3D Printing: The Basics
What is 3D Printing? 3D printing is also referred to as additive manufacturing (AM). It involves different processes that are used for synthesizing three-dimensional objects. Essentially, it is a process that involves using digital 3D models and transforming the digital files into physical objects. The additive process involves creating an object by laying a series of successive layers of matter until the whole object has been created.
Chuck Hull invented this process in the mid 1980’s and it has several applications in the aerospace industry, manufacturing, and medicine. At Halo Technologies, we’ve taken Chuck Hull’s visions and made our services available for everyday needs.
What is 3D Printing?
Broadly speaking, 3D printing is the process of creating solid three-dimensional objects from digital files. The object is created successfully through additive processes. In the process, depositing consecutive layers of a substance using a 3D printer creates the objects. Each successive layer of the substance or material is visible as a thin sliced horizontal cross-section of the entire item.
How Does 3D Printing Work?
The process of creating objects through 3D printing begins with creating the virtual design of the item that needs to be created. The virtual design is created in a computer aided design (CAD) file through a three-dimension modeling application (when creating a completely new item) or using a 3D scanner to copy an already existing item. A 3D scanner creates a three dimensional digital copy of an item or object.
3d scanners employ a variety of technologies to come up with a 3D model. Some of the most commonly used technologies for generating three dimensional models include, time-of-flight, modulated or structured light, and volumetric scanning. In more recent times, many technology companies have developed hardware that is capable of performing 3D scanning, and the process of digitizing real items or objects into three dimensional models is set to become a lot easier with more technological advancement.
Technologies and Processes
As of 2010, the American Society developed a set of standards that categorize the additive manufacturing process for Testing and Materials. The standards are divided into seven categories based on the Standard Terminology for Additive Manufacturing Technologies.
These processes include:
- Vat Photo-polymerization
- Material Jetting
- Binder Jetting
- Material Extrusion
- Powder Bed Fusion
- Sheet Lamination
- Direct Energy Deposition.
3D printers use different technologies, and while there are several ways to print, all the methods are additive. The only difference lies in the means through which layers are developed to create the eventual object.
Some techniques use softening or melting material to create the layers. The most common methods or technologies that use these two ways are fused deposition modeling and selective laser sintering (SLS).
The other technique for printing involves curing a photo-reactive resin using UV laser or an alternative similar source of power for each successive layer. Stereolithography (SLA) is the most common technology that uses this technique.
Uses of 3D Printing
3D printing has come to find a number of different uses in a wide range of fields and applications. The process has found meaningful uses in medicine where three-dimensional printed models of body organs or bone structures are used by surgeons to present a more detailed view of the matters at hand. 3D printing has also found other uses in aerospace engineering, marine (which you can find our prototyping in manufacturing, and in art and education.