Fundamental Guide to 3D Printing

Introduction

The aim of this article is to provide you the fundamental concepts of 3D printer, it includes 3D printer principle, the process of 3D working, and related software and resources you will need. 

In this guide, you will learn some general knowledge about 3D printer, Filament type to choose and software to help you understand 3D printing easier. 

PS: This guide will be updated over time with new concept, research, image and videos.

What is 3D printer 

3D printer, it is also known as additive manufacturing or desktop fabrication. It is a process of making 3-dimensional physical objects based on 3D design blueprint. In an additive process, an object is printed by laying down successive layers of material until the object is created. Each layer could be seen as a thinly sliced horizontal cross section of the eventual object. 

3D printing allows you to produce a more complicated or functional shape by consuming less material than traditional manufacture method. It is much more cost effective and reduces lots of industrial waste. 

Application of 3D printing 

Basically, you can print anything you see, even a 3D printer itself. As 3D printing can improve productivity, reduce turnaround times and offer a business the competitive edge, In recent year, 3D printing is performing a crucial role at many industries as the rapid growth and technology improvement of 3D printing. 

Here are some industries that 3D printing can benefit: 

Medical 

The outlook of medical use of 3D printing is evolving at a rapid ace as specialists are beginning to utilize 3D printing in more advanced ways. A number of organs have been created that tradition medical method is not capable, more and more patients are experiencing a higher quality of treatment through 3D printed implants and prosthetics that never seen before. 

Manufacturing 

The traditional manufacture can create models of a product before they are manufactured on a bulk scale. Compared to traditional manufacturing,3D printing could achieve a much faster product development cycle and troubleshooting for product design. 

Aerospace 

With 3D printing technology, it is able to manufacture some complex yet lightweight parts for aircraft and space applications. 

Architecture 

3D printing technology can help this industry for structure verification, reviewing design, reverse-structure engineering, and expedited scaled modeling etc. 

Education 

It can provide an excellent method for geometry visualizations and design initiatives at art schools.

Entertainment 

You can print different types of prototypes of toys, games, cartoon actor, musical equipment, home gadget, and building model etc. 

3D printing limitation 

Although buying a 3D printer is much cheaper than setting up a factory, the cost per item you produce is higher than traditional mass production. It also can’t match the smooth finish of industrial machines, nor offer a variety of materials or range of sizes available through industrial processes. But, like so many household technologies, the prices will come down and 3D printer capabilities will improve over time. 

Types of 3Dprinters 

In general, there are 10 types of 3D printer on the market 

  1. FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling)
  2. SLA (Stereolithography)
  3. DLP (Digital Light Processing)
  4. SLS (Selective Laser Sintering)
  5. MJ (Material Jetting)
  6. DOD (Drop on Demand)
  7. SBJ (Sand Binder Jetting)
  8. MBJ (Metal Binder Jetting)
  9. SLM (Selective Laser Melting)
  10. EBM (Electron Beam Melting) 

If you are a beginner, we highly recommend you to choose FDM, it is more cost effective and easy to use. 

For more information about these 10 types of printer, please click here. 

3D Printing process 

3D printing begin with a CAD 3D design Model, which is then used to send speific instructions to the printer about the amount, location and type of material to use. 

Here is a simple picture of 3D printing process

3d printing process

 

1: We always start out with a 3D CAD Model on computer, then we export model as STL file

2: Import STL file into slicing software, then we can edit the layers the tool path, temperature, and color, print speed etc. The software will make file as G-code for 3D printer use.

3: Insert SD card to your 3D printer and start to print it, make sure to adjust your machine if an unexpected situation occurs. 

Essential Software

Unless you are planning to download ready-made blueprints of a model, You need a variety of essential software that can be applied to 3D printer., without right software, 3D printing would remain a distant dream. 

CAD Software

For a beginner, We recommend you use Google Sketchup or Autodesk Fusion 360, they are easy to learn even you do not have any skill about designing. You can get lots of tutorial from the internet or Youtube. 

Slicing software

There is so many slicing software on market,for beginner to use, we suggest you choose Cura and simplify 3D, this software can be used to most 3D printers. 

Find Model Online

It is not an easy task if you are a new player with 3D printing, we will definitely suggest you download some model from internet first. 

Thingiverse and Myminifactory is a most popular website that people will use.

All you need to do is just find your prefer object and download them directly as STL file, send them to slicing software to edit and print it. 

Essential Hardware 

A thorough knowledge of hardware of 3D printer is essential if you wish to make the most of this exciting new technology. 

You do not have to learn every individual part of a 3D printer prior to use it. However, learning some basic hardware and construction will help you solve the issue if you ever have to troubleshoot a problem. 

Extruders 

Extruder

Extruder is a part that is responsible for pulling and feeding the filament to a hotbed. Normally, there are 2 types of Extruder, Single or Dual. 

Single extruder can only print one type material, generally, it is used to print some simple prototypes with one single color.

Dual extruder can print more than two material type, it allows you to print more color at the same time which is pretty cool.  

Hotbed

The hotbed is the area where the objects are printed, it helps the material stick to them better and ensures they won’t pop off during printing. As for heated print beds, it is important to keep the print bed warm during the whole layering process in order to prevent warping. 

There are 2 common types of heated bed below 

(1) Glass bed

3d glass bed

Glass bed has a nice and smoothy bottom , it is easy to remove the printed prodcut.However, if you scratch it,you need to purchase a new glass bed. 

(2) Painters Tape Bed

Painter Tape Bed

It usually able to stick the print down easier and you can replace the painter tape if some comes off.

Filament types

Filament is “food” of 3D printer, you will get what you feed for your printer.

There are variety of materials available for use in 3D printer, ranging from metals,plastic, wood, ABS etc. 

filament

Here is the list of common filament type:

  • PLA
  • ABS
  • Nylon
  • Carbon Fiber
  • TPU
  • Wood
  • Metal
  • Glow in the dark
  • PVA

Most people choose PLA as print material because it has less toxic and more color option. Compared to PLA, ABS has harder tougher plastic which is also harder to print. Ad wood and glow in the dark come from PLA, if a printer can print PLA, most likely can print wood or glow in the dark. Please always think about what kind of objects you need to print, and what kind of applications they are required to fulfill. 

Maintenance

Like every machine does,a 3D printer also require to maintainence in order to function flawlessly. The following guideline will help you keep your precious printer in the best condition possible. 

  • Oil the Rods
  • Tighten the Nuts and Bolts
  • Test and Adjust Belt Tension
  • Floss the extruder Gear
  • Update Your Firmware
  • Keep Your Software Updated
  • Replace Build Surfaces If Necessary

 Plus things you never do with your machine 

  • Rush to start
  • Forget the hot Nozzle
  • Presume it is calibrated correctly

Conclusion 

Thank you for your time to read our fundamental guide to 3D printing. Now, you should have a better understanding of how 3D printing works, printer accessories and filament types, and how to start to print your favor prototypes. 

If you have any doubt about 3D printing, any inquiry or any information want to update, please leave your comment below or send us an email: info@sovol3d.com, we will respond to you within 24-48 hours.

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