3D Printing

What is 3D Printing?

3D Printing

Introduction

What is 3D printing? Why it got that much significance in the latest manufacturing methodologies. Why the world is moving towards this incredible technology.

3D printing is a game changer innovative technology that lets you to create a physical object (Plastic or Metallic) from a digital model. Coming to the technology, it got initiated in the 1980’s by the name of Rapid prototyping.

This technology intention is to build the prototype models quickly.

The process generate the prototypes much faster than many other conventional manufacturing methods.

A lot of modifications took place in the technology since then, and today 3D printers offer much more sophisticated results and let you create anything you can imagine.

3D Printing

3D printing is the manufacturing process in which the raw material is continuously added layer by layer. The process is continuous until the desired final part is complete.

The technology is significant because it offers direct manufacturing, meaning a design goes directly from the system to physical product without any manufacturing drawing through a computer and a printer.

The technology is significant because it offers direct manufacturing, meaning a design goes directly from the system to physical product without any manufacturing drawing through a computer and a printer.

3D printing doesn’t remove material like the traditional subtractive manufacturing. Hence it is called as additive manufacturing.

3D printing is a fundamentally different way of producing parts compared to traditional subtractive (CNC machining) or formative (Injection molding) manufacturing technologies.

3D Printing Model
Models

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How does 3D Printing work?

There are four major stages in the 3D printing. They are

  1. Modeling
  2. Pre-processing
  3. Printing
  4. Finishing

Modeling

3D printing starts with a digital file derived from computer aided design (CAD) software. The mechanical engineers create the CAD models using the CAD tools.

Once a design is completed, the CAD model is exported as stereo lithography file format (STL) that means the file is translated into triangulated surfaces and vertices.

CAD model
CAD

Pre-processing

The CAD model is imported into the 3D printing software and analyzed the geometry for deciding the part orientation.

Orientation: Orientation refers to how and which direction a part is placed on the 3D printing build platform.

Supports: Most 3D models require support structures to act as “scaffolding” for features that can’t be built above open air as they may contain curved geometries, overhangs, undercuts holes, cavities, etc.

Where supports are required largely depends on the material, build process (3D print technology) and build resolution (layer thickness), among other factors.

Support structures are usually made using the same or similar material as the final build and are removed after the model cures.

The CAD model is then sliced by the printer’s software into thin 2-dimensional layers.

Then turned into a set of instructions in machine language (G-code) for the printer to execute.

Model Supports
Supports

Printing

First, you need to choose which material will best achieve the specific properties required for your object. The variety of materials used in 3D printing is very broad. It includes plastics, metals, composites and food materials.

When your 3D model is sliced, you are ready to feed it to your 3D printer. This can be done via USB, SD or Wi-Fi. It really depends on what 3D printer brand you work with. When a file is uploaded in a 3D printer, the object is ready to be 3D printed layer by layer.

Finishing

Once the printing is complete, need to remove the supports and extra projections and colored for better look.

Following Industries are leveraging 3D printing services to bring their products much faster to the market to grab.

3D Printing Applications

Automotive

Aviation

Aerospace

Construction

Architecture

Consumer Products

Medical

Dental

Food

Fashion

Electronics

Education

Rapid Prototyping

Rapid Manufacturing

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3D Printing Advantages

3D printing is a rapidly developing additive manufacturing technology. Here we summarize the most important benefits of this process.

1. Geometric complexity

This Technology allows easy fabrication of complex shapes, many of which cannot be produced by any other manufacturing method.

3D Printing
3D Printing

2. Very low start-up costs

The process does not need any specialized tooling, there is no tooling costs. The cost of a 3D printed part depends only on the amount of material used; the time it took the machine to print it and the post-processing – if any – required achieving the desired finish.

3. Customization of each part

3D printing though allows for easy customization. Since start-up costs are so low.

4. Low-cost prototyping with very quick turnaround

One of the main uses of 3D printing today is prototyping – both for form and function.

5. Large range of (specialty) materials

The most common materials used today are plastics. Metal 3D printing finds also an increasing number of industrial applications.

The 3D printing pallet also includes specialty materials with properties tailored for specific applications. 3D printed parts today can have high heat resistance, high strength or stiffness and even be bio-compatible.

3D Printing Limitation

1. Lower strength & an-isotropic material properties

Generally, 3D printed parts have physical properties that are not as good as the bulk material: since they are built layer-by-layer, they are weaker and more brittle in one direction by approximately 10% to 50%.

2. Less cost-competitive at higher volumes

3D printing cannot compete with traditional manufacturing processes when it comes to large production runs.

3. Limited accuracy & tolerances

The accuracy of 3D printed parts depends on the process and the calibration of the machine.

4. Post-processing & support removal

Printed parts are rarely ready to use off the printer. They usually require one or more post-processing steps.

Support removal is needed in most of the printed parts. 3D printers cannot add material on thin air, so supports are structures that are printed with the part to add material under an overhang or to anchor the printed part on the build platform.

The different types of 3D printing Processes

Different types of 3D printing processes are categorized as these seven groups:

Material Extrusion (FDM): This process works by material being melted and extruded through a nozzle to 3D print a cross section of an object each layer at a time.

Vat Polymerization (SLA & DLP): The object is 3D printed by pulling the object out of the resin (bottom up), which creates space for the uncured resin at the bottom of the container and can then form the next layer of the object.

Powder Bed Fusion (SLS, DMLS & SLM): Laser sintering is a one of the technique consisting of the fabrication of an object by melting successive layers of powder together in order to form an object.

Material Jetting (MJ): Droplets of material are selectively deposited and cured

Binder Jetting (BJ): Liquid bonding agent selectively binds regions of a powder bed

Direct Energy Deposition (LENS, LBMD): A high-energy source fuses material as it is deposited

Sheet Lamination (LOM, UAM): Sheets of material are bonded and formed layer-by-layer

3D Printing Companies

Stratasys

SLM Solutions Group

3D Systems

HP

Materialise

Proto Labs

Nano Dimension

Organovo

ExOne

Voxeljet

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