What is 3D Printing? – 11 Facts You Should Know!


3D printing is used in different fields. Medicine, automobiles, architecture, space, and many more. The basic functions are similar to all the 3D printers. If there is a difference, because of the technology or functionality. There are many 3d printers like those that can be used in domestic also industrial.

If you do not have any experience with 3d printing you can get the basic fundamentals after you read this. I have included here the basic things and the reasons. So I think it is better you read this and comment on any problem if you have. So let’s start!

Understand the 3D Printing Process

Simply we can say 3D printing is a computer-based manufacturing process with laying thin layers of the specified material. For that we need specific software and also we need a 3D printer.

This is a computer-based manufacturing process hence we need specific computer software to do this. If we need to do 3D printing we need mainly 3D parts

01. 3D model
02. Printing process software (Slicer Software)
03. 3D printer and accessories

The first step is preparing a 3D model. We can use any 3D modeling software to do this. There are both and paid versions so you can use one and create a model. As well as you can download the 3D model online if you need it. And also if you are using a 3D scanning camera you can make a 3D scan of the existing object.

When you get a model you need a 3D printing software (Slicer Software) to input your model details to the 3D printer as code (G-Code). There is much 3D printing software that you can use for this task. You will no need much-advanced knowledge to do this process. Everything will be clearly visible.

After you have everything you must need a 3D printer which is essential for 3D printing. A 3D printer is a machine that can move 3 axis X, Y, Z simply we can say it moves along the horizontal and vertical axis. This machine is operated with software in the computer and it moves according to the coordinates.

Each part of your work area can be named according to the X, Y, Z. So the computer software name each point as a coordinate and move the printing head to each point and paste the melted plastic to that point.

It happens again and again. So layer by layer it prints from the bottom. If there are some parts that need support it will create supports separately.

This is a simple explanation of 3D printing. For the depth, I will explain more.

What are the Usages of 3D Printing?

We use computer models to see the shape, color, size, comparisons, etc. Beyond that, we can touch and feel it with 3D printing. Imagine you are going to produce a new product. And also you are going to invest more money in that.

Will it be successful or fail can you tell? You may see a computer-based model. But can you predict what will happen it? Are you ready to take the risk for your money? Here we have an option for this. 3D printing is the solution. You need to prepare a 3D model using a CAD program and then get a 3d print of your product. You can touch and feel its shape, size, and many more.

Most leading companies like Audi, NASA, and many more companies use 3D printing to reduce their time wasting and money. So it is a great approach if you are going to start it. It will be a huge demand in the future.

What are the Applications of 3D Printing?

In recent years 3D printing has developed rapidly and it plays crucial roles in many applications in manufacturing, medicine, architecture, custom art, and design.

Medical applications
There are so many things we can observe in the medical field. Bio-Printing, Medical device printing, Pharmaceutical formulations are a few of them. All of these are based on 3D printing.

Architecture
This is a vast area. If you are an engineer you can observe how the wind affects the building by using the real model without creating the building. It will save time and huge money.

Industrial application
This is the major area we use 3D printing. We can create industrial art and jewelry. Before investing in jewelry production, we can make a model and do estimates as well as create a mold for the product.
In the automotive industry, we use this mostly. We can create and print new models of vehicles and parts as we need and test them. This is a huge usage.

More than this we can use 3D printing in construction and home development, firearms, computers and robots, soft sensors and actuators, space, etc. The basic thing is using 3D printing is to reduce time and money. It is a great option more than real production.

The aim of this article is not about the 3D printing applications. So you can check more applications here.

What are the Best 3D Printing Technology?

There are 10 types of technologies that we can find in 3D printing. All final step is same but some functions and used technologies are different. Each one is suitable for each task.

