What is 3D Printing?

What is 3D Printing?

You’re probably familiar with the conventional LaserJet ink printers used at home and how they work. The 3D printing technology is a bit different; 3D printing is much more tangible and does incredibly useful jobs these days. Objects are created with high precision.

With 3D printers, you can create shoes, bags, key holders, jewelry and advanced objects like aircraft components, automobile parts using a computer controlled printer.

How does 3D printing work?

Technically, 3D printing is also known as Additive Manufacturing (AM) which refers to a process of creating three dimensional objects in a computer controlled environment.

The uniqueness of this technology is that objects created can be of any shape. A computer uses an aided design model or AM file by successively adding material layer by layer and with precision.

To create objects, layers of materials are formed using a digital model data from a 3D model or an electronic data source such as addictive manufacturing files.  While there are different kinds of 3D printing, all still work with the same principle. They generally print 3D objects out of layers.

The 3D printer starts printing from the bottom layer and work its way up. The layering process depends on the material it’s working with – plaster, polymer, resin or metal. Each layering process has to solidify before it moves to the next. This also depends if it’s a commercial or industrial 3D printer.

Classes of 3D printers

There are two classes of 3D printers:

  • Industrial 3D printers
  • Commercial 3D printers

A MakerBot three-dimensional printer

Industrial 3D printers – They have been used on an industrial setting for over 30 years, they are much larger and expensive doing much more extensive work.

Commercial 3D printers – The consumer-oriented 3D printers are cheaper, smaller and usually with lower resolution compared to the industrial printers. Commercial 3D printers are also used for rapid prototyping usually for those that like the idea of getting things printed out.

Commercial printers use thermoplastic extrusion (Prints out tiny dots of melted plastic).

3D printing techniques

Taking into perspective materials, colors, resolution and how much money you’re willing to put on the table, the printing technique to choose from will be determined by what you intend to achieve.

Inkjet Printing – With special inks, it’s possible to build a 3D model with the use of a device that’s similar to the conventional home or office printer. Layer upon layer of binder or resin are added till an object is created. This is the only printing process that allows for custom colors.

Fused Deposition Modeling – This is however the most common 3D printing technique. The raw material for this process is usually plastic or metal wire, which is melted and placed by the printer’s nozzle.

When the first layer hardens, the next process commences and all the way up till the object is full formed. In the commercial printing class, the FDM always uses plastic wire (filament) and is called “thermoplastic deposition” in simple terms.

Selective Laser Sintering – Sintering is the process of creating solid objects from powder that could take the form of metal, plastic, ceramic or glass. The Selective laser Sintering (SLS) uses a pulse laser to draw. The powder fuses and the layer forms the next layer. This technique is prevalent in the industrial setting requiring a strong laser.

Digital Lighting – A vat of liquid polymer is turned into a very strong solid by exposing it to light. A very high resolution can be achieved with this technique. This is also another industrial method of achieving 3D objects.

Let’s consider a sleek 3D printer and see how it works

MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D

The MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer provides Fifth Generation ease of use and connectivity for all your 3D printing needs.

Offering the easiest and most versatile way to get from 3D model to 3D print, the MakerBot Replicator’s large build volume accelerates rapid prototyping and model making.

100-micron layer resolution accelerates the design process by enabling professional-quality, high-resolution prototypes and models to be created right at your desk.

Perfect for educational use. Educates students how to think, imagine, create, craft and print in 3D, while preparing them for the jobs of the future.

Scroll table to the right to see features

Key Features and Benefits   

MakerBot Replicator Smart Extruder+Connectivity and Mobile Control3.5 Inch Full Color DisplayOn-Board Camera
Engineered with improved components for better print performance.Ways to Connect:On-board user interface and intuitive dial create a rich user experience.For print monitoring and easy sharing to MakerBot Thingiverse and social networks.
Experience a seