What Is 3D Printing?

It is getting a lot of attention these days. There is no wonder, either. 3D printing is a process that holds a lot of promise for the future. It may one day be able to replace human body parts on a routine basis. For now, it is fast replacing production lines in traditional factories. But, what is it and how does it work? This article explores the basics of 3D printing.

3D printing begins with a design for an object. That object gets designed on a software platform. This is just like regular printing only instead of printed words coming out of the printer on a piece of paper, an actual 3D object is constructed within the 3D printer.

In more technical terms it works by adding slices of material onto each other to create the desired product. It is different from CNC machining or injection moulding which are subtractive machining methods.

With this type of printing, no other tools are needed to manufacture the end product. The item is designed on software as a CAD file. It can also be scanned into the printer using a special scanner. Scanners and printers are specialized for various industries. So, a printer that would make an object for the aerospace industry would be different from that used in the medical industry. Many other printing solutions are available from ATD coding solutions for industrial applications.

How it Works

You must use a special printer as well as the special software or scanner. Once you implement your design or you scan your object, you can then get it ready for printing. It must be turned into a model with slices. These slices are what get printed out layer by layer to create the actual object.

There are differences in slicing with different 3D printers and software. You may be able to slice files in your software or you may need to use the printer itself. Some printers require the use of a specific slicing tool. Either way, you would know ahead of time what your specific printer requires you to use to make the slices or layers.

Once the model is sliced, it can be fed into the printer. You can do this using Wi-Fi, an SD care or a USB device. If you are making a screw, for instance, your item would be loaded from the design software into the appropriate slicing software and given to the printer. The printer will print the uploaded screw design by building it in 3D using the specified layers in the design.