This is the foremost eye-catching development in the printing industry since Gutenberg invented the printing press 600 years ago; it was the machine that can make many copies of almost anything in, but this time in 3D. It sounds like science fiction, but 3D printing is already in use, creating hearing aids, jewelry, and even parts for NASA.
Now technology is becoming available to anyone, meaning you can turn your garage into a small factory by setting up a 3D printer. So what would you build using the 3d printer if you could create anything? Let’s Have a look.
Here, we will give you all the information and details regarding 3D printing, helping you understand the 3D printing technology’s current state.
What is 3D printing? How does 3D printing works? Who invented 3D printing? What are 3D Printing Processes? What is 3D printing used for? (Applications of 3D printing) What are the benefits and limitations of 3D printing? What is 3d printing software? How much is 3d printing service? And much more. Here, we answer all these questions, and if we missed anyone, feels free to ask in the comment section. So Let’s get started with the first question, “What is 3d printing? And How does 3D printing works?”
What is 3D Printing?
If you haven’t heard of 3D printers yet, you don’t know anything about the tech industry, and you will be far behind in the future world.
Definition: 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is a process of creating a physical object from a digital model where an object is created by depositing the material layer by layer based on a digital model.
In simple words, 3D printing is a construction method of a three-dimensional object from a CAD model or a digital 3D model in which materials are deposited, joined, or solidify under a computer control system to create a three-dimensional object with the material being added, typically layer by layer.
3D printers are the newest bridge between science-fiction and fact. It’s a machine that promises to create almost anything you want. 3D printing is a deeply flexible method for production and rapid prototyping. In recent years, it has been creating a ripple effect in many industries worldwide.
How Does 3D Printing Works?
A 3D printer works very similarly to an inkjet printer, except instead of squirting ink to paper, it layers solid materials upwards to create three-dimensional objects. The first step in 3D printing is to create a blueprint of the object you want to print. You can use modeling software like Blender to create your own design, or you can visit websites like Thingiverse or Shapeways to find objects other users have a 3D model.
Once you have finished the design, it’s time to send it to the printer. Working entirely automatically, the printer receives the data. It creates a model over time by turning a 3D CAD drawing into lots of 2-dimensional, cross-sectional layers—effectively separate 2D prints that sit on top of another without the paper in between. The printer’s software program slices this model into thin, 2-dimensional layers, which turned into a set of instructions in machine language (G-code) for the printer to perform.
When the printer receives the data, it pulls the material through a tube, melts it, and deposit it to the plate where it instantly cools. Instead of utilizing ink, which might by no means construct as much as a lot of quantity, the printer deposits layers of molten plastic or powder and fuses them through a tube, melt it, and deposit it to the plate where it instantly cools with adhesive or ultraviolet light.
In recent years, 3D printing innovations have transformed everything from automobile parts to human bio-tissues. Plastics, resins, and even metals are then slowly fused and molded until the object is fully manufactured. In 3D printing, there are no special tools required for cutting or molding.
Who Invented 3D Printing?
The general concept and procedure used in 3D-printing were first described by Raymond F. Jones in his story, “Tools of the Trade.” He referred to it as a “molecular spray” in that story.
The sci-fi author, Arthur C. Clarke, was the first to describe a 3D printer’s essential functions back in 1964, then the first 3D printer, which used the stereolithography technique, was created by Charles W. Hull within the mid-1980s.
In 1986, Hull founded 3D Systems, a corporation that sells 3D printers that use various technologies. They vary from entry-level kits to advanced commercial systems, and 3D Systems also provides on-demand parts services, mostly to business users.
Other 3D printing techniques were released in the nineties and early twenties, including FDM by Stratasys and SLS by 3D Systems. These printers were expensive and were mainly used for industrial prototyping. Later, in 2009, the ASTM committee F42 published a document containing standard terminology on additive manufacturing. It established 3D printing as an industrial manufacturing technology.
Process of 3D Printing
All 3D printing processes require software programs, hardware, and materials to work together correctly. Each 3D printer constructs parts based on the same cardinal principle: a digital model is converted into a physical three-dimensional object by adding material one layer at a time. This is where the alternative word Additive manufacturing comes from.
3D printing is a different method of parts production than traditional subtractive (CNC machining) or formative (Injection molding) manufacturing technologies. It does not matter what type of 3D printer is used; the overall printing process is usually the same.
The process of 3D printing begins by creating a graphic model of the object to be printed. These are normally designed using Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software, which can be the most labor-intensive part of the process.
After the design, the next step is to slice the model to obtain it for printing digitally. This is an important step because a 3D printer cannot conceptualize a 3D model in the same way. The slicing process breaks the model into several layers. The design for each layer is sent to the printer head to print or rolled in order.
