What does your home printer do for you?
3D Printing can create a new vase or a vinyl placemat or a new dress. This is done using a 3D printer. The 3 dimensional or 3D printer adds a whole new scope to what you are able to do with a printer today.
Your standard home printer probably prints in 2 dimensions. 3D printers, as the name implies, print in three dimensions and are capable of printing literally anything at all.
3D printing is also known as an additive manufacturing because of the way in which it works. 3D printers function by adding layer upon layer of materials until they create nearly any type of solid object that you might imagine. For this reason they are very popular in manufacturing and are helping us to get innovative new goods on the market.
3D printers are not all created equal as you might imagine. There are several types on the market, used in manufacturing and in some cases, available for home use.Dependent upon a few considerations, you’ll choose the printer that will best serve your needs.
The things that you may want to consider before you buy are:
- The purpose of the printer
- The technique of printing that you want to use
- The budget with which you must work.
Those things aside, here’s what is available to you using 3D printing technology.
Also called FDM, this technology was brought into play in the late 80s. Using this type of printing, a few drops of melted thermoplastics are joined and they form a shape. As it cools and hardens, the 3 dimensional object is created. The layers continue to be formed, each one adhering to the last one to finally form a solid 3 dimensional object.
This is the most popular and most commonly used type of 3D printing. It’s easier to understand how it works if you actually see it in action with this Youtube Video.
Also an invention of the 80s, this is the first type of 3D printing ever to be used in commercial 3D printing. A beam of concentrated UV rays hits the surface of the object that you want to make. The object is fulll of photopolymer. When the concentrated light hits the resin you get a high resolution model of the object.
Very similar in nature to the preceding method, sintering uses powdered materials to create the 3D object. You might select from any type of materials, from ceramic to aluminum to steel, silver, gold or even glass. Nylon is a very popular choice among manufacturers.
Selective Laser Melting is a type of printing that melts a powder and fuses it to create the objects that you want.
Laminated Object Manufacturing is becoming more and more popular. It is a technique in which plastic, paper or other materials are glued together. They are cut with a knife or a laser and that is what gives them their form.
These are the three dimensional printers that are available to you today. Many are quite costly and dependent upon what you want them to do, it may be more cost effective to order the products in question.
It must also be noted that 3D printers–
just as every other technology does when it is no longer new—are going down in price. It appears that it won’t be long before many of us will have the ability to create our own 3D objects in our own office or living room using a personal 3D printer.