How 3D Printers Work
3D printers have long been huge colossus only adapted for the industry but now they have shrunk and also work for home use.
Today, there are models for both true enthusiasts with a great computer experience for more pure amateurs. No matter what level you are at when it comes to how 3D printers work and what knowledge of computers, technology and 3D equipment you possess, there is a 3D printer to suit all different needs.
We will go over the basic concepts of 3D printers and help you understand your needs and opportunities a little better. 3D printers were something that felt very distant to ordinary households, and technology has long struggled with the same problems as the first-generation computers: they were simply too big.
But as the technology has been honed and improved, the machines have been refined, and the appliances available on the market today for home use are easy to handle and can be moved by a human without any problems.
Unfortunately, the machines are still back some, so there are benefits to having their printers slightly separated if possible. It should also be pointed out that the printers sold for home use are less fine-tuned than the high-tech equipment used to print dentures or spare parts for space rockets. However, printers intended for private use today are generally of good quality and can handle the type of printing that private users usually use without problems.
How 3D printers work in practice
In a very simplified way, it can be said that a 3D printer creates an object by laying thin layers of a material on top of each other, and in this way a three-dimensional shape is built up. The printout is based on a digital drawing or form that also sets the dimensions in all directions, often created in CAD programs.
The drawing is then transformed into STL (standard tessellation language) which is then sent to print to the 3D printer. Often you can see with the naked eye how the machine places a layer on top of another and the object takes shape in front of the eyes of the user. The materials can vary and modern printers can often handle both plastic, metal, and glass as well as some edible materials such as chocolate or biscuits of various kinds.
Depending on how advanced your 3D printer is, it may only handle one or two different materials, while industry-customized 3D printers can also mix materials within the same object.
3D printing takes place on a platform that can be raised and lowered during printing. Depending on the size of the object you want to print, and how nice the layers in the object should be, the printing process can take anywhere from an hour to several days.
The materials in a 3D printer are sometimes called filaments, which describe a very fine fiber structure that is joined into a three-dimensional object. Cheap filaments for your 3D printer can be purchased at various stores online or in conjunction with purchasing the 3D printer.
Various techniques used
3D printers from different brands use different types of technology to carry out 3D printing. The differences often lie in how the different layers that are formed are joined together to create a three-dimensional object.
A commonly used technology for private individuals is FDM (Fused deposition modeling), which is based on the fact that layers after layer of a molten plastic mass are sprayed through one or more nozzles and layered on layers on the object that is slowly being built up. The platform on which the object stands is continually lowered to give way to new layers to be placed on.
The plastic solidifies almost immediately when it comes out of the nozzle and the layers are automatically attached to each other through the filaments or fibers of the material. Common materials in the FDM technology are the ABS plastic, which is similar to Legoplats, or biodegradable site like PLA, but this technology can also work with chocolate, for example. Printers from the Makerbot brand use the FDM technology.
Another type of technique is so-called powder-based techniques, which is really a collective name for several different ways of printing based on the same principle. A powder is the basis of the print and is used as building material to shape the object. The powder may consist of powdered plastic, metal or, for example, glass.
The powder is poured onto the construction platform and the small particles adhere to each other with the aid of a binding fluid or a laser beam. In laser beam variants, particles are melted and then fused together to form a solid layer.
This technology makes it possible to create a greater variety of shapes and objects compared to other printing techniques, since the powder particles that are not melted or joined together work as a support during the construction process and can then easily be brushed off or reused in a new printing.
Examples of powder-based techniques are SLS (selective laser sintering) and DMLS (direct metal laser sintering), as well as EBM (electron beam meling), which, using a laser beam in a vacuum under very high heat, fuses powdered titanium into a solid object.
Still other models have fluid-based techniques such as SLA (stereolithography) and DLP (digital light processing). These techniques use a liquid building material in a container, which solidifies as it is exposed to different types of light. This technology also supports both plastic variants such as ABS and PLA filaments.
3D printers in different price ranges
The 3D printers used in the industry to print fashion accessories or prototypes of clothing collections, industry-specific spare parts or healthcare-related materials such as hip joints and bone prostheses are often of very high quality and cost accordingly.
A 3D printer adapted for industry or healthcare can often cost hundreds of thousands of dollars up to several millions, depending on what materials the machine is intended to use and how important the surface smoothness and color scheme are.
These 3D printers for home use often lie on more manageable sums and there are printers for around SEK 2 – 5,000, although these are then delivered in the form of building kits where the user is expected to assemble the product himself.
Anyone with good computer experience and extensive knowledge of the technology can probably handle this challenge without major problems, while other users often do best to invest in an already mounted machine