What is 3D printing?
Are you serious that I can print anything in 3D? If that’s a surprise, then the answer to that is yes you can. The latest technological innovation made in printing is 3D printing or its also called additive manufacturing. Which means we can print any desired object in three-dimensions.This technology has revolutionized the traditional manufacturing techniques. We can make a prototype of a product in a scaled size using this 3D printing.
The printer which we use for 3D printing is called a 3D printer. This technology was developed in the late 1980s in Japan in the name of rapid prototyping. As the name suggests the main purpose of this technology is to make prototypes of products. This technology came into effect on a large scale only in 2012 when a funding company named Kickstarter released its 3D printer named B9Creator which uses DLP Technology. The main point you need to note is none of the 3D printers available today are just plug and play. There are multiple steps before you can press the print button and start printing your 3D object. The 3D printer prints your 3D design layer by layer. The material in which the model needs to be printed must be fed into a printer like refilling the cartridge in an inkjet printer.
How does a 3D printer work?
So, as said earlier a 3D printer is not your regular print to just plug and print. Then you may ask how does a 3D printer work? The answer to this question needs to be answered in a very detailed manner. A 3D printer consists of several components and mechanisms which make the printer to print your 3D model. In simple terms there are a lot of things which get done in the background before you get your 3D model printed. The first and the foremost thing that makes you think about 3D printing is, what materials can I use for printing my 3D model. The materials that are used for printing must be in a powdered form. The materials used for printing can be metal, nylon, ceramic, or plastic. So a 3D printer melts the powdered materials using a light or heat source. The heat/light source is primarily fitted into the printer. The printer just jets and deposits the materials in a predetermined shape in multiple layers. Most of the entry-level 3D printers use deposition technique to print the 3D model.
2.1. The 3D printing process
- Stereolithography (SL): The stereolithography is a laser-based process which uses photopolymer resins that reacts with the laser and cures in a very precise manner to produce accurate parts. Because of the nature of the SL process, this process requires support structures for some parts.
- DLP(or) Digital Light Processing: This process is very similar to the SL 3D printing process. The only difference is the light source. DLP uses a more conventional light source, like an arc lamp.DLP can produce more precise parts with excellent resolution.
- Extrusion(or)FDM(or)FFF: 3D printing using the extrusion of thermoplastics is a very easy and recognizable 3DP technique. This process works by melting a plastic filament that is deposited using a heated extruder, layer by layer over a build platform according to the data which is fed into the printer. The most common materials used for this type of entry-level printers are PLA and ABS.
- Selective Deposition Lamination: SDL is a proprietary 3D printing process developed by MCor Technologies. The SDL process builds the parts layer by layer on a standard copier paper. Each new layer is fixed over the existing layer using an adhesive. SDL is among the few 3D printing techniques that can print in the CYMK pattern.
- Electron Beam Melting: The electron beam melting is a 3D printing technique developed by Arcam. The heat source used in this process is an electron-beam. This process is carried out under vacuum conditions only.
2.2. Materials which we can use in a 3D printer?
The materials for 3D printing have come a long way since the early days. There is a wide variety of material types, supplied in different states i.e. powder, granules, pellets, filaments, etc.
Specific materials are particularly developed for specific applications or requirements for 3d printing. Some of the most commonly used 3D printing materials are
- Plastics – Nylon/Polyamide are generally used in a powdered form in 3D printers. These materials are white by default, colors can be added according to the predefined CYMK pattern.
- Metals – Stainless-steel is the most commonly used material for 3D printing. In the recent past gold and silver are also used as materials for 3D printing.
3. Making money with a 3D printer?
One of the easiest ways to make money from a professional 3D printer is using the printer for commercial purposes , create a logo and selling the products made using it. Some of the major businesses and individuals often require products made using 3D printing. We can list the 3D printer that we have on various websites that offer 3D printing services. We can collect orders from these websites and produce the ordered model using our 3D printer. Some of the most commonly used 3D printing service websites are
- 3D Hubs
We can also offer 3D printing courses to the industry to bring down the cost of training. These courses can also be offered as a practical course for engineering, construction, design, and architecture students.
4. Advantages of a professional 3D printer
- Decrease the cost and time of prototyping.
- Reduce the errors caused during design and fabrication.
- Possibility of making more prototypes of the same design.
- Increase the ability to make complex products.
A professional 3D printer with suitable equipment and trained personnel can make us a large sum of money. The major point that we have to make in our mind is 3D printer is unlike our normal day-to-day printer. The investment that we make to buy a professional 3D printer is much less than the profit that we can earn from it.