3D Printing

in #3d2 years ago

3D Printing
Imagine being able to print your own home, being able to print a missing ear, a toy for your kids? The possibilities of 3-D printing are endless. When I first read of 3D printing in 2010, I was gleeful! I wanted one, but as a teenager back then I couldn’t afford to, and even now as an adult I can hardly manage to get one. What fascinated me the most about this genius technology was how it could get you almost everything you wanted?

Earlier, I had expected that in a few years to come, the technology will be widespread and popular in Nigeria, Alas! I have not been able to see one of these machines in use, I have read that companies are using them, but I’d love to see for myself.

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What is 3D printing?

The general definition is that 3D printing is the process of creating 3D objects from a digital file. The same way you type letters and print out, only this time, the flat image of the cat you have printed as a picture, yh! That cat can now be printed out like an actual object, if you are familiar with sculpting, you see that it involves the carving out of material to achieve a result, say wood carving, you have to start cutting out parts of the wood to achieve what you need, people who make steel have to bend/cut/heat up the metal to give them the desired shape, all these types of manufacturing is known as subtractive manufacturing.

With 3D printing it’s the opposite, layers after layers of materials are stacked to achieve the desired object, it allows for the lesser use of materials. If I had to print out blades of a fan, instead of having to cut the plastic/metal material into shape, a 3D printer will have it laid out without waste of materials.

How does it work?
If you don’t know how a 3-D printer works, don’t fret, I’ve got you covered.
To get the 3D printer to give you your desired 3D object, you need the following:
3D Model
This is a drawing of what you intend to print, if you are familiar with engineering drawing software you can make your model yourself, Google Sketchup and AutoDesk Fusion are two great apps for drawing models.

And if you are not their tons of websites with ready and easy to download models, you can pretty much any design from ThingVerse and Myminifactor

Slicer

The 3D printer is unable to understand and print out the model, hence the need for a slicer. A slicer splits the model up into less complex layers, these layers are what the printer prints line one after the other and the end result is the 3D object. These layers may number up to thousands, there are apps for easily slicing up models, Makewave, Cura, and simplify3D are a few software you can use in getting excellent slices off your model. As soon as the model is sliced, you are ready to feed the printer.

3D printer Types

As of 2019, grandviewresearch.com reported that the 3D printing industry is worth an estimated $19 Billion and is projected to be worth $40 Billion by 2026. With 3D Systems Corps(DDD) and Proto Lab Inc. topping the list of 3D printer manufacturers, more competitions have been sprouting up in the last decade and speculation proves that more is to come.

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There several types of printers in the market some made for public use and several others are custom made, manufacturing companies have largely adopted the use of 3D printers for prototyping, and this has tremendously reduced the cost of producing prototypes and has increased the efficiency of these prototypes. Here are the most common types of 3D printers:

  • Stereolithography (SLA)
  • Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
  • Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)
  • Digital Light Process (DLP)
  • Multi Jet Fusion (MJF)
  • PolyJet
  • DirectMetal Laser Sintering(DMLS)
  • Electron Beam Melting (FBM)

All of these function in their unique way, it is important that you understand the kind of model you intend to print, the material you want it to be printed with, and the quality it should be printed in; these helps in deciding which printer is best for you.

Printers can cost as low as $200 and can go as high as $10000 depending on size, type, and quality. 3D printers are used in almost all industries now, from surgeons who need to print a particular human organ, to teachers who use 3D printed objects in teaching, also, of the most popular users of 3D printers are manufacturers, 3D printers offer them a cheaper and quicker alternative to the production of parts.

You can learn more about 3D-printing and 3D printers in the links shared below.

https://www.protolabs.com/resources/blog/types-of-3d-printing/
https://www.pcmag.com/picks/the-best-3d-printers
https://3dprinting.com/what-is-3d-printing/

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