Technology evolved during the past decades, and it brought different wonders. Whether it’s woodworking, electronics, or robotics, technology played a vital role in its development. The 3D printer is one of the wonders of technological advancement.
Have you seen a device that allows you to print any physical object you can imagine? That’s what you can do with a 3D printer. If you don’t have any idea about a 3D printer, you would know more about it in this article.
You might ask – how to get started with a 3D printer? Don’t worry! I’ll talk about 3D printers and more. So, are you ready? Let’s begin.
What is a 3D Printer?
A 3D printer refers to a computer-aided manufacturing or CAM device that allows you to create three-dimensional objects. 3D printers are like traditional printers – the printer receives data from the computer. (We call this as input.)
But here’s the difference – the 3D printer produces a three-dimensional object (from custom material) rather than printing the model on paper.
A 3D printer uses a process we refer to as additive manufacturing to print physical objects by layers until the model is finished. Additive manufacturing is different from subtractive manufacturing because (in the latter), a machine removes or reshapes a material from a mold.
The 3D model process is different depending on the material you’re using to create an object. Let me give you an example:
A 3D printer heats and fuses plastic layers using fused deposition modeling or FDM to build a plastic model. Meanwhile, direct metal laser sintering or DMLS is used in creating a metallic object. (With this method, the printer forms thin metal layers using a laser.)
3D printers produce less waste than other devices because these create 3D models from scratch. Since the 1980s, 3D printers have been popular among large scale industries. Today, you can find affordable 3D printers, unlike the printers before. People can create replacement parts and home products using 3D printers.
3D Printer Types
Before you buy a 3D printer, you should know the types of printers in the market. Each type of 3D printer has different features depending on the model or price tag of the device. Now, let’s talk about the printer variations you can see in the market.
Cartesian Printers – The most common types of 3D printers are the cartesian printers. These printers use a three-axis system. (We have X for the left and right. Then, Y is on the front and back. For the up and down, we have Z.)
Most cartesian printer models have print beds that move to the Y-axis. Other printers have print beds that move along Y and X axes. In other designs, you would observe that the print bed moves easier and simpler than other cartesian printers. The downsides are the small print areas and slow print speeds of the printer.
Delta Printers – Like cartesian printers, delta printers use a three-axis system. But delta models have a stationary and circular build plate. These printers have three arms that suspend the extruder. The arms move in different directions.
If you’re looking for a printer that offers excellent printing speed and builds height, a delta printer is your best choice. But the printer’s disadvantages are small build area and reduced print quality.
Take note: You have options for building a DIY printer using a tool kit. If you build your own printer, you become familiar with the device, its parts, and its functions. But it’s better that beginners buy a 3D printer than making it themselves.
Did you know that some 3D printers offer other multiple functions than 3D printing? Yes, the other cool functions of a 3D printer are the following:
- Laser cutting
- Interchangeable tool heads
Some 3D printer models offer you a touch screen display, heated print bed, and interchangeable tool heads. You can create different objects using a 3D printer and its awesome features.
3D Printer Materials
Since the 1980s, there are diverse materials used by 3D printers. Today, specific materials are developed for platforms that perform dedicated applications. An example of these applications is the dental sector.
If you plan to buy a 3D printer material, here are the following materials you can use:
Plastics are flexible, strong, and durable, which is reliable in 3D printing. Plastics have a white color, but others are colored. Examples of plastics you can use are polyamide and nylon that are often used in powder form in both the filament and sintering process.
The common metals used in 3D printing are cobalt and aluminum. The commonly used and strongest metals for 3D printing are stainless steel. In the past years, silver and gold were included in the materials suited for 3D printing.
Papers are also an ideal material for 3D printing. 3D printed models of paper are safe, eco-friendly, recyclable, and you don’t require post-processing.
Even though ceramics are new to the group, these materials offer success in the 3D printing process. You can use ceramics by glazing and firing before you can use it for3D printing.
How Does a 3D Printer Work?
Now that you have an idea about the 3D printer types and materials, let’s discuss how the 3D printer works. You create a computerized file (a word processor file), spreadsheet, or image.
Once your file is ready, you can upload it to the printer using a computer. Then, you press the PRINT button. The printer forces ink using a nozzle in the paper. The two-dimensional representation is the result after the single print cycle.
3D printers use different ink types that we call filaments. These filaments range from glass, metals, paper, and wood.
Keep in mind: 3D printing undergoes different layers or cycles to create a physical object. Hence, 3D printing acquires the additive manufacturing process. If you would observe, print theories between the 3D and inkjet are the same.
3D printing is popular among designers and people under the 3D printing industry. By knowing how to get started with a 3D printer, you’re now ready to use a 3D printer. Feel free to choose different 3D printer models in the market today.