The slicing process is usually accomplished using a unique slicer program. This slicer software will handle the “fill” by creating a lattice structure inside a solid model for additional stability. Once the slicer program has played its magic, the data is sent to the last step printer.
From here on, the 3D printer handles itself. It will start printing out the model according to the precise instructions of the slicer program using various methods depending on the type of printer used. The 3D process can take hours or even days, depending on the project’s size and complexity.
Several different branded additive manufacturing processes can be divided into seven categories:
Types of 3D printing
The ISO/ASTM 52900 standard classified all different types of 3D printing under one of these seven groups:
- Material Extrusion (FDM): Material is selected through a nozzle or aperture.
- Vat Polymerization (SLA & DLP): Uses a vat of liquid photopolymer resin selectively cured by UV light.
- Powder bed fusion (SLS, DMLS, and SLM): A high-energy source selectively fuses powder particles.
- Material Jetting (MJ): The droplets of material are used to deposit a liquid photoreactive material onto a build platform layer upon layer.
- Binder jetting (BJ): The fastest form of 3D printing for metal, ceramics, and more.
- Direct Energy Deposition (LENS, LBMD): A focused thermal energy is used to fuse materials by melting as they are deposited.
- Sheet lamination (LOM, UAM): Thin Sheets of material are bonded and formed layer by layer.
Standard methods of 3D Printing
There are numerous types of 3D printers out there, but we’ll only focus on two: fused-deposition modeling (or FDM) and stereolithography (or SLA).
Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM)
It is also known as fused filament fabrication (FFF). This method of 3D printing heats up and extrudes plastic material. This is common in both consumer and professional 3D printers. Examples of this 3D printer include Makerbot Replicator and Ultimaker 2.
FDM starts with a roll of filament as its source material. They usually come in 1.75 or 2.85 millimeter thick strands, rolled on a spindle. In FDM, a spool of filament is loaded into the printer and then supplied to the extrusion head, equipped with a heated nozzle. Once the nozzle reaches the desired temperature, a motor operates the filament through an extrusion nozzle and reduces the layers on a build surface.
The layers are incredibly thin, so the printer moves the extrusion head to keep the molten material in the exact locations where it cools and solidifies (like a precision hot-glue gun). When a layer is finished, the build platform moves down, and the process repeats until the part is complete. The part is usually ready to use after printing, but it might require some post-processing, such as removing the support structures or surface smoothing.
FDM is the most cost-effective way of producing custom thermoplastic parts and prototypes. It also has the shortest lead times – as fast as next-day-delivery – due to the technology’s high availability. A wide range of thermoplastic materials is available for FDM, suitable for prototyping and functional applications.
As for limitations, FDM has the lowest dimensional accuracy and resolution compared to the other 3D printing technologies. FDM parts are likely to have visible layer lines, so post-processing is often required for a smooth surface finish. Additionally, the layer adhesion mechanism makes FDM parts inherently anisotropic. This means that they will be weaker in one direction and are generally unsuitable for critical applications.
This method of 3D printing uses UV light to cure or harden resins, layer by layer. Example 3D printers include Autodesk Ember and Formlabs Form 1.
The SLA begins with a liquid resin as its root material. A build tray is lowered into the resin, then Light (LCD or an ultraviolet laser) creates a chemical reaction in the resin that hardens. As each layer is exposed to light, the printer elevates the build platform slightly above the resin pool, lighting the next layer.
After printing, the part should be cleaned with resin and exposed to a UV source to improve its strength. Next, the support structures are removed and, if a high-quality surface finish is required, additional post-processing steps are carried out.
SLA printing is considered one of the higher and printing Technologies because the object can have a smooth, detailed feature with apparent Precision, high dimensional accuracy, intricate details, and a smooth surface finish ideal for visual prototypes. It can be made with various special materials, such as transparent, flexible, castable, and biocompatible resins or materials designed for specific industrial applications are also available.
Generally, SLA parts are more brittle than FDM parts, so they are not best suited for functional prototypes. Also, SLA parts must not be used outdoors, as their mechanical properties and color degrade when exposed to UV radiation from the sun. Support structures are always required in SLA, which may leave small blemishes in the surfaces they come in contact with that need extra post-processing to remove.
Applications of 3D Printing
3D printing technology changes the way we produce objects and is being used to create everything from prototypes and simple parts to extremely specialized products such as airplane parts, eco-friendly buildings, life-saving medical implants even artificial organs using human layers cells. It’s a tech revolution taking place in houses across the world.
