Have you heard about 3d printers in the market today? Additive manufacturing or 3D printing is a process that entails designing three dimensional objects using different materials. The creation of three D objects is attained through laying down different layers of material until an object has been created. Each of the layers appears as thinly sliced horizontal objects when done.
How do 3D printers work?
It all begins with designing a virtual design of specific object that you would like to create. The virtual design is created with the help of computer Aided Design using the 3D modelling program.
This allows for the creation of a new object or with the help of a 3D scanner. A high quality 3D scanner allows you to create a 3D digital copy of the object you want to print. 3D scanners apply different technologies in order to generate a 3D model like volumetric scanning, structured modulated light and time of flight just to mention some of them.
Recently, IT companies such as Cartridge Express and Microsoft went ahead to enable their hardware to undertake 3D scanning. One of the best examples on the market is the Microsoft Kinetic. This clearly shows that the future of handheld gadgets such as smartphones are going to feature integrated 3D scanners.
Steps in 3d printing
To prepare your file for 3D printing, you will use a 3D modelling software to slice the final model to various horizontal layers. When you upload the file in a 3D printer, it will read each of the slices and then create the object. The device will blend different layers into visible signs of the layers that are going to result from the 3d object that requires printing.
Not all 3D printers on the market use the same technology. There are numerous ways that you can print your files with a 3D printer. All these ways are very additive. The difference involves the way layers are built in order to create your final object.
There are certain methods that use softening and melting materials in producing the different layers. The SLS (Selective laser Sintering and FDM (Fused Deposition) are among the most common technologies that use this method of printing files. The other method involves curing a photo reactive resin using the UV laser. The common way of printing is the stereolithography. The additive manufacturing can be categorized in different ways. The seven processes include the following
• Material jetting- The material is applied in the form of droplets using small size diameter nozzle that appears like an inkjet printer.
• Binder jetting- the process uses liquid binder and powder base material. The finished object is then glued together using binder remains.
• Vat Photopolymerisation- The method has a contained completely filled with resin that can be hardened using UV light source.
• Sheet lamination- The technique involved materials in the form of sheets being bound together using external force. The sheets can be in metallic, paper or polymer form. Metallic sheet can be welded together using ultrasonic layers. The paper sheets are put together using an adhesive and then cut into the right shape using precise blades.