Computer-aided design (CAD) models are converted into three-dimensional parts using additive manufacturing (AM) techniques, which include layering material until a tangible object is produced.
Although 3D printing technologies have been around since the 1980s, recent developments in equipment, materials, and software have opened up 3D printing to a wider range of businesses, allowing an increasing number of firms to use tools that were previously only available to a select few high-tech industries.
Today’s professional, affordable desktop and benchtop 3D printers help organizations in a variety of sectors, including engineering, manufacturing, dentistry, healthcare, education, entertainment, jewelry, and audiology, and they speed up innovation.
How does it work?
A CAD model is used as the basis for all 3D printing procedures and is then transferred to software to prepare the design. The 3D printer may solidify resin or sinter powder to create the part layer by layer, depending on the technology. After the parts have been taken out of the printer, they are post-processed for the particular purpose.
Design – Three-dimensional models, which are built using CAD software or from 3D scan data, are the mathematical representations of any three-dimensional surface used in 3D printing. After that, the design is exported as an STL or OBJ file, which print preparation software can read.
The software that comes with 3D printers allows users to choose print parameters and slice the digital model into layers that correspond to the part’s horizontal cross-sections. Printing options that can be changed include layer height, material, orientation, and support structures (if necessary). Following setup, the program uses a wireless or cable connection to communicate the printer’s instructions.
3D Print – Some 3D printers fuse tiny polymer powder particles at high temperatures to create pieces, while others use lasers to harden liquid resin into plastic. Modern systems automatically refill the material needed for the pieces from cartridges, allowing the majority of 3D printers to run unattended until the print is finished.
Post-Process – The printed pieces may need post-curing to stabilize mechanical properties, manual labor to remove support structures, cleaning with compressed air or a media blaster to remove extra powder, or any combination of these processes, depending on the technology and the material. With the help of accessories, some of these operations can be automated.
For specific applications and the needed finish, 3D printed parts can be utilized immediately or after being post-processed with machining, priming, painting, fastening, or joining. Along with traditional production techniques, 3D printing is frequently used to create positives for investment cast jewelry and dental devices as well as molds for customized parts.