3D printers are the new trend today. Almost anything can be 3D printed including food, a working gun, house, car, prosthetic, rockets or even clothes. Almost everything is possible with 3D printing. In fact, there’s a growing number of individuals who are loving 3D printing. If you want to know more about 3D printing and the best 3D printing objects that you can produce from this technology, read more.
What is 3D Printing?
3D Printing or additive manufacturing, as its name suggests allows you to print objects in 3D. Yes, you read it right, when using a 3D printer, you can touch and feel the product. In fact, aside from touching it, they are also efficient and useful. You can use the 3D printed object according to its purpose.
For instance, if you 3D print a ball pen organizer, you can put your pens in there. If you 3D print a food, you can eat it and if you 3D print a gun, you can use it. 3D printing is a very useful technology, it takes printing to a brand new level that you will surely enjoy.
3D Printing Process
We normally draw and print in 2D but 3D printing takes this process into a whole new level. It enables you to build real objects from virtual 3D objects. 3D printing is done by dividing the virtual object in 2D slices. The slices are printed individually and it is placed on top of each other, thereby giving thickness and volume to the 3D printed object. As the slice piles on, it adds volume and weight to the 3D printed object, giving it the look and feel of a real object.
3D printing process usually starts with a computer aided design (CAD) package. You can either use a 3D scanner or plain digital camera and a photogrammetry software. CAD is a great tool because it allows you to correct your model before printing, thereby, reducing the chances of errors.
CAD produces an STL file, which you will use when 3D printing but prior to 3D printing, STL file should be checked to make sure that it is free from errors. When generating an STL it includes the “repair” fixes feature to help you fix the problem. STL produced from 3D scanning usually contains these errors.
If the STL files not need any editing, you will need to process with a software called “slicer.” This particular software converts the STL file into a series of thin layers and produces a G-code file containing instructions that are tailored to a specific type of 3D printer. From the loads of G-code you can instruct the 3D printer during the 3D printing process.
Overall, the process of 3D printing is fast and less expensive. For instance, if yo construct a model with contemporary method the process may take hours or days. Of course, depending on the method used, size and complexity but the additive system or 3D Printing process can reduce the time to just a few hours.
On the other hand, while traditional techniques like injection moulding appears to be less expensive when mass producing polymer products, additive manufacturing is better in producing small quantities of parts because it is faster, cheaper and more flexible.
Benefits of 3D Printing
3D printing is a great and fun activity but aside from this, it offers more. Perhaps, you are wondering if 3D printing is necessary or if it offer any benefits? Well, we say, yes to all. Here are some benefits that you can enjoy in 3D Printing.
Boosts your creativity – With 3D printing you can bring to life almost anything that comes up in your mind. If you are creative, the opportunities are limitless.
Less expensive manufacturing – Less expensive manufacturing – If you are into business and you spend too much on your traditional manufacturing method, you can cut cost with 3D printing by about 70%. In fact, large companies like Converse and Alessi are already using this. So, how does 3D printing makes your manufacturing processes cheaper? 3D printing has lower shipping and packaging cost related to overseas parts suppliers, less human resource and cheaper raw materials. Do not mistake 3D objects as cheaper than their mass-produced counterparts. These items only become cheap due to improved additive manufacturing techniques, cheap consumables, main stream adoption and self-replicating practices.
Fast Production – One of the perks in 3D printing over the traditional method is its speed. As mentioned, 3D printers can manufacture most objects in a matter of hours, while the traditional method may take days or even weeks.
Less waste – Producing metals and plastic has a wasteful process that may harm the environment. On the other hand, using additive marketing or 3D printing only uses less energy and reduces waste to a minimum. Although 3D printed objects are 60% lighter they are as durable as their machine counterpart.
Produced better results – Although 3D printing and the traditional method can produce the same output, the quality is different. 3D printing produces better results because it assembles the object layer by layer, which allows you to have full control on how you build your product. It gives you an outlet to manufacture the perfect object.
Accessibility – 3D printing is the new trend today and more and more are getting access to it because it gives one an outlet to create the item that they need, when they need it. For instance, if you need a stand for your iPad, you can create one with 3D printer.
Sustainability – As mentioned earlier, compared to the traditional method, additive manufacturing produced lesser waste, which makes it environment-friendly. It also comes with a multi-purpose characteristic, which mean that you can build different objects without using any specialised machine. It also includes a digital system, which makes the 3D model accessible and ready to print anywhere it is needed, minimizing transport cost.
Flexibility in structure and material– The traditional manufacturing methods is not as flexible with 3D printing. For instance, it depends on the moulds and cutting technologies available to produce an object. Sometimes, you have to create it from several parts and assemble it together. But this approach has changed big time with the flexibility of 3D printing. 3D printers nozzle can create every shape you imagine. This approach gives your objects more durability and higher structural integrity.
Aside from allowing you to produce any shapes and structures, 3D printing is also flexible when it comes to raw materials. The additive manufacturing process allows you to use different raw materials, which is not always possible with mass-manufacturing due to several reasons including high costs and the difficulty in combining physical and chemical properties. 3D printing removes most of these boundaries, which gives companies the opportunities to provide different finishes in their 3D printed object including the look and feel of metal, bronze, ceramics and wood to name a few.
Opens New Business Models
With 3D printing’s flexibility, accessibility and sustainability, building a new business model is easy-breezy. It also allows you to personalize items, which is a great attraction for your customers. In fact, Shapeways and Sculpteo are taking advantage of 3D printing to boom their marketing by targeting businesses and individual customers. In both stores, you can upload your 3D models or get access to their community for 3D modelling support and choose the material you prefer, the color you desire and wait for the delivery of the finished product on your doorstep. Customizing an item to cater the exact need, want, measures of the customer is a great customer service that any shopper will surely enjoy and appreciate. Also check 3D pens for drawings.
One of the benefits in using 3D printing is you can verify the design before spending for an expensive molding tool. 3D printing a test prototype is cheaper, faster and more convenient than the traditional method because you can redesign or alter an existing prototype without getting another mold. Overall, additive manufacturing gives you more flexibility and peace of mind. It offers everything you need.
3D printers are used for a number of applications. In fact, it can help with construction, prototyping, and medicine. Due to its fast turnaround time and cheaper cost, 3D printing is actually more preferred.
For instance, 3D printing organs are now possible, which is a potential solution to the shortage of organ donors. 3D printing applications also include prosthetics, tools and even food production.
You can see more 3D printing applications here.
3D printer is experiencing a growing popularity as more and more enjoy 3D printing. We hope that this page has answered the question: “what is 3d printing.” More importantly, we hope that this gives you a good grasp and understanding of this technology.
If you have additional questions about 3D printing, feel free to contact us.