You may have heard about 3D printers and are unsure about what these machines entail and what it is exactly that they produce, so here we’ll take a look at what these printers have to offer, the common features that are included and generally give you a closer look at how they operate and the different types of technology that is available, as well as what they cost, should you decide to buy a 3D printer.
What 3D Printing Really Is
3D printing involves the creation three dimensional objects that are solid, with the use of a high-tech printer. These printers are able to produce hearing aids, prosthetic limbs, clothing, gifts, toys and a number of other items.
The first step in the 3D printing process is to come up with an original idea with the use of animation modeling software or digital modeling.
Regardless of the program that’s chosen, the user will be able develop a virtual blueprint of the object they desire to print.
This blueprint program will then divide the object into cross sections, which enables the printer to build it on a layer by layer basis.
These cross sections of the blueprint will act as a guide for the machine, so that the object will be created in the exact shape and size that the user specified.
Once the design has been completed, it will then be sent to the 3D printer. The art of 3D printing has been characterized as additive manufacturing, which in essence means that a three dimensional object has been constructed by adding numerous material in layer form.
After the design form has been sent to the printer, the user will then choose a certain type of material, which will depend on the type of printer as well as the item that’s being created. The material can be polyurethane, paper, metal or even plastic.
How the creation process works will vary by printer, but typically, the material will be squeezed or sprayed and then transferred onto a platform.
The printer will make passes over the platform and deposit layer on top of layer, the materials that have been chosen to create the product. This can take many hours or even days, depending on the complexity and size of the item that’s being printed. The average printer layer is usually a hundred micrometers, or .1 millimeters. All throughout this process, the layers will automatically be fused in order to create a single object.
Different Types of 3D Technology
One of the more basic approaches to 3D printing is using direct printing. Direct printing will involve the use of inkjet technology, which has been available since the late 1960’s. This type of technology works by the nozzle moving in a back and forth motion, dispensing fluid. This allows for the nozzles to create the multiple layers of material over the same surface.
Another type of 3D printing technology is called binder printing, which involves the use of inkjet nozzles to apply a specific type of liquid, in order to form a layer. This type of technology differs from direct printing, as binder printing will involve the use of two different types of materials that will come together in order to form each layer, in addition to a dry powder and a liquid glue.
The binder printer will make a couple of passes in order to form a layer, with the first pass rolling out a thin coat of powder and the last pass using the nozzle in order to apply the glue, also referred to as the binder. The platform will then lower in order to accommodate each new layer of powder, with the process repeating until the item has been created.
Who Should Buy a 3D Printer
The use of this type of technology can potentially transform numerous industries, such as the medical field. Even now, there are scientists that are looking into creating meat products with the use of a 3D printer, which would have a huge impact on the environment.
While these printers could potentially have a profound effect all over the world, this type of technology does have quite the drawback, which comes in the form of cost.
The smaller models are designed to print items such as small gadgets or toys and have a cost that ranges from eight hundred to a thousand dollars. The larger models can have a prince range of fourteen to fifty thousand dollars.
Some of the other cons for 3D printers will include the controversy around creating guns or even copyright infringement.
Now that you know how these printers work and the different types of technologies that are available, if you decide you would like to buy a 3D printer, you can begin by doing some research on different manufacturer’s websites, or by comparison shopping online.
Regardless of the aforementioned issues and controversy surrounding this technology, there is still a significant market for these machines, over a billion dollars to be exact, with the numbers expected to reach well over three billion in the next three years. This growth potential has many people wondering if this type of technology can in fact change the world as we know it.