3D printing has taken the world by storm in the last few years. 3D printing, even though has become popular now has been available for around 30 years. 3D printing is also known as additive manufacturing.
Firstly before the printing begins there needs to be a computer aided design. Through the computer aided design all errors and defects can be identified. This enables the user to verify their design. There are blueprints for certain designs which are freely available to everyone.
After ironing out the errors and perfecting the computer aided design which is in a STL file (file format to the computer aided design) it needs to be processed via software named ‘slicer’ which separates the design into layers. Thereafter the design can be printed. Printing could take hours or even days depending on the design.
The printing itself could use various materials such as 3D printing metals, plastic, nylon and many more. The duration of the printing depends on the material as well.
There are different processes of 3D technology.
This method was introduced by Scott Crump in 1988. The material extrusion method is where a semi liquid material is released out of a nozzle to create layer after layer. The material is fed into the printer in a solid state and then the printer heats it into a liquid. This is the most common 3D printing method used today. These machines are commercially available but at a smaller scale. The industrial models can range different sizes. It could be small enough to make miniscule items and ones that are big enough to create a chassis of a full sized car.
Created by Charles Hull 1984, it uses a controlled light source to harden a vat of liquid. The light beam traces the object on the surfaces of the liquid and the process continues till the whole object is made. Photopolymerization is more expensive than the material extrusion method but the prices have come down. This method is more detailed and has excellent surface quality.
This method sprays a binder onto different layers of powder. This also can spray coloured ink to the object. This also a 3D printer for metal and can create 3D models completely made out of metal. There two methods to do this, The first method involves making a sand cast and pouring the molten metal into it and the second includes spraying the binder onto a print head and metal powder is used on it multiple times.
Power bed fusion
Power bed fusion uses a laser or any other heat source to fuse powder layers. Building materials include plastic, nylon and most types of metal. This method is very expensive and complex but is currently being used to for many purposes.
There are other 3D printing methods as well but these are the more popular. 3D printing brings us limitless opportunities. It will revolutionize our industries and create better quality and perfect products for all of us.