That is an interesting question…
Simply because it is not the printer transforming the data. It only receives instructions on how to move, where to lay the filament and so on. The 3D printer merely receives instructions and has no real data transforming powers.
3D printers need 3D data already transformed to their operating language in order to produce the object you want printed. To do that, it takes what is called by middle-ware software, others call it a slicer, to make the transformation. That middle-ware is placed on your computer.
To learn more about 3D data transformation just continue to read our article. It is filled with the information you need to know about in order to understand 3D printing better.
How a 3D printer transforms data
It may be nice to think that your 3D printer is somewhat of a genius computer making calculations, receiving data, changing it into print instructions and then printing the object. It would be great to have such a device and you do. It is called your computer.
On the computer you place the file you want printed, then the middle-ware software changes it from the CAD language to G code . From there a slicer program transforms the G-code into I/0 analog and digital instructions layer by layer.
That is the simplified way things work when you want to print using a 3D printer. All the firmware, software, middle-ware or slicer are placed on your computer and it does all the work
If the 3D printer could do all of that, then you would not need your computer to handle those tasks. All you would need would be a USB port and a keyboard and monitor.
Creating a 3D print
The following steps are also simplified so you can understand them better. The tricky part is converting the files into the right format so your 3D printer can print correctly.
|Select the CAD or equivalent design software you want to use
|Use your computer to convert the drawing to STL file format
|Transfer the fire to the computer operating the3D printer, make your settings at this point
|Make any adjustments to the file you need to based on the type of 3D printer you are using
|Start your build project and this may take some time
|Once completed remove the object from the build bed being careful not to touch any toxic materials or hot surfaces
|Do your post-processing at this point
|Use the object you just printed for whatever purpose you have
3D printing challenges
If you have done any amount of research you may have gotten the mistaken idea that all you have to do is use your 3D printer like a 2D model and push a single button and you get results.
3D printing is not at that stage of simplicity even though researchers are working on it. Here are some of the challenges you will face when you want to do 3D printing:
- Finding the right file- this takes time as all 3D printers do not work the same.
- Downloading that file to your computer then having the software on your computer to change it into G code.
- Have the right slicer to make sure the 3D printer gets the right instructions to print layer by layer.
- If you want to design your own object you need to have and learn how to use sophisticated design software.
- In lieu of that you may need to have a sophisticated scanning or digitizing hardware.
- Both take training to work properly which may not be accessible to everyone.
- The printer is just the robot waiting for the right instructions in order to move in the correct way to build the object. You have to make sure your settings are correct, the right software is performing that task and so on.
- Not every build will be perfect. Be prepared for errors that need to be fixed, changes that need to be made to your settings and so on.
- Getting the visions of grandeur out of your head s perfecting 3D printing takes time, effort and some money before you can build large objects.
The hard work of 3D printing
This is for those people who want to make their own designs and not use a generic one found at the many open source websites that dot the internet landscape. If you are making your own designs be prepared to spend many hours drafting the details till you get the design just right.
- You begin by making a graphic model of the design- this is usually done with the help of a computer aided design software program.
- Testing is done before printing- if it is not a decorative piece you are making then you will need to do different simulation tests to make sure the object comes out just right.
- When satisfied you can print the object. Slicing is the vital step as the 3D printer does not think like humans and needs special data sent to it in order to do the print.
- The printer receives the data it needs in the language it understands and does not do any transforming on its own.
- Once it has received the data, the printer does its job following the data it has received to the letter.
- Different 3D printers work differently so make sure you have the right files, software and slicer program for the 3D printer you are using and to be successful.
Some final words
There is some good and bad news. First, the 3D printer does not transform any data. That is all done by the computer that controls the 3D printer through the different software placed on it.
The good news is, once it gets the correct instructions, and there are no errors in them, the 3D printer will print what you want. Your only limitation will be your imagination and availability of computer files.