Imagine a world where you can create anything just by pressing “print.” Now, 3D printers have arrived, and they promise a fascinating and lucrative future, based on what we build. Three-dimensional printing promises more sustainable and new opportunities for local production.
In the current scenario, 3D printing has been used in the human and development fields to use various medical items, prosthetics, parts, and repairs. In the medical world, doctors are testing biomaterials for regenerative medicine. By using the patient’s cells, doctors could 3D print small body parts like ear and noses. Some surgeons have even tested 3D printed organs for transplants.
Hollywood uses 3D printing to make costumes like parts of the suit in Iron Man 2, and a professor in California plans to the 3D print house. Recently Giant 3D printers in China printed 10 houses in just one day at the cost of less than $5000 per house. Proving how cost and time-efficient 3D printing can be.
Also, This new technology is being used in Adidas shoes: The sportswear company says it is currently the world’s largest manufacturer of 3D-printed components.
Some commercial Plains are now outfitted with their dugs that are 3D printed, smoother, lighter, and cheaper than traditional methods. Aircraft manufacturer Airbus is already benefiting from the new construction method. Earlier this year, the A350 airliner would fly with a printed door locking shaft. Where the first ten parts were to be installed, today, it has reduced to just one. This saves a lot of manufacturing steps.
What is 3d Printing used for:
3D printing has clearly many applications in several industries and is used in.
- Prosthetic limbs and other body parts
- Consumer Goods
- Homes and other buildings
- Liquid structures
- Glass products
- Acrylic objects
- Movie props
- Musical instruments
How is 3d Printing used?
Some exciting examples of 3D-printed objects include, but are not limited to: –
- In early 2014, A Swedish supercar manufacturer Koenigsegg announced a supercar One:1, that utilizes many 3D printed components. Urbee is the first car in the world car mounted using 3D printing (its bodywork and car windows were “printed”). Also, In 2014, Local Motors introduced the Strati, a working vehicle fully 3D printed using ABS plastic and carbon fiber, excluding powertrains.
- In May 2015, the Airbus announced that its new Airbus A350 XWB included over 1000 parts produced by 3D printing. Then in the same year, the Eurofighter Typhoon Fighter Jet flew with printed parts. The United States Air Force has started working with 3D printers. Also, the Israeli Air Force has bought a 3D printer to print spare parts.
- In 2017, GE Aviation revealed that it used additive manufacturing to manufacture helicopter engines with 16 parts instead of 900, with significant potential impact on reducing supply chain complexity.
- In 2018, 3D printing technology was first used to create a matrix for cell stabilization in fermentation. Propionic acid production by propionibacterium acidipropionis stabilized on 3D-printed nylon beads was chosen as a design study. It was recorded that those 3D-printed beads were able to promote high-density cell attachment and propionic acid production, which could be adapted for other fermentation bioprocesses.
- In 2020, New York’s AI Spacefactory won a NASA competition to 3D-print a habitat for Mars or the Moon. AI SpaceFactory won first prize at NASA’s 3D-printed Habitat Challenge, which cost $ 500,000 (€ 439,800). Its design MARSHA won the NASA 3D-printed Habitat Challenge by successfully printing a ⅓ scale model with almost no human support in about 30 hours. The windows and doors were prefabricated, and the robot was lifted into place.
What are the benefits and limitations of 3D printing?
It is essential to understand that 3D printing is a rapidly developing technology. It comes with its unique set of advantages but also lags behind traditional manufacturing in some ways.
Here we summarize the most important benefits and limitations of 3D printing, taking into account the pros and cons of all 3D printing technologies currently available. Use them to understand where 3D printing stands today and where it is headed soon.
Benefits of 3D Printing
With 3D printing, designers can quickly turn concepts into 3D models or prototypes (a.k.a. “rapid prototyping”) and implement rapid design changes. People living in remote areas can fabricate objects that would be inaccessible to them.
Depending on usage, 3D printing has some other advantages over other production processes. These include, but are not limited to:
- Faster production: While slow at times, 3D printing can be quicker than conventional injection molding and subtractive production.
- Easily accessible: 3D printing has been around for a few decades now and has exploded since around 2010. There is now a wide variety of printers and software packages available (many are open-source), making it easy for almost anyone to Customize every part.
- Better quality products: 3D printing produces a consistent quality of the product. So as long as the model is accurate and fit for the purpose, the same type of printer is being used, the final product will always be of the same quality.
- Cost-effective: 3D printing can be a cost-effective means of production. Once the model is built, the process is usually automated, and raw material waste is limited.
