ll probably buy a ring that was wax-casted through 3D printing. If you work for some kind of an engineering firm, you probably will end up using 3D printing to prototype designs. In fact, a valve for an oil and gas company here in Houston was just prototyped this morning at my office. Perhaps you work in some kind of mechanical industry; let’s say you’re a gunsmith. When looking at creating a custom firearm, you may have difficulty manufacturing the miniature pieces for the interior of a weapon; 3D printing can definitely save the day there! Maybe you are a hobbyist that enjoys scale modeling of some kind. When it comes down to creating your model ship, plane, or medieval character, you can design and create it through 3D printing! Last week a miniature army of spaceships came through our shop, and it was pretty interesting to say the least. Perhaps you need to restore a machine of some kind from decades ago. Maybe the interior of a slot machine or a cooler of some kind was produced in the 1920’s. Finding each individual part would be horrible! Keep in mind with 3d Printers, you could design and create each individual piece. 3D printing has the option to impact us in quite a variety of aspects!
3d Printing is an interesting form of technology when you think about it. For those of you who don’t know what 3D printing is, it is a form of manufacturing also called additive manufacturing. This technology allows for the creation of virtually any shape out of a large variety of materials to choose from. These materials consist of ceramics, thermoplastics, and metals, including precious metals. There are over 60 materials to choose from. This is great for prototyping products and designs, as they can be created in such a wide variety of materials. The rubber within a handheld phone can be prototyped, functional parts can be created, and snap on parts can be created. There is massive potential for creation!
So how does the 3D printing process work? Before anything begins to be prototyped, it has to be designed. A 3D developer will create a model on the computer to be used as a blueprint for printing. On this model, thickness, ridges, and curves will be drawn out on every aspect of the model. One side note about 3D printing – it has almost entire geometrical independence on some machines. By that I mean almost any shape can be designed to be manufactured. Some forms of manufacturing like milling or CNC cutting don’t offer this kind of independence, as they are designed to be cut by a drill. With milling and CNC cutting, 3D developers have to design products a specific way and are limited in what can be created. Not quite the same with 3D printing.
After the model is developed and ready to be used for manufacturing, the computer file will be sent to a 3D printer – or the machine used to manufacture models through the process of 3D printing. When a product is manufactured on a 3D printer, it is done like this: The printer will lay down layers of powder as thin as a few microns.
(The diameter of a human hair is around 20 microns) These industrial 3D printers will then proceed to fuse these layers together, one miniature layer at a time. The process of fusing these layers together consists of precise laser melting, or the use of adhesive chemicals. So imagine that! The 3D printing process has a laser melting miniature layers of powder together, or a jet is gluing these powders together. The levels of precision are ridiculous with this technology! If a designer can access a 3D scan of a person’s face, it can be printed… in color! The process is very interesting; the layers of powder I mentioned earlier will keep stacking and fusing. These layers are very small; it might take 400 layers to create a product only a couple inches tall. This powder being laid down will consist of a specific material. The powder could be metals, thermoplastics, or ceramics. Over 60 materials are available within 3D printing. So, in a nutshell, 3D printing is the layer by layer laser melting or adhesive fusion of one of over 60 materials in accordance to a computer blueprint. 3D printing can create virtually any shape unlike other forms of manufacturing, and offers a wide variety of material choices.