How is it possible for a printer to produce a 3D object? How does 3D printing work? These are common questions people have when they first hear about this new technology. Some don’t believe it at first and have to see it for themselves before they do.
Below, we will explain how 3D printing works, what materials are needed for 3D printing, what it’s used for, and the benefits of 3D printing.
How Does 3D Printing Work?
A 3D printer can make everyday objects, such as ceramic cups, metal machine parts, and tools. When people first hear of this concept, they wonder how does 3D printing work, especially when more than one material is needed for an object. Printers that print documents replaced the use of a printing press, hot metal type, bottles of ink, and a drying rack for printing paper. It simplified the process and made it easier to print paper documents. A 3D printer is similar; it replaces traditional factory production lines.
Understanding how regular paper printing works will help you understand how does 3D printing work. The text and pictures on a sheet of paper you print haven’t stained the paper. They sit on top of the paper. If you examine a printed document with a microscope, you will see that this is true. Ink sits on top of the page, rather than merging with it. 3D printing was developed based on this knowledge.
To create an object with a 3D printer, you first design a 3D model of it on the computer. Then, you connect a 3D printer to the PC and select “print.” It’s as easy as that to use a 3D printer for printing objects. The machine creates an object by creating tiny little slices and gluing them together, working from bottom to top. A 3D printer can handle complex layers that result in a finished product complete with working wheels.
What Materials Are Used in 3D Printing?
A lot of materials can be used in 3D printing. Some materials that can be used to 3D print are:
- ABS plastic.
- Stereolithography materials.
- Glass filled polyamide.
- Ice cream.
- Human cells.
The materials you can use in 3D printing are not a finite list. As time goes on, an increasing number of different materials can be used for 3D printing. Currently, plastic is still the most used material, but that could change as the technology evolves. SmarTech Markets Publishing estimates that 3D printing will generate $1.4 billion in plastic sales alone by 2019.
Metal is another widely used material in 3D printing. When you want to print an object with metal in it, the printer uses a direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) technique. You can make prototypes and finished industrial products through DMLS printing. The aviation industry is already making use of DMLS printing to manufacture parts it needs. Some jewelers also use DMLS printers to create jewelry.
What Is 3D Printing Used For?
3D printing is being used to create a wide variety of items, including concept models, prototypes, dolls, jet parts, prosthetic limbs, skin, selfies. Some of the items mentioned may have made you raise your eyebrows. Human skin can really be made with 3D printing. As stated in a previous paragraph, human cells can be used as a material in 3D printing. Various human tissues can also be made through 3D printing. This is useful for those who want to fix scars, disfiguration, or burns. Scientists are trying to create functional organs through 3D printing as well.
Selfies have been taken to the next level with 3D printing. Some people are starting to print figurines of themselves. A few couples have utilized 3D printing to place figurines of themselves on their wedding cakes. You could also create a collection of figurine selfies if you wanted to.
An interesting use of 3D printing being attempted is restoring lost statues from history. A team of experts is working to recreate two Buddhist statues that were destroyed in 2001 by the Taliban. Other items that experts are working toward being able to make with 3D printers include cars, soil, and wheelchair ramps.
What Are the Advantages of 3D Printing?
3D printing decreases how much time it takes to bring a new product to market. Inventors can now create prototypes the same day it was designed thanks to 3D printing. Traditionally, it takes months for companies to create a prototype. Ideas develop faster as a result of 3D printing, which speeds up inventions and innovations. 3D printing can also help save money on inventions. It’s cheaper to 3D print a prototype for verification of a concept than it is to create a traditional prototype.
3D printing has benefits in the medical field too. Prosthetic limbs, skin, and tissue can be manufactured with 3D printers. These items can be used to help amputees, burn victims, and other health issues. As 3D printing technology evolves, there will be even more medical uses for 3D printing. There’s a good chance, we will be able to 3D print working organs for organ transplants.
Additional advantages of 3D printing include increased creativity, faster production time, lower overhead costs, and restoration of unique objects that were broken or lost.
We have only touched the tip of the iceberg on what’s possible with 3D printing. It sounds like science fiction to those who don’t yet know how 3D printing works. But once they seek out the answer to their question “how does 3D printing work?”, it begins to make sense.
It’s also more exciting when you realize all of the possibilities. Have we thoroughly answered your question on how does 3D printing work? Let us know if you have any other questions in the comments below.