- Product designs are almost infinite: Product designs are almost endless: 3D printing possibilities are almost limitless. So as long as it can be designed in CAD and the printer is large enough to print it, then there is no limit.
- 3D printers can print using various materials: Some 3D printers can actually blend or switch between materials. This can be difficult and expensive in traditional printing, but 3d printers have many (specialty) materials.
Limitations of 3D Printing
Like any other invention, 3D printing also has its flaws. As we have already seen, 3D-printers are astonishingly versatile. They can create almost anything you can think of. But they are limited by the type of materials they can use for “ink” and their size. For large-scale items, say a house, you’ll need to print individual pieces – or use a giant 3D printer.
3D printers can print in plastic, concrete, metal, and even animal cells. But most printers will be designed to use only one type of material. Below are some Limitations of 3D printing.
Size Limitations: Currently, 3D printers can only produce small-sized products and not large assembly parts. With continued research in this field, the future of large 3D printing buildings, such as buildings, may be possible, but we are still far from it. For this to happen, scientists may have to find a way to combine 3D printing with robotics and other tools in the construction process, such as digging and cranes.
High Energy Consumption: The printers capable of constructing houses will need a tremendous amount of energy. With the growing population, the power consumption is already so high that it will become a more challenging task to produce energy for such machines’ operation.
Lead to Harmful Emissions: When used in enclosed locations, 3D printers can reduce air quality by producing potentially toxic emissions. Research also suggests that during additive manufacturing, carcinogenic particles can be allowed to air. Ultrafine material can settle into a person’s bloodstream or lead their respiratory system to cancer and other diseases.
More expensive: Large 3D printing machines are available, but they cost an arm and a leg. You may have to pay more than through your nose to afford 3D printing hardware, software, and content. Industrial 3D printers have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, shutting down many businesses to access and use well-known technology. 3D printing is not competitive, like traditional manufacturing techniques, when it comes to large assemblies.
Too much plastic byproduct and not user friendly: Most standard 3D printers have a plastic filament. Due to the hype associated with this technology, many believe that 3D printers are useful and convenient for everyday consumer use. Creating models of synthetic raw materials reduce waste production, and machines still discard excess plastic waste. Plastic waste is eliminated in landfills and negatively affects the environment – the use of plastic limits the type of product made by 3D printing.
3D Printing Software
The process of 3D printing begins by making a graphic model of the object to be printed. These are usually designed using Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software packages TinkerCAD, Fusion360, and Sketchup. The slicing process is usually completed using a unique slicer program like CraftWare or Astroprint.
Various software packages can assist you in each step of the design process, from CAD design to STL repair and preparation. This section gives you a list of the best software for 3D printing to help you get started.
- Fusion 360
The process of converting an STL file into machine language (G-code) is called slicing. Here are some of the best and most popular slicing software out there today:
Nearly all 3D printers accept files in STL format. CAD software can create these files from expensive commercial packages like AutoCAD to free-open source products like Google SketchUp and Blender. For those who are not willing to create their own 3D files, 3D object databases such as MakerBot’s Thingiverse offer many 3D object files that can be downloaded and printed.
How much is 3D Printing Service?
Pricing depends on the following factors:
- Materials used
- Print time
- Filament usage
- Overhead charges
3D printing is a prolonged process and can take hours or even days to make anything from plastic. The cost of a 3D printer changes depending on the type of printer. Entry-level models intended for beginners can be found for around $200, while the average price is around $700, and excellent professional printers like Ultimaker, LulzBot, and MakerBot are available from $3,000 to $6,000.
The type of 3D printer you choose will depend on your industry, experience, desired applications, and the budget. It is worth considering the printer’s cost and the 3D printing material you will use with it. This includes the actual material used in the printer and the cost of SOLIDWORKS or other 3D printing software.
How expensive is 3D Printing?
3D printers are based on many different types of technologies. From simple $200 FDM machines to the most sophisticated ones, a 3D printer’s cost can vary from tens of thousands of dollars. If you are thinking to buy your own, then you need to find out which technology will match your needs.
If you are only keen on exploring this technology and marking your first experiments, then you can get a basic FDM 3D printer that will surely meet your needs for $200. Although products in this category are not fast and will not print thin, precise parts, short-range printers will help you familiarize yourself with the process at a low cost.
If you are looking for a 3D printer for your professional purposes, expect your 3D printer’s cost to start at $4000. You may wonder what justifies such a price difference. This is because printers below that range do not handle long production processes and cause repeated breakdowns.
As the cost of 3D printers increases, you will get into more sophisticated printing techniques. The entry price of an SLS 3D printer is around $ 5000, and such a purchase can be significant if you need to make complex items and avoid the printing period of an FDM 3D printer.
