How Is 3D Printing Done?
- 17 November 2020
- Posted by: Namita Ahuja
- Category: Technology
The evolution of technology will never fail to surprise us. The ingenious creation of 3D printing is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file. Now, this might sound like sorcery and straight out of a sci-fi movie at first but it really isn’t. The highly versatile method of production has been making waves in industries all over the world. By now the question of how does 3D printing exactly works must have struck you. Well, let’s not wait any further, and jump into how it is done!
3D print takes a combination of powdered materials, top-tier software, precise tools, and a creative mind to create a three-dimensional object from scratch. The process involves making a graphic model that is usually designed by using Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software for the object to be printed.
In order to produce an object, the first step is modeling. Objects are designed with the utmost precision in 3D modeling software. Softwares like TinkerCAD, Fusion360, and Sketchup are used for this process. However, for certain designs, traditional manufacturing methods cannot be used as they require intricate details. This is where Computer-Aided Design comes into the picture. Complex products are made with the help of this software. This innovation is considered an absolute game changer as 3D printing allows rapid prototyping of anything you can imagine of.
Slicing the model
While technology is surpassing the human brain, the only drawback is that the 3D printers cannot comprehend or carry out the concept of three dimensions. So, this is only through engineers that the slicing of the model into layers takes place. The slicing of a 3D model into thousands of layers is done through slicing software. With the help of slicing software, the printer is able to recreate the particular layer. The strengthening and shaping of the object are done through the “filling” of a model. The model is sent off to the 3D printer after it is sliced and this is where the actual printing process begins!
3D printing Process
3D printing isn’t any different from the traditional inkjet printer. Well, the only difference is that the printer adds hundreds or thousands of 2D prints layering on top of one another to make a three-dimensional object. The printer uses a variety of materials in order to recreate an object. Materials such as Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, Carbon Fiber Filaments, Conductive Filaments are used in the printing process.
The process takes hours, days, or even weeks depending on the complexity or size of the object. The overall printing procedure is the same no matter the type of 3d printer is used.
Step 1 –This innovation has defeated the age-old notion that design isn’t of prime importance. Computer-Aided Design software is how the process gets started to make a 3D model.
As a wise man once said,
“The design is not just what it looks like and feels like. The design is how it works”Steve Jobs
Step 2 – Conversion of CAD drawing the standard tessellation language (STL) format.
Step 3 – The STL file is then transferred to the computer that controls the 3-D printer. The user designates the orientation and size for printing.
Step 4 – This is where the setting up of the machine takes place. Each machine having its own requirements such as refilling the polymers, binders, and other consumables the printer will use.
Step 5 – The build process is where the machine does its own thing. However, the machine is looked after like a watched pot to make sure that nothing goes wrong.
Step 6 – The object is removed from the machine. Extra precautions are taken during this process since the object is removed fresh from the oven, the heat and toxic chemicals can be fatal.
Step 7 – While we come to the end of the process all done and dusted there’s a further procedure required where the 3-D printers require post-processing for the printed object. This is done by brushing off any remaining powder or washing the printed object to remove water-soluble supports. This is where the new object is taken care of as it is weak during this step to ensure it doesn’t fall apart.
The 3D print is growing rapidly as the new revolution is taking place globally. 3D prints used in India are growing immensely in the field of medicine, fashion, automobile, and furniture. In India it is done by engineering students to design prototypes that are immensely used in medical labs for studying human organs and are also extensively used for artwork. 3D printing dates back to 1983 but many see it as a new trend due to its recent widespread use, especially in the face of the current COVID-19 pandemic.