  • Stereolithography (SLA)
  • Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)
  • Multi-Jet Modeling (MJM)
  • Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
  • Digital light processing (DLP)
  • Polyjet technology
  • Selective laser melting (SLM)
  • Selective heat sintering (SHS)
  • Electron Beam Melting (EBM)
  • Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM)

Stereolithography (SLA)
UV laser is used to draw a pre-programmed design or shape onto the surface of the photopolymer vat. Photopolymers are sensitive to ultraviolet light, so the resin is photochemically solidified and forms a single layer of the desired 3D object. Then, the build platform lowers one layer, and a blade recoats the top of the tank with resin. This process is repeated for each layer of the design until the 3D object is complete.

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)
This is known as the material extrusion additive manufacturing technique, which utilizes polymers as the raw material (filament). The filament is usually heated to a molten state and then extruded through the nozzle of the machine and lay on the coordinates.

Multi-Jet Modeling (MLM)
Multi-jet modeling is liquid acrylic polymers are layered onto a build platform with a printhead with one or more nozzles and cured by exposure to UV lamps.

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
The laser beam is used to heat and melt the sinter powder material. The laser beam is aimed to the point in the space defined by the 3D model and binding the material together to create a solid structure.

Polyjet Technology
This is like an inkjet printer. Instead of ink in the printer here drops photopolymer that solidifies when exposed to UV light.

Selective Laser Melting (SLM)
High-powered density laser to melt and fuse metallic powders together. This is highly used in industry and it can produce high-strength objects.

Selective Heat Sintering (SHS)
This is used thermal printhead to apply heat to the material layers of powdered thermoplastic. When a layer is finished the power bed moves down and the automated roller adds a new powder to a new layer.

Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM)
Layers of adhesive-coated paper, plastic, or metal laminates are successively glued together and cut to shape with a knife or laser cutter.

Essential Things to Start 3D Printing

Before start 3D printing you should need few more essential things. You must have a 3D model (CAD Model) Where you can find it? You can make a CAD model as well as download online.

Here are the essential things that you need to start the 3D printing
01. 3D model – You can download or make it yourself using free 3D modeling software
02. 3D printing software – Convert 3D data to printing data or save the date on an SSD card. (Slicer software)
03. 3D printer – For the 3D printing process
04. Alcohol – Use isopropyl alcohol to clean and prevent adhesiveness with printer bed
05. Scissors – To cut the material cable
06. Spatula – Remove the printed object from the printing bed
07. Glue stick – To paste some parts

Understand the Main Parts and Task of a 3D Printer

There are 10 main parts of the 3D printer. It can be different based on the 3d printing technology. But mainly there are 10 parts. You should know these technical terms when you use 3D printing.

01. Filament – Material of the 3d printing. It likes ink in the inkjet printer. This is a cable. The cable is rolled and it can be store in the printer and when printing it comes out.

02. Extruder – For the 3D printing process material is melted. So this function is done by using the extruder. It can be heated 200C0

03. Nozzle – Melted material comes out through a small hole it is the nozzle.

04. Stepper motor – Powerful motor for movements of the printer’s axis

05. RepRap – An open-source 3D printer movement

06. Bed – 3D printed object is produced area

07. G code – Instructions of the machine describing every moment

08. Slicer – Software that converts 3D models to G code (software)

09. Axis – Horizontal and vertical axis of the 3D printer.

10 Carriage – Moving part that the extruder sits on.

How to Start Your First 3D Printing?

After you read all the above facts I think you have a clear idea to start 3D printing now! There are few steps you should follow to do 3D printing. Each one has a reason and you can see why you should do it. Those are essential and those will lead to giving you a better output.

Step 01 – Prepare the 3D model or download it online

Step 02 – Prepare the G-code using the below software and save it to the SSD

  • Slic3r
  • Skeiforge
  • KISSlicer

Step 03 – Level bed using screws.

3D printing is going on the bed so the bed should be well leveled. Else some parts will be missing and some time layers thickness will not the same. Hence pay your attention to the level of the bed.

