A 3D printer is a device that turns a three-dimensional digital model into a physical object. To do this process, there are a variety of substances are used such as ceramic, plastic or something like wood. Before using the printer, you’ll need to have digital design files of 3D objects that will tell the printer what to make.
You can either create a 3D file using CAD software or you can use the online marketplace from where you can find millions of free design files.
In the 3D printing process, the design goes through a separate “slicing” software where it breaks the object into two-dimensional layers. The CAD software also finds which path should be best for the printer to build layers. Then the printer starts layering slices of material you want to print.
Should you purchase a 3D printer?
This entirely depends on you. If you want to learn 3D printing process in details, I recommend you to buy a 3D printer. But if you want just 3D prints, you can contact your friends who have 3D printers.
In the past few years, printing machines have gotten cheaper and convenient to use but an affordable printer that suits your all requirements isn’t easy to find. To get the best 3D printer for yourself, it’s important to check the quality, price, and reliability.
Types of 3D Printers
There are two types of 3D printers to buy which you can use in your home or in a public space.
Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF)
It is the most commonly used method of consumer 3D printing and also known as fused deposition modeling (FDM). These types of printers build in successive layers of plastic filament. FFF printers work slowly and results may come with weak and jagged textures sometimes. Due to cheap printing materials, these types of machines can cost less than $1,000.
These printers provides great flexibility and accuracy. These machines use ultraviolet lasers and hardening into shape layer by layer. SLA printers offer a higher resolution with smooth and quality designs. But you have to spend more than $3,000 to get these machines.
How does 3D Printing Work?
There are 3 main steps in 3D printing.
Step 1. Choose a Design
This is the first and an important job to get started with 3D printing. If you want to use free digital designs, go for sites like GrabCAD, Yeggi, and Thingiverse where you can find a variety of objects designs.
If you can’t find the desired design online, you can hire a designer to get this job done. Search on freelancing platforms like Upwork, PeoplePerHour or Shapeways that list their price, reviews, and services. But expect to pay $50-$150 per hour based on complexity and time.
However, if you’re technical enough to design products of your own, use AutoCAD and other CAD software. To run these designing software, I recommend using a suitable laptop for CAD and 3D modeling. Once you’re done with the design, simply download the file, upload it to the printer and get printing.
Step 2. Select Your Material
The second step is the actual printing process in which you have to choose material that will best meet the requirements for your project. The variety of material used in the printing process is not limited to two or three. There is a broad list of materials including glass, sand, plastic, ceramic, metal and even food. But it all depends on the object you actually want to build.
Most of these materials also allow plenty of finishing option so that you can achieve the precise design you had in mind. For instance, ceramic is a great 3D printing material which can handle temperatures of 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit and can be used for jet engines etc.
Step 3. Find a Printer
The third process is the finishing process for which you need to have a 3D printer. If you want to buy your own printer but running on a tight budget then don’t worry. There are plenty of options available in the market you can choose based on your budget and requirements. However, 3D printers under $1000 would be better to achieve good results.
If you’re not buying a printer on your own, you can go to a local printing store such as 3D Hubs or Makexyz. There are many public and college libraries also available which offer free access to 3D printers.
3D printing is the fastest growing technology and 3D printing industry continues to develop its hardware as well as the materials to create useful objects. You can easily create 3D objects using a reliable printer or take some help from a friend who knows about 3D printing.
If you find this article helpful or if you’ve any queries about 3D printing, do let me know in the comment section below.