How Does a 3d Printer Work – A Definitive Guide

By Arindam Roy

What is a 3d printer?

3D printing is a process of making physical objects from 3D computerized model data. 3D printers are an ever-evolving, emerging technology that offers a wide range of applications in engineering and manufacturing. This post is designed to be the definitive guide for all things 3D printing, including concise answers to the fundamental questions that arise when learning about this technology. What does it do? What are some applications of 3d printers? How does it work?

What does it do?

A simple definition would be: A machine designed to produce three-dimensional items by adding layer upon layer. 3D printing is also known as additive manufacturing. The process may be compared to a 2d printer, which produces a document by adding layer after layer of ink.

how much electricity does a 3d printer use?

So how much electricity does a 3D printer actually use? It’s a hard question to answer because it depends on the settings you choose and the complexity of the object being printed. But, according to one study, most of them will use between 50 and 150 watts per hour. You can reduce this by using PLA filament in stead of ABS for printing.

What are some applications of 3d printers?

The main use of this technology is in the production of prototypes and end products. 3D printers can make anything from jewelry and toys to cell phone cases, clothing, car parts, prosthetic limbs, gun parts, implants for medical purposes. Anything that could possibly be produced with 2d printing can also be produced with 3d printing by simply changing the design or model data being printed. (Imagine you could print an entire music album in one run).

Read more: Top 10 Best Printers for Home Use in India – A Quick Buying Guide

How does it work?

3d printers use three axis to control the movement of the print head along x,y and z axis. These printers use a variety of materials such as plastics, resins, metal alloys. The printer controls the movement of the print head by directing its “gantry” to start printing from a pre-programmed path or structure (a model file). The material is then heated and extruded through a nozzle in layers that correspond with each path or layer in the design file. The printer’s software builds up each layer of material until you get your desired shape or object.

All you need is a 3D printer, some filament, and an idea. With a few clicks of the mouse on your computer screen and with no messy ink or paint-filled brushes, you can generate in less than an hour literally anything that springs from your mind. Sounds too good to be true? Look at the following infographic for more details on how 3D printers work.

Luckily there are also plenty of resources for those looking to learn more about our creative tools which will show you the ins and outs of this technology. How does a 3D printer work? An in-depth analysis cover all the important technical aspects including step by step guide explaining how it all works without fluffy wordings.

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The process of how 3D printers work is actually quite simple. First of all, the user loads the designing software in their computer and creates a 3D model which will become a solid object once it’s printed. Meanwhile, the printer has already heated up the plastic filament which will be used to form the design on paper

Once the printer gets the print command from user’s computer, it starts to heat up and melts the polymer filament. The melted plastic is then injected through a small nozzle to form a layer in your shape. Then the layer is covered by another heated layer of plastic which is exposed to the further nozzle to make a solid object.

The printer works as a 3-in-1 process. The first part of it consists of melting the filament and then extruding it through a nozzle with temperature at around 230 degree Celsius. This process, however, is quite time consuming.

To get every detail in your design, you need to do multiple layer surfacing and support bed compositing are two processes that speed up this part of 3D printing.

After that, an already existing object like an already printed part or a functional one can be directly fused onto another object you design. That way of 3D printing is the way of fast prototyping.

The last part of 3D printing is the post-processing. It includes the process of finishing an already printed object with your hands touching it to remove all extra filament and traces and make it look great. It also helps you make it more resistant to temperature, for example, so you can use your new print as a handy mug or hang it on the wall as a decoration or even a model in your airplane model collection.

This infographic provides a quick overview of all the stages involved in 3D printing and their processes that help us to create what we have only imagined until now. It summarizes all the steps involved in 3D printing as well as how they work. All of these processes are important and they need to be understood so that you know about all their uses in a 3D printing model.

Also read: Best Printers You Can Buy For Office Use

Types of 3D Printing Process:

If you are interested in getting a 3D printer but are not sure what kind of machine you should get, the choices can be overwhelming. The following list of perfect printers provides an overview of the most commonly used 3D printing technologies.

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) – This is one of the most prevalent and popular types of additive manufacturing technology in use today. FDM uses nylon or ABS thermoplastics that are heated to a point where they become liquid enough to extrude through a nozzle onto a surface which has been melted with UV light. As this process continues layer by layer, an object is created from the ground up.

Stereolithography (SLA) – This printing process uses a photo-reactive liquid to produce objects. A laser beam traces a crosshatch pattern onto a surface of the liquid and then hardens the areas exposed by the beam. The remaining liquid is washed away, leaving behind a defined object ready to be removed.

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) – As with most other additive manufacturing technologies, SLS works in layers. The difference with this 3D printing method is that after each layer is created by an extrusion head, a powerful laser hardens the surface of the material as well as some of the surrounding material creating support structures. This model of 3D printing is typically used for creating models that are smaller than most FDM printers.

Selective Laser Melting (SLM) – Like FDM 3D printing, SLM also uses a hot resin to build individual objects layer by layer. The only difference with this process is the use of a laser to harden the surface of an object. Unlike the other methods mentioned above, SLM uses a multitude of lasers to do it’s job.

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