In the modern era of technology, there is nothing that is impossible. Every day some new technology emerges leaving us in awe.
So let’s talk about something new today, shall we? What we have in our pipeline is “3D Printer”. But what is 3d printer?
A 3D printer is a manufacturing device that creates 3D artifacts to life. Just as printer uses ink to create an image on a plain paper, in the same manner 3D printer lays down material layer to layer to create a three-dimensional object.
This unique printer consists of a huge range of application, allowing you to make whatever you can imagine of! Many manufacturing organizations use 3D printer to make parts for assembling that they weren’t able to make before. You will find 3D printers in different shapes, sizes and designs, but actually they are all controlled through computer based manufacturing.
What possible advantages you may find of 3D printers?
- Rapid prototyping
- Intricate geometries
- Helps to build customized contents
Now that you know enough that what a 3D printer is, let’s learn how to operate one. For your ease, below I have given you step by step guidance that will help you understand operation of 3D printer accordingly.
Step 1- know which one you want to buy:
Firstly, you will need to understand the various types of 3D printers available in market. Materials and methods with which parts are created varies widely, but basically all 3D printers constructs parts by adding layer to layer material, combining each other to make a final object.
Below I have given 2 types of printers depending upon their functionality, your job is to determine which will be most suitable to you.
Fused filament fabrication (FFF):
It is also known as fused deposition modeling. This type of printer builds in successive layers of plastic filament. They usually work slowly. One important fact about is that it can weak points and a jagged texture. But cheap printing materials can cost less than $1,000.
Stereo lithography (SLA):
On the other hand, this machine offers great accuracy as well as flexibility. They shine ultraviolet lasers into a vat of light-activated resin, hardening it into shape layer by layer. If you want intricate designs, SLA achieves a resolution or thickness of 0.05mm, which allows smoother designs. But better the quality, higher would be the price. Whereas, for this it can cost up to $3,000 and up.
Step 2- select a design:
If you don’t know how to work with CAD software, here’s where you will learn how to work with one.
If you have no clue where to start from:
Well honestly, the easiest option is to use someone else’s work. Thingiverse, Yeggi, STL Finder, and GrabCAD are among those sites that provide millions of free digital designs for a variety of objects including ice scrapers, side tables, and even working watches. However, many files allow you to customize a specific design, measurement, weight and resolution.
You can customize it with assistance:
If in case you cannot find existing design file according to your requirement, and additionally you don’t know CAD. Then it’s time that you might need to hire a designer to help you. Costs would be flexible depending upon the complexity of the task and time consumed.
Tip: you can find freelance 3D designers at your local MakerSpace or on sites like Shapeways, PeoplePerHour, or Cad Crowd that list rates, specialties, and services.
You can even try it yourself:
Here’s a good for you, numerous 3D-printing apps lets you to build products of your own without having to know CAD. Apps normally have a narrow focus, such as building smartphone cases or transforming kids’ doodles into 3D figurines, and are fast and easy to use. When you’re done, simply download the design file generated by the app, upload it to the printer, and get printing.
Step 3- choose your preferred material:
Printers can handle variety of materials, it depends upon you which you want to go with.
If you want a strong material:
If you’re using an FFF printer, you’ll want plastic, either ABS or nylon. Both are tough and flexible enough for functional parts like gears and integral hinges. But you can also consider steel or titanium if you are ordering prints from a 3rd party service.
In the other case if you want a material that can withstand heat:
Ceramics would work best as it can handle temperatures of 2,500 Fahrenheit. Using SLS machines, preceramic polymers are printed into a design and then traditionally fired, converting the material into a ceramic.
Object for capturing detail:
If you want flawlessness, resin’s smooth surface and ability to show details, especially when treated with high-powered SLA lasers, make it perfect for prototypes and models.
Object like a real thing:
Plastic filament embedded with wood shavings or chalk produces a final product that resembles wood or concrete-like stone. Sand down the layers’ edges and no one will know a thing. Though 3D printing has not yet replaced carpentry or masonry, but sooner it will.
By concluding, a handy tip: Learning 3D-modeling design can get you messy. For a simple introduction to CAD software, check out Tinkercad, a free site that teaches fundamentals such as placing, adjusting, and combining objects.