Introduction to 3D Printing – A Complete Guide

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Thin layers of filament (often plastic) are used in 3D printing, an additive manufacturing technique, to build actual objects from three-dimensional models. The model is made from a digital file, which is then sent to the printer. One tiny layer is added to another by the 3D printer until an object is produced. Also, 3D printing makes it possible to make models with more complex shapes with less material than with traditional methods.

According to research, 3D printing first became popular in the 1970s. Early additive manufacturing machinery and materials weren’t created until 1980. Sadly, Hideo Kodama never made this technique commercially viable despite filing a patent for it. The world of technology started to take notice of 3D printing in the 1990s. The development of totally functional human organs for transplantation in young patients using 3D printing techniques covered with particles and cells from their very own bodies also occurred during this time. The medical sector saw significant success as a result.

AweRobotics.com - Introduction to 3D Printing - A Complete GuideDespite these developments, functional outputs using 3D printing were scarce until the rise of additive manufacturing in the 2000s. In additive manufacturing, materials are combined to create a final product. Contrary to the idea of subtractive manufacturing, additive manufacturing is a very different process. In subtractive manufacturing, material is taken out of an object by carving out its surface. Additionally, this method generates a lot of material waste. In this context, additive manufacturing still primarily refers to metalworking techniques, whereas 3D printing still primarily refers to technologies that use polymer materials. However, by the early 2010s, the words for these two processes were widely used in the market, media, businesses, and manufacturing industries.

Click here to find out more about What Exactly Is 3D Printing?

The first self-replicating 3D printer model was developed around 2008. By producing its own parts and components, a 3D printer was able to reconstruct itself. Users were able to make additional printers for others as a result. According to studies, a person who had a 3D printed prosthetic leg that was totally created in one piece was able to walk successfully later that year. Then, as additive processes developed in the 2010s, 3D printing efforts started to build objects layer by layer. In 2012, a number of authors started to consider the potential value of 3D printing for the developing world as plastic and other materials became available for the process. More about 3D Processes here: What Are the Different Processes for 3D Printing.

More 3D printing uses have developed during the ensuing years, including the first airplane ever. Makers that use 3D printers concur that this technique is quicker and less expensive than conventional techniques, making it perfect for those who require rapid prototyping (RP). Today, 3D printing is used to describe processes like desktop manufacturing, quick manufacturing, and rapid prototyping.

A vast range of 3D printers are available on the market. Although more expensive, sophisticated machines are also available with high-quality printing and functionality. Easy-to-use desktop printers are another benefit of 3D printing, and engineers and schools are becoming more and more interested in them.

As you know, 3D printing only encompasses the hardware component of things. 3D printing in the robotics world would focus on building the actual physical components of a robot. However, what good are physical components if the robot doesn’t have a brain or if it doesn’t possess any logic to be able to make decisions? Well, this is where artificial intelligence comes into the picture. If you would like to start incorporating 3D printing within the world of robotics, then you should absolutely learn more about AI by checking out the The Complete Guide to Artificial Intelligence.

How Do 3D Printers Operate?

AweRobotics.com - Introduction to 3D Printing - A Complete Guide - How Do 3D Printers Operate

In essence, 3D printing creates an object by fusing layers of material. In this process, the 3D printer is controlled by 3D modeling software. This software controls the process very precisely.

The production of 3D printed objects uses a variety of manufacturing techniques, all of which effectively build models layer by layer. Each of these different ways to make things with 3D printing may use a different kind of material, finish, and cost.

FDM, SLS, SLM, SLA, and DLP are some of the most popular and widely used technologies. Continue reading for an overview of each of these technologies.

We’ll start with the most popular option, FDM, which stands for Fused Deposition Modelling and is a trademark of Stratasys. Despite the fact that this idea has been known since the 1990s, many 3D printers have only recently begun to use this method. The other name for this technique is FFF (fuse filament fabrication). By melting plastic that is deposited using a hot extruder, numerous layers are lined up until a shape is created in this kind of operation. ABS and PLA are the two most commonly utilized materials or filaments in this kind of technique.

Another method of SLS, or selective laser sintering, fuses powdered plastic material into a solid shape. Most people prefer this kind of technology because it lets them make quick prototypes and small batches.

Metallic powders are melted and fused using SLM, or selective laser melting, which employs a high-power density laser. The metal material can be completely melted into a solid 3D model using this type of technology. Additionally, this procedure enables the construction of elements that are difficult to cast using other traditional techniques. A CAD program is used to divide the file, which is usually an.STL file, into layers. The layers are then loaded into file-preparation software, and a strong laser beam is used to melt the material until the item is finished.