Step 04 – Get the bed close to the nozzle. Keep the paper on the bed and then move up as it reaches the extruder. Do not keep too much close as well as far. Do the same process for the 04 corners.

Step 05 – Loading the filament
The extruder needs to be ready to extrude the filament before printing begins.

Step 06 – Start the printing process

Read More About – 21 Tips You Should Follow for Quality 3D Printing

How to Do Post Productions of the 3D Printed Object?

Right now you have a 3D printed object. So what you should do now. You can see the surface is a bit rough and some parts are not finished properly. So what do you need to do?

01. Cleaning
01. Remove support material (FDM and Material jetting)
02. Powder removal (SLS and Powder Bed Fusion)
03. Washing (SLA and Photopolymerisation)

02. Fixing
01. Filing – Do small repairs of small holes and cracks of the object
02. Gluing and welding – If printed separately add together

03. Curing
Baking the models after they have been printed enhances the mechanical properties

04. Surface Finishing
01. Sanding – Use sandpaper to remove excess part of the object
02. Vapour or Chemical smoothing – Use chemicals to make a smooth surface. Use Acetone for PLA and ABS material.
03. Coloring – Add relevant color if you did not use relevant color.

How to Select the Material for 3D Printing?

According to the usage of your 3D printed model, you should use which material is suitable for your printing. If you are going to use it with water dissolved material is not good for the printing process.

Below is the material that we use in the 3D printing. So you had better select the material that you need and check whether it matches your printer.

  • ABS – This is a low-cost material and great for printing tough and durable parts that can resist high temperatures.
  • PLA – This is a low-cost material and it is easy to use and accuracy
  • Flexible – Flexible filaments are used in TPE or TPU. These materials are with elasticity and easily stretch and bend.
  • ASA – This is an alternative to the ABS and great for outdoor applications due to its high UV, temperature, and impact resistance
  • PETG – Ease of printability, smooth surface, finish, and water resistance
  • Polycarbonate – This is used due to its high strength and durability. And also there is a high end finishing.
  • Carbon fiber Filled – This is based on PLA or ABS based material to help and increase the strength
  • Nylon – This is a semi-flexible material. It is with high abrasion resistance and ideal choice for the printing durable parts
  • Metal Filled – These filaments are made by mixing a fine metal powder into the base material. This is added unique metallic finish and added weight
  • Wood filled – Wood filaments combine a PLA based material with cork, wood dust this gives a real feel of the wood to the object
  • PVA – This is dissolved in water hence use it as a support material

How to Maintenance the 3D Printer Properly?

For the durability of your 3D printer as well as for the high-end 3D printing you need to maintain your 3D printer very well. What you should follow?

Bed cleaning
After 3D printing, you can see some particles may adhere to the bed. So it is a great idea to clean all. The reason is when you print next time it will adhere to the object and it will affect the shape. hence you had better keep it clean. Use cotton cloths and wipe out free parts of the bed. If you can remove the best you can wash it with detergent also.

Nozzle cleaning
The nozzle is one of the most important parts of 3D printing. So you had better keep it clean. After the 3D printing process is over you can clean it with a cotton button to remove the adhesive part on the nozzle. And if there is a bit high temperature you can clean. It is perfect.

Keep Platform clear
When the printing is starting drool is happen. These excess filament parts will remain on the bed. And You can remove them to keep clean the platform

Read More About – My 3D Printer Nozzle Clogged and How I Fixed It?

What are the Goal of the 3D Printing Process?

For 3D printing, you may need to buy a 3D printer or you need to create it yourself. So if you buy a printer you have to invest money in that. What is next? Do you print it as a hobby? Probably no. There is a huge market that you can sell your 3D print object.

You can get the orders from the client and do the 3D print and delivery. It is a good business. As well as learn everything every time. So it is a great investment for your time.

Ricky Louis

Hey.. I am Ricky Louis, A professional graphic designer with years of experience in 3D modeling. I would like to share my knowledge with you.

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