How fast is 3D Printing?
Object Size: The larger the print, the longer the time. A simple 1 cm by 1 cm by 1 cm cube would roughly take 20 minutes to print.
Layer thickness: The thinner the layers, the longer it would take to print.
Printer’s speed: The slower the speed, the slower the print time.
For example, printing a wheel with a 21 cm circumference at a speed of 60mm and a layer height of 0.1mm, it took 6 hours. For manufacturing work, a cube would take five seconds. A jet engine turbine blade would take about a day, assuming you were modeling it, not designing it. With the Ender 3, using a high detail printing resolution can take up to 4 hours to print a 28mm scale human fighter figure.
Will 3D Printing Replace Traditional Manufacturing?
As their name suggests, 3D printers can create three-dimensional objects from different materials. It has been used in manufacturing, medical, industrial, and sociological fields, allowing 3D printing to become a successful commercial technology. Traditional manufacturing techniques like milling, casting, and gluing could soon be replaced by 3D printing because 3D printing food is becoming very popular. Additive manufacturing has allowed for creating some pretty intricate treats.
They are going mainstream, showcasing retailers such as Staples, Best Buy, and Home Depot, and you can purchase many 3D printers and their supplies on Amazon.com and through other online outlets. Although still found on shop floors or in design studios in most schools or community centers, and on the hands of enthusiasts, 3D printers are increasingly found on workspaces, in rec rooms, and kitchens – and you probably have In a house, if not your own.
What is the Future of 3D Printing?
Over the years, we have seen an explosion in the variety and use of 3D printers. This is exactly where personal computing was done in 1908. While it is quite easy to see some areas in the field of 3D printing, others are beyond our ability to predict, as nobody thought around the 1980s, that it Will turn into a personal computer.
A variety of 3D printers are readily available for homes and small businesses, but they are still seen as foreign and expensive contraceptives.
Expect that to change within the next few years, when 3D printers become more common in homes – found on workspaces, in studios, in-home offices, and even kitchens. You may not find them in every household, but they will become indispensable to those who possess them.
For the most part, objects made with 3D printers had homogeneous interiors, but we would begin to see more complex creations combining multiple materials, composites, and printable electronics. With today’s 3D printers, if you lose your TV remote’s battery cover, it may be possible to print a replacement cover. With tomorrow, if you lose your remote, you will probably be able to print a new remote.
In addition, automotive companies such as Ford, Volkswagen, and BMW are already producing 3D-printed parts for their vehicles. At the end of 2018, BMW announced that it had fitted a one-millionth 3D-printed part for its BMW i8 Roadster.
3D printing is gaining a foothold in space. NASA is experimenting with 3D printers at the International Space Station. Eventually, 3D printers can be used to create habitats on Mars and other worlds.
Likewise, we will see 3D printers in Antarctic targets and other remote earthly locations, where people cannot wait six months for the next resupply to replace the necessary parts or equipment.
Medical applications of 3D printing are not closed with prosthetics, hearing aids, and dental crowns. Replacement parts should not be limited to mechanical. Dental will adopt 3D printing as a major production technology.
A SmarTech Analysis report states that 3D printer sales within the dental industry will surpass machining hardware sales by 2025. The technology will become the most leading production method for dental restoration and equipment worldwide by 2027.
A report by SmarTech Analysis indicates that 3D printer sales within the dental industry will exceed sales of machining hardware by 2025. The technology will become the leading production method for dental restorations and devices worldwide by 2027.
It is possible that 3D printing may not have the same impact on the consumer, everyday living standards as PCs. Nevertheless, it has the potential to revolutionize manufacturing and, perhaps even more importantly, bring it into the hands of everyday consumers. One thing is sure, however: 3D printing is here to stay.
We have viewed the use of 3D printing in the future; however, more than tons can be used in 3D printing, such as 3D printed supercar, jewelry, housewives, superior dental materials, and the third dimension of food, a 3D space odyssey, etc.
The trends discussed above reflect a major consideration: 3D printing is reaching maturity. Advances in hardware, software, materials, and applications suggest that 3D printing will eventually become another manufacturing technology.
Naturally, the adoption rate of 3D printing is increasing over time, with some segments such as dental switching almost entirely to 3D printing. The increasing awareness and benefits of 3D printing will facilitate this growth.
We are coming to a period of 3D printers because it has started making adjustments in our lives. The objectives range from airplane wings to the footwear you put on them. So tie your seat belt and get tight due to traveling in this world very quickly. Considering recent advances in technology and these expert predictions, 3D printing is clearly headed to a bright future of digital, smart manufacturing.
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