3D printing is a revolutionary technology that’s likely to have an enormous impact on the world. But what exactly is it?
3D Printing-Whatchu Talkin’ About?
3D printing is the process of creating a three-dimensional object from a digital file. It’s like printing out a document, except instead of ink being deposited onto paper, plastic or metal powder is laid down layer by layer to create an object with any shape or color you can imagine.
3D printing has been around for decades, but it was only in 2008 that it started to become mainstream. Today, there are more than 1,000 3D printers available for purchase and thousands more in development.
A 3D printer essentially reads a digital file and creates a physical object based on that file. That digital file can be created by hand or created using software, such as a CAD (computer-aided design) program. The resulting object is a solid object made of plastic or metal, with the same properties as the materials it was printed from. So you can print an exact copy of something made out of wood or plastic.
The idea behind 3D printing is simple: Take an object and convert it into a digital file (usually through CAD software). Then use that file to print out an exact replica of the original object using one of several methods: extrusion (basically squirting out melted plastic), laser sintering (melting together tiny particles of metal) or stereolithography (using lasers to cure liquid resin).
A Brief History of 3D Printing
Types of 3D Printers
When you talk about 3D printing, you may mean one of the following:
A device that uses a digital blueprint to create a physical object by printing layer upon layer of material. This material can be plastic, metal or even living cells. There are different types of 3D printers, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Some can print larger objects than others and some can print in more than one color.
FDM (fused deposition modeling)
One type of 3D printer that uses a filament spool to extrude plastic material, layer by layer, in order to create an object. FDM is the most common type of 3D printing technology and it’s used by several different manufacturers like MakerBot and Stratasys.
Another type of 3D printing technology that uses light shining through a liquid resin to harden it into an object as it’s being printed layer by layer. The SLA process is slower than FDM but it produces higher quality parts due to the fact that there are fewer layers involved in the process and that each layer gets cured before adding another layer on top of it . The biggest drawback to the SLA process is that the resin used in it can be expensive and the finished parts are usually more delicate than those produced by FDM.
Open Source vs. Closed Source
The 3D printing industry is a lot like the Wild West. There are so many different types of printers and materials that it can be difficult to know which one is right for you. To help, we’ve created a brief guide to some of the most common terms you’ll encounter when shopping for 3D printers.
The biggest difference between open source 3D printers and closed source ones is that open source ones can be modified and improved by anyone who wants to do so because they use standard parts instead of proprietary ones. A closed source printer would have code that prevents users from being able to modify it in any way, shape or form without breaking copyright laws or licenses if they wanted to use their own parts instead of official ones sold by the manufacturer.
The open-source movement has become increasingly popular in recent years, but it’s not just software that benefits from being open source — 3D printing does as well! Open-source printers are made by companies that release their designs and software codes for free, making them available for anyone to download and use at no cost. This allows for faster innovation within the industry, as well as more affordable prices for consumers who want to buy their own printer without having to spend thousands of dollars on proprietary parts or software licenses. Most of our printers fall into this category! Closed-source printers may be less expensive initially, but they’re also less customizable and often require costly upgrades if you want to do anything beyond basic printing jobs.
There are many reasons why companies choose to use closed source software, but all of them boil down to one thing: money. When you buy a piece of software, it’s yours forever — or at least as long as you continue to pay for updates and support. The company that created it has no claim on your product, so if you’re unhappy with it in any way, you can just walk away and find something else that works better for you. The same goes for hardware — if someone makes a 3D printer that doesn’t work properly for some reason (or worse), then there’s nothing stopping you from buying another one from someone else who does their job better than the first one did theirs.
Speed of the Print Process
The speed of the print process depends on several factors. One of them is the size of the object, which determines how much material needs to be deposited. If you are printing a large object, it will take longer than a small one. Another factor is the level of detail that you want to achieve in your print. The higher the detail, the slower the process becomes because more time is required for each layer to dry and become solid enough for printing to continue on top of it.
The speed also depends on your printer manufacturer and model. Some printers have a lower maximum resolution than others, so they cannot achieve high-resolution prints at all speeds or at all layers; some have better hardware than others, allowing them to perform better overall; some have faster print heads (the part that deposits material), etc..
Cost of 3D Printing
3D printers are still a relatively new technology, so it’s hard to know what the future will hold for them. However, there are some things we can say about their present.
The cost of 3D printing is a big consideration for anyone looking to invest in one. The price of the printer itself can vary greatly depending on what you’re looking for and where you buy it from. 3D printers can run from as little as $500 up to $10000 or more.
The quality of the print also affects pricing. Some printers are able to produce higher quality prints than others, but this also comes with a higher price tag.
3D printing is a relatively new technology, and it’s still evolving. There are many different types of printers available, with different price points and capabilities.
There are two main types of 3D printers: FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) and SLA (Stereolithography). FDM printers use plastic filaments that are melted and extruded through a nozzle to create layers of material one on top of another. SLA printers use a UV laser to solidify a liquid resin that is applied one layer at a time.
If you want to get started with 3D printing right away, it’s best to look at budget options first before investing in more expensive machines with more advanced features and capabilities that may not be necessary at this point.
Each type has its own benefits and drawbacks:
FDM – Cheap and easy to use, but low resolution models can take longer to print than those produced by other methods.
SLA – High-quality prints in a short amount of time, but expensive materials cost more per print than FDM models.
Where and How to Find Files to Print
In order to print anything on your 3D printer, you need a file or template from an object that you want to print. There are several ways to get these files:
If you have access to an office or school computer with internet access and a printer driver installed, you can download files from sites like Thingiverse and MyMiniFactory. These sites have thousands of templates for objects that can be printed on most home 3D printers.
If you don’t have access to a computer with internet access but still want to print something from Thingiverse or MyMiniFactory, there are some smartphone apps that can help you find what you’re looking for by using your camera’s built-in scanner. These apps will scan any object that they see through their camera lens and then provide a list of matching options on their website or app store page where they found them . What’s great about these mobile apps is that they allow the user more freedom than if they were simply using a computer, as they can scan objects that are not in front of a screen. The downside to these apps is that they require internet access in order to use them, which can be difficult if you don’t have access or don’t want to pay for data on your phone plan.
3D printing technology is going to change the world – so much so that it recently posed a threat to Obama’s reelection campaign. It is a revolutionary, evolutionary step forward in technology which guarantees to have a huge impact on our lives. Yet the majority of us still do not know exactly what 3D printing actually is and how we can use it.