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Introduction to 3D Printing

3D printing introduction

This video will teach you the basics about 3d printing technology: 

It will cover: 

  • What is a 3d printer
  • What is 3d printing
  • How 3d printers work 
  • Some of the applications 3d printers used in 
  • Some of the materials that are used in 3d printing

Hopefully by the end of this article you have a clear understanding of what 3d print technology is all about. 


What is 3d printing 

The first thing we will discuss is exactly what 3d printing is. It is a process to make a real life tangible object. It’s taking your idea and making it become a reality. And you do that by using a computer model. You design your concept on a computer and send it to the 3d printer and the 3d printer makes that model. 3d printing is used mostly in two areas and that is product development and prototyping. A lot of companies are using 3d printers to make things. You can create your objects in computers and 3d print them at a very low cost without going through a whole manufacturing process that takes hundreds of thousands of dollars.


What is a 3d printer

A 3d printer is a machine that prints on three axes. They are not like a 2d printer which prints paper or pictures and only has flat surfaces. But if you could take that picture or that text or whatever it is on that piece of paper and pull it up then that’s your third dimension.. 3d printers have an X, a Y, and a Z-axis, at least for most 3d printers. In this case we’re going to talk about fused filament fabrication in this video or that’s F F for short.

The 3d printer has a left and right axis, which is the X; a Y axis, which is the front and back; and a Z which is up and down. Now the 3d printer also has an extruder called the printhead. Some people call it extruder or print head. Those terms can be interchanged. It takes the plastic and feeds it in and squeezes it out onto a print surface called the bed. This bed collects the material.


How does the 3d printing process actually work

First you have to have a computer model. There are many different types of ways you can create a model. We call this process 3D modeling and use CAD (Computer-Aided Design) software to do that. But for the most part you have to create that model in some type of computer program. You do it, or you have someone else do it, or you can actually download those off the internet, but it has to go into a computer. Once that object is into the computer you now have to convert it over to the 3d printer for it to read. This process is called slicing. It basically takes that model that you have and converts it into individual layers and converts it to a code. That code is then given to the 3d printer and then your object is made from that. So the way a 3d printer actually builds it is by taking those layers one upon another and joining them together. This is called additive manufacturing where products or material are actually fused together and melted together to join into one object at the end.


Some of the applications of 3d printing

A lot of architect firms are now getting into 3d printing. Even though you do have 3d renders on a

computer that you can show people, how awesome it is to hand someone a 3d model of their concept. 

These industries are using 3d printers for making models and concepts.. GE made a 3d printable model  of a compression engine of a jet. They put this model out for people to be able to 3d print and was made in different pieces so people could see the inside of a compression engine.

  • Jewelry and fashion 

These industries are using 3d printers now. A lot of artists are also able to create their concepts

and ideas using 3d printing technology. Some are creating movie props. Others such as jewelry designers can 3d model things at such intricate detail. With 3d printers you can have these prototypes of plastic models converted over to metal and you can sell these as a business.


  • Health and medical

An example in the health medical industry is a  prosthetic hand for someone who is missing fingers. What’s crazy about this is the cost. To be able to 3d print a prosthetic now is so much lower than what it used to be. This is disruptive technology which means it could interrupt some of the businesses that are using old methods. But if they adapt they can now use 3d printing technology for these types of things in the health and medical world.


  • Hobby industry 

Users are  making model trains, LEGO pieces, figurines, and different gaming pieces. An example of a hobby object is a 3d printed Joe Burrow statue. This is something I 3d modeled (GEAUX Tigers) after Joe Burrow won the heisman Trophy.


Materials used is in 3d printing

In the 3D technology we’re talking about (FFF- few filament fabrication) plastic is used for most parts. There are many different types but the main two are: PLA and ABS. PLA is a biodegradable plastic. It’s a lot safer to use and it doesn’t have any odor.  ABS which is the plastic that LEGO are made from does have somewhat of an older and is a bit trickier to 3d print. Now each has their own uses. ABS is a little bit stronger than PLA but to each his own use.

With 3d printing you need to understand 3d modeling. That basically means knowing how to create something on a computer that’s a digital 3d model. Now for 3d printing it is a special type of 3d model. With 3d printing and 3d modeling together it can open you up to a wide world of opportunity. But even if you left off 3d printing 3d modeling itself can teach you things like: engineering and architecture, gaming design, graphic design, gaming, you name it. 3d modeling itself can open you up to a world of options but when you combine it with 3d printing you can do so much more in business, in education, or to create stuff as a hobby.



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