1. What is 3D printing?
3D printing is also known as desktop fabrication or additive manufacturing. It is a prototyping process whereby a real object is created from a 3D design. The digital 3D-model is saved in STL format and then sent to a 3D printer. The 3D printer then prints the design layer by layer and forms a real object.
2. 3D printing technologies
There are several different 3D printing technologies. The main differences are how layers are built to create parts.
SLS (selective laser sintering), FDM (fused deposition modeling) & SLA (stereolithograhpy) are the most widely used technologies for 3D printing. Selective laser sintering (SLS) and fused deposition modeling (FDM) use melted or softened materials to produce layers.
Generally, the main considerations are speed, cost of the printed prototype, cost of the 3D printer, choice and cost of materials and color capabilities.
3. The history of 3D printing
October 5, 2011 - Roland DG Corporation introduced the new iModela iM-01.
Sep, 2011 - Vienna University of Technology, a smaller, lighter and cheaper printing device has now been developed.
This smallest 3D printer weighs 1.5 kilograms, it costs around 1200 Euros.
Aug, 2011 - The world's first 3D printed aircraft created by Engineers at the University of Southampton.
4. 3D printing applications
One of the most important applications of 3D printing is in the medical industry. With 3D printing, surgeons can produce patient-specific 3D printed models of patients' body parts or organs. They can use these models to plan and practice surgeries, potentially saving lives.
3D printing makes it possible to make a part from scratch in just hours. It allows designers and developers to go from flat screen to exact, physical part.
Nowadays almost everything from aerospace components to toys are being built with the help of 3D printers. 3D printing is also used for jewelry and art, architecture, fashion design, art, architecture and interior design.
5. What is a 3D printer?
A 3D printer is unlike your standard, 2D inkjet printer. On a 3D printer the object is printed in three dimensions. A 3D model is built up layer by layer. Therefore the whole process is called rapid prototyping, or 3D printing. Read more..
The resolution of the current printers is around 328 x 328 x 606 DPI (xyz) at 656 x 656 x 800 DPI (xyz) in ultra-HD resolution. The accuracy is 0.025 mm - 0.05 mm per inch. The model size is up to 737 mm x 1257 mm x 1504 mm.
The biggest drawback for the individual home user is still the high cost of 3D printer. Another drawback is that it takes hours or even days to print a 3D model (depending on the complexity and resolution of the model). Besides above, the professional 3D software and 3D model design is also in a high cost range.
Alternatively there are already simplified 3D printers for hobbyist which are much cheaper. And the materials it uses is also less expensive. These 3D printers for home use are not as accurate as commercial 3D printer.
6. How much cost a 3D printer?
Here are list of DIY 3D printer price comparison and list of fully assembled or commercial 3D printers price comparison (less than $25,000).
7. What are the materials used to print 3D objects?
Many different materials can be used for 3D printing, such as ABS plastic, PLA, polyamide (nylon), glass filled polyamide, stereolithography materials (epoxy resins), silver, titanium, steel, wax, photopolymers and polycarbonate.