All about 3D Printing

In this write-up, we will provide you with all the necessary information you need about 3D printing. This concept is defined as an additive manufacturing technique, used for producing a physical object using a digital design. You can choose from a range of technologies as well as materials for 3D printing. However, every one of them depends on the principle whereby — through the addition of materials layer by layer a digital model is transformed into a 3D physical object in the solid form.

Starting with the Basics

We will start with how three-dimensional printing works. The beginning of all three-dimensional prints is as a digital 3D design file for a physical object. This file can be likened to a blueprint of the object. If you try to print without the use of a design file, it is like printing a document on a sheet of paper without making use of a file containing text. The file that houses the design is sliced into layers, which are thin and then transferred to a printer capable of printing in 3D format. From this stage onward, different processes can be used for the printing based on technology. One of such methods, at the primary level, is desktop printers which do the melting of a plastic material. It then lays this material down onto a platform for print.

There are other more advanced processes such as big industrial machines which employ a laser for melting metal powder selectively at high temperatures. Also, materials that are available vary based on the type of printer. Such materials could be sand-stone, rubber, plastics, alloys as well as metals. Every year, the new elements are introduced to the market increases.

Brief Overview of 3D Printing

Three-dimensional printing has been in use for over three decades, though many people regard it as futuristic. Invented in 1983 by Chuck Hull, SLA-1 is the first 3D printer. In 1983, it was Chuck that invented stereolithography, known as the first three-dimensional printing process. According to his description in a patent, stereolithography is a technique and tool for creating objects in solid form by printing thin layers of the UV (ultraviolet) curable substance successively, one above the other.

Chuck laid, with this method of his, the foundation of the concept that is called 3D printing or additive manufacturing in our modern world. 3D printing was primarily restricted to industrial applications before 2009. In this period, the patent for one of the most popular technologies for 3D printing, fused deposition modeling, expired. The first desktop printer, through the objective of RepRap project to design the machine that is self-replicating, was invented.

As the higher number of manufacturers emerged, the device that was once sold at $200,000 crashed to $2000. And the market for buyers of 3D prints launched in 2009. Ever since that time, sales of these printers have been rising. And as patents for 3D printing keep expiring, innovations can be anticipated shortly.  Today, there are approximately 300,000 three-dimensional printers used by consumers worldwide, and every year, the number of users of the machine keeps increasing.