3D printing is something that a lot of people look into, but many of these people do not fully understand what 3D printing is. If you are considering looking into this, you should know what a 3D printer is and how this process works. When you better understand the process, you will be able to determine if 3D printing is the right solution for you.
How Does 3D Printing Work?
Before you can look at anything else, you need to understand how 3D printing works. All 3D printing starts with a 3D design which is created on a computer. This will be done using 3D software which essentially creates a blueprint that the 3D printer is going to read. Once the file has been created, it will be sliced into thin layers before being sent to the 3D printer.
The process that the printer takes will vary depending on the technology that is being used. If you are going to use the best starter 3d printer for a desktop, it will generally melt a plastic material called “filaments” and lay it down according to the design file. If you are looking at larger industrial printers, they will use a laser to melt metal power at extremely high temperatures and then lay it down according to the 3D design.
The printing process can take hours depending on the design and size of the item which is being printed. It is important to note that 3D printed products will generally have to go through post-processing to achieve the desired finish.
The History Of 3D Printing
A lot of people assume that 3D printing is relatively new because of the recent prevalence of 3D printers. This is actually far from the truth as the first 3D printing process was created in 1983. Chuck Hull was the inventor of the process and later expanded the original process he used to print with a light curable liquid. The processes that he created built the foundations of the 3D printing process as we know it today.
The current hype in 3D printing has only now come about because of the patents that were initially filed regarding 3D printing. It was only in 2009 that the patent for fused deposition modeling expired. This modeling is the most commonly used 3D printing technology and was only used in large industries before 2009.
With the expiration of the patent, more and more 3D printers were created which lowered the costs of printers and 3D printing. A process that would have cost tens of thousands before, now only cost a couple of thousand. The consumer market for 3D printers really took off in 2009 and led to the range of printer and uses that we now have.
The Pros And Cons Of 3D Printing
Before you rush off and buy a 3D printer, you need to understand the pros and cons of this. 3D printers are able to make very complex designs and allow for the customization of each item, but this is done at the expense of the materials. 3D printers are not able to use a vast range of materials which can limit choices for consumers.
Another benefit of 3D printing is that you will not need tools and models to create products. This will help to lower the costs of production, but you will have to pay for the printer and the associated 3D design software. The lack of tools also leads to a lower precision process that can be harmful to certain businesses.
3D printed products will generally have limited strength and durability which is a problem for certain businesses. However, this will not be a problem when you are looking to create prototypes of products or looking to test the market.
Buying A 3D Printer
If you have determined that 3D printing is the right solution for you, you need to consider if you should buy a printer or use a printing service. If you are going to be printing regularly at a rate of 2 or more printings per week, you should buy a printer. However, if you are unsure about the number of prints you will need, you should use a service.
You also need to consider if you have the capital to buy a printer as they are still not as affordable as you might imagine.