With 3D printing developing and advancing so rapidly it has become a bit of a whirlwind of information when you sit at your desk and hit Google with “”3D printing.””
Intrigued you might be but where do I start?
You want to get into printing and you want to figure out what you can use this amazing technology for that everyone is making such a fuss about.
First you need to understand what it is and then we will talk about the different technologies available and the advantages and disadvantages of each.
3D Printing is a method of Additive Manufacturing so this is already where it deviates from what we all understand as a manufacturing process, Manufacturing in the normal sense of the work refers to taking some raw material and shaping and removing parts of that material until we end up with the product we are making. An example of this would be someone making a bushing for a bearing; he will start off with a piece of stock round bar that is approximately the right size or a bit larger than his final product he will use a CNC Lather to then cut and trim this Stock down too his desired size, this can be done relatively quickly. However this might be quick he is wasting and throwing away all the material he removed from the original Stock.
Now, Additive manufacturing on the other hand also starts with a raw material and also needs to be manipulated and joined to become the end product, so how this is accomplished is by breaking the part up into layers and using various methods to place the material of the part only where the parts is to be formed.
3D printing on the other hand is defined by the action or process of making a physical object from a three-dimensional digital model, typically by laying down many thin layers of a material in succession.
And as these two are so very close by definition the terms are often interchanged and used both ways.
Let’s start figuring out what how the process can be defined, to do this we can look at the things that are common with all the technologies and that is that they all start by a computer CAD Model that has to drawn or designed using 3D design software.
This 3-Dimensional CAD model then gets read by the 3D Printier or AM Device which gets its data from the CAD model to determine the .g code (this is the most common format but not the only one) for the printing process.
At this point the operator can enter many variables to change and fine tune the desired outcome of the Product.
This is a very rough explanation of the process involved.
I also just want to mention that AM is not only 3D printing but there are a few other less commonly implemented AM process as well namely :
Rapid Prototyping (RP)
Direct Digital Manufacturing (DDM)
But out of interest we will be focusing on 3D printing and all the wonders about this technology.
We will be going through a few of the different 3D technologies over the next while, so check back soon and join me on the journey through printing.
Here are the methods we will be looking at :