Continuous stereolithography, often known as SLA, produces items with excellent quality, smooth surfaces, and high levels of detail. This kind of technology is frequently applied to mechanical models and industry.

Finally, DLP, or digital light processing, is a method like SLA that uses light coming from a light projector screen to cure resin materials. It is recommended for low-volume manufacturing runs of primarily plastic parts because a complete layer may be created at once and the process is significantly faster as a result of the low power consumption.

How to Use 3D Printing

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1. Make a CAD (Computer-Aided Design) file first.

Using computer software or a 3D scanner, a virtual design is created before a 3D printed object is actually made. To see how the finished 3D printed thing would appear, the exact measurements of the object are replicated on this. Thankfully, fewer mistakes may occur during printing when a 3D object is designed using CAD, but thankfully, these may be fixed beforehand. Another method of making an object by hand is sculpting, which requires a 3D scanner to gather information on the data, shape, and appearance of the desired thing.

2. Change the CAD file.

Following the creation of the design, the file must be converted so that the 3D printer can read it. STL is among the most frequently utilized files (standard tessellation language). Because there are so many surfaces in STL files, occasionally the file size increases. AMF, or Additive Manufacturing File Format, is another alternative to a file format that is used and stores data more conveniently.

3. Change the STL file.

The orientation and size of the object to be produced must be determined once the STL file has been developed and is prepared to be submitted to the 3D printer. We can also fix any errors in the original using STL files.

4. Prepare the 3D Printer

All materials must be prepared before beginning the printing process once the digital file is ready to be printed. When the STL file is completed, a slicing program must process it in order to help in 3D printing by breaking the object up into layers and providing the instructions that will later be received by the 3D printer.

5. Build the Thing.

The printing procedure can start as soon as all the aforementioned criteria are ready. Depending on how intricate the object to print is, certain printers may require some time to produce the finished product. Many printers have advanced features and print quickly. When the procedure starts, the layers begin to construct the item with an unmatched resolution, utilizing a unique micrometer measurement. For instance, a typical layer has a thickness of roughly 100 micrometers.

6. Work with the Finished Product.

Once the item is prepared, it must be handled with extreme caution. For instance, it is advised to wear gloves when handling printed materials, and then to brush off any remaining powder to clean the item. One benefit of 3D printing is that an item may be created in a matter of hours, which is much more convenient and produces results more quickly than traditional manufacturing procedures.

How Do FFF 3D Printers Operate?

AweRobotics.com - Introduction to 3D Printing - A Complete Guide - How Do FFF (Fused Fillament Fabrication) 3D Printers Operate

Fused Deposition Modeling, a registered trademark, is another name for Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) (FDM). This technology was created after the development of SLA (Stereolithography) and SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) processes. Given that FDM is a trademarked term, the term FFF was initially used as a free substitute.

In order to create a 3D printed object, a heated extrusion nozzle first glides over a created platform while simultaneously releasing molten plastic. After that, the material is deposited onto a print bed in thin layers, one on top of the other. While the plastic is being extruded, the nozzle and printed bed both move. The slicing software is very important to this process because it divides the design into multiple layers so that the 3D printing can be optimized.

The most common types of materials used in 3D printing include pastes, raw materials, and thermoplastic filaments, which are available in a variety of colors, thicknesses, and sizes to suit the needs of the item being created. In extrusion, filaments are made out of thermoplastics, ABS, PLA, HIPS, TPU, ASA, PETG, and other materials.

What Can be 3D Printed & What Are Some 3D Applications?

AweRobotics.com - Introduction to 3D Printing - A Complete Guide - What Can be 3D Printed & What Are Some 3D Applications

The creation of models and prototypes for the industry has been transformed by 3D printing. Rapid prototyping (RP) is a concept that enables the creation of goods, typically within hours or days, as opposed to weeks when using traditional approaches. Almost any object you can imagine can be produced using 3D printing.

By 2024, Statista projects that the global market for 3D printed goods and services will surpass 40 billion USD. This industry is expected to grow at a 26.4 percent annual rate between 2020 and 2024, according to this source.

Numerous applications can be made with 3D printing. More businesses are relying on this technique for quicker prototyping and production of things, even when they already have their own printers, as new materials and applications are being discovered daily.

3D printing is used by many large industrial companies and has a big impact on product design, research, education, and other areas. It has the potential to completely change almost every part of the economy as we know it.

The Consumer Goods Industry and 3D Printing

Due to its enormous value to the supply chain, 3D printing is a popular choice among businesses and retailers. They can more quickly customize and design their products, keeping up with the rapidly shifting consumer market. They can also quickly introduce their products to the market by generating units more quickly.

Some businesses have used 3D printing to create clothing, accessories, furniture, lighting, and more. Nike and Adidas are two companies that have already created sports shoes. In an article on news.nike.com, Nike describes Nike Flyprint as the first 3D printed textile upper-performance footwear. Nike Flyprint tops are created using SDM (solid deposit modeling).

Jewelry printing with 3D technology is another use. By 2028, precious metals used in additive manufacturing are anticipated to be worth $1.8 billion globally, according to SmarTech. Recently, the well-known Australian brand Boltenstern debuted a line of 3D printed jewelry.

3D Printing in the Healthcare Sector

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3D printing has a lot to offer the medical sector. While it can be challenging to find donors, the Rochester Institute of Technology’s engineering department is investigating novel 3D printing techniques for medical applications like the capacity to produce organs that the recipient can accept. This research is shown in this Marketwatch video. Allied Market Research says that the market for 3D printing in healthcare will have grown to $2.3+ billion.

With the quick development of flexible manufacturing and advancements, 3D printing is now widely used in the medical field for prostheses, surgical planning, and implant designs, among other things. See more articles on 3D printing for medical purposes here, including the most recent case study on how COVID-19 masks were created using this technology.

The use of 3D printing for medical applications such as implant designs, surgical planning and training, and prosthetics has become more common due to the rapid growth of flexible manufacturing and breakthroughs in the biomedical disciplines. Thermoplastics like Polycarbonate, semi-flexible plastics, ABS, which is durable and resistant to the elements, or PLA (Polylactic Acid), which degrades over time, even inside the human body, are all suitable for 3D printing. Here, unique devices for beam range modulation, 3D conformal radiation therapy (3D CRT), or brachytherapy applications are made using 3D printing in the field of radiotherapy.

With 3D printed guidelines, spinal procedures in this situation had a higher success rate. The best hospital in the province of Anhui is the Bengbu Hospital. At the end of 2013, Director Niu started looking into how 3D printing of vertebrae could be used in the real world.

Another situation where 3D printing has helped lower prices and sped up the production of prosthetic hands is this one. Mike Li, the company’s founder, had been employed in the IT sector until three years prior, when he was moved by a video showcasing an innovative application of 3D printing for children’s prostheses. He and other local makers gave their time to design and build custom prosthetics for patients because they were inspired to use medical 3D printing for prosthetics to help others.

The Use of 3D Printing in the Automotive Sector

The automotive sector is likewise undergoing a revolution thanks to 3D printing, which has advanced from producing relatively simple prototypes of low-volume parts to creating entire cars. Auto parts and interior auto designs can both be produced utilizing 3D printing. Before the assembling process, a small scale model may occasionally be produced to determine scale. By generating quick prototypes and cutting down on production costs and lead times, this method benefits the industry as a whole. Customized auto parts for unique model cars are the focus of several other automotive businesses. More case studies on 3D printing in the automobile sector can be found here.

3D Printing in Aerospace

AweRobotics.com - Introduction to 3D Printing - A Complete Guide - 3D Printing in Aerospace

3D printing has impressive applications in the aircraft sector as well. Airbus is using 3D printing technology, among other things, to produce plastic components for its commercial A310 and A350 XWB test aircraft. This firm is represented in the video as producing door hinges, a component of the tail wing, and metal parts for wing slats. Potential parts that are developed and produced through 3D printing can be thought of as being stronger, lighter, and produced in 70% less time and for 80% less money than similar parts. Airbus also says that 3D printing is good for the environment because it has cut its metal waste by up to 95%.

Applications of 3D Printing in Dentistry

According to research, the market for dental applications of 3D printing is predicted to expand dramatically. The fabrication of crowns, aligners, bridge models, retainers, and even orthodontic models is all possible with dental 3D printing. The use of dental 3D printing in orthodontic models is discussed here.

3D printing for prosthetics

Positive changes brought about by 3D printing in the medical industry include quick turnaround times, low costs, and the capacity to produce effective prototypes and parts that need to be customized, like 3D printed implants and prostheses. Legs, feet, and other body parts are being produced using 3D printing.

A CAD blueprint for the prototype prosthetic was first created by Canadian biology artist Albert Fung. Using this as a starting point, he and his team were able to change the model to fit the needs of each patient.

e-NABLE is a company that is currently working in this field. Within a year, Albert Fung and Dr. Choi constructed five variations of the initial prosthetic device and tailored it to fit people in Sierra Leone. Check out this case study on 3D printed prostheses. 3D Printing for Architecture

A real model is greatly preferred to a model displayed on a computer screen in this discipline, so 3D printing makes it possible to swiftly build an architectural model. Any architectural application may now quickly and affordably produce scale models. Other astounding uses of 3D printing in the field of architecture include the creation of complete buildings and urban constructions, to name a few. The first 3D-printed pedestrian bridge was created in Madrid, Spain. This bridge spans a brook in Castilla-La Mancha Park in Alcobendas, Madrid. The 12 meter long and 1.75 meter wide structure is made of micro-reinforced concrete.

Archeology and 3D Printing

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Exact replicas of relics may now be made using 3D printing for museums and archeology, allowing them to traverse the globe and aid researchers in their work. Students’ research projects can also use archaeological artifacts that have been scanned and generated. Due to the considerable risk of historic objects being broken or damaged during transportation and the possibility of restoration through the use of scanning and 3D printing, museums use this technology extensively. This includes the reconstruction of fossils.

Art Restoration with 3D Printing

Although the goal of restoration is to preserve the past, some sculptors are using 3D printing to make their restoration process more efficient. The Scuola di Alta Formazione (SAF) of the Instituto Superiore per la Conservazione ed il Restauro is a fantastic illustration of this (ISCR). The restoration of Italian heritage masterpieces is spearheaded by this institute. For their restoration projects, the institute’s instructors chose to use 3D scanning and 3D printing, and the results were superb. Read more about how 3D printing is being used to restore Italian classical art.

Another excellent example of this is the “Elastic Minds” initiative by the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where artists used 3D printing to make complete scale pieces of art and furniture, including chairs. In this film about the show, laser technology was used to produce sketches of furniture items in the air. A camera then scanned these to record the movement and capture this as a drawing, which was then sent to a 3D printer.

Forensics Using 3D Printing

By immediately generating skulls, shoe prints, and other forensic evidence, 3D printing in forensics is enabling a breakthrough in the investigation of cold case files. Professor of anthropology at Indiana University and forensic anthropologist Daryl Ricketts employs 3D printing in his teaching and research. He employs 3D printing technology to produce forensic pieces for his students. By performing a virtual autopsy using CT images, fetal material, and fetal skeletons, He also employs facial 3D printing to rebuild the faces of various hominids.

More than 900 missing and unidentified homicide victims’ faces have been recreated using clay and 3D-printed skulls by forensic artists at the University of South Florida. In this CNN video, forensic anthropologists and artists from all over the world work together to reconstruct the faces of victims so that they can be identified.

3D Printing in the Movie Industry

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The technology of 3D printing is now being used more frequently by movie laboratories and businesses in the creation of characters through makeup preparation and special effects. For instance, 3D printing is being used by Alliance Studio’s Steve Yang and Eddie Wang to usher in a new era of special effects and sculpture production. In this video, they discussed how they began using 3D printing when everything else was done using conventional techniques, and how this technology altered the way they produced things in a way that had never been seen before.

This article also discusses how 3D printers are used by renowned Star Wars makeup artist Rick Baker to create monsters and props. Using the technology of 3D printing, Rick Baker has been able to produce replicas and scaled-down pieces of his movie characters. With this technology and digital design, the time it takes to make movie models has been cut down.

Several businesses all around the world are embracing 3D printing to produce excellent, highly accurate models for industrial manufacture and prototyping. Due to the fact that the majority of 3D models are created using plastic and other materials, the procedure is fairly economical. In addition, compared to conventional methods, this novel approach requires fewer materials for manufacturing and prototyping.

3D Printing and Education

Numerous applications of 3D printing technology exist in the realm of education, many of which are quite intriguing. Progressive schools have witnessed a rapid expansion of STEM education over the past ten years as project-based, practical learning has displaced the theoretical knowledge found in textbooks. Students who have been sculpted by this cutting-edge learning ecosystem are soaring to new heights to change our industrial processes when they enter the workforce. When it makes sense, additive manufacturing methods like 3D printing are now being used instead of traditional methods to make production processes more flexible, creative, and cost-effective.

For instance, Lift 3.0 is employing 3D printers in Russia to effectively educate children about the benefits of additive manufacturing.

The following instance involves John Gardner, a Foothill High School student from Tustin, California, who has a strong enthusiasm for engineering and technology. He started creating his prototypes for an electric skateboard, specially-fit prosthetic limbs, and other things after learning about 3D printers. Visit this page for more examples of 3D printing in the classroom.

Several businesses all around the world are embracing 3D printing to produce excellent, highly accurate models for industrial manufacture and prototyping. Due to the fact that the majority of 3D models are created using plastic and other materials, the procedure is fairly economical. In addition, compared to conventional methods, this novel approach requires fewer materials for manufacturing and prototyping.

Here is some more information about What Are Some 3D Printing Uses.

How do I Use a 3D Printer to Print?

AweRobotics.com - Introduction to 3D Printing - A Complete Guide - How do I Use a 3D Printer to Print

The production of products is changing as a result of 3D printing. You will need to perform a few actions and give some thought before beginning the 3D printing process. Continue reading for a list of things you’ll need to set up your creation.

Step #1: Choosing the Best 3D Printer

Consider your 3D printer possibilities and pick the one that best serves your needs as your first step. There are numerous manufacturers and options, so you can always compare models. However, you should be sure to pick a printer with the characteristics you need for your projects and ideas.

For instance, there are 3D printers that are reasonable in price and properly suited to small-batch manufacturing, engineering, and education. For greater output capacity, make sure your printer has two extruders that can print at the same time. By doing this, the printing process can be sped up for fast prototyping. Some great printers come with high-resolution cameras, video-assisted calibration systems, and a lot of safety features.

Larger industrial originals can be built using several other 3D printers. These printers are more modern and have capabilities that are completely contained. Complex pieces can be printed using industrial grade 3D printers, which also support a variety of materials and increase printing speed even more. If you have to pick a printer like this, make sure it has features like interchangeable nozzles, a remote user interface, and motion controllers.

If you would like to learn more about 3D printing hardware, check out our in-depth guide here: 3D Printing Essential Hardware.

Another page that is worth checking out if you are looking to choose a 3D printer is our guide here: How Do You Choose a 3D Printer?

Step #2: Selecting 3D Slicing Software

Software is required to model an object for 3D printing. Many websites and service providers provide free software that may be downloaded for designing and modeling, while others offer a selection of 3D models or mockups that other people have used to make their copies. Through research, we have found a slicing program that is simple to use, has specialized advanced capabilities, and is intuitive. Another crucial consideration is whether or not the program you pick provides a multilingual interface in case you require one is another crucial consideration.

We provide more information on 3D slicing software here: 3D Printing Essential Software

Step #3: Set the Design for Printing

The design must now be prepared for printing as the next step. The printer transmits the signal to begin producing the object using filament, which is similar to a cord that flows to the printer’s plates when it receives the data from the software. STL is the most popular file type for 3D printing designs (Standard Triangle Language). In a 3D printing environment, the original design is converted into a number of triangles, setting up the printers and associated hardware to produce the desired thing. It is best to set the resolution of a file to the right size so that computers and software can put together your final product without any problems.

Step #4: Building the Object

In the last step, layering is used to form the object. Layers are added one after another until the shape and finished product are completed. The term “Fused Depositional Model” refers to the practice of repeatedly printing over the same area (FDM). Plastic is the most common material for 3D printing, but many other materials can also be used. These include PLA, ABS, HIPS, carbon fiber reinforced plastic, flexibles, and many more.

You should also have a basic understanding of how to perform certain maintenance steps as well as to do some minor on your 3D printer. We have put together a small guide on maintenance. Check it out here: Performing Maintenance on Your 3D Printer & Building Materials

Where Can I Find Files for 3D Printing?

AweRobotics.com - Introduction to 3D Printing - A Complete Guide - Where Can I Find Files for 3D Printing

There are many places that give these files, some of them for free, if you’re trying to get files for 3D printing. If you search the website, you can find a range of STL files, 3D printed models, 3D printed files, and 3D printing ideas in various file formats. Here is a small list of several websites that offer files and resources for 3D printing, as seen below.

There are more and more applications for 3D printing as time goes on, bringing to light amazing occurrences made possible by the use of 3D printers. Many individuals think the manufacturing sector and the global economy will undergo major changes because of 3D printing. Even though 3D printing has a few problems, big companies now see it as an important part of the manufacturing industry.

The 3D printing sector is large, however when compared to the world of Robotics, it pales in the size comparison. 3D printing is just a small cog in the wheel of robotics. If you would like to get into the world of robotics but don’t know where to start, then check out our main page for robotics at the homepage AweRobotics.com.


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Thanks!!! Super Detailed Article

Rated 5 out of 5
November 19, 2022

This is a great introduction to 3D printing, thank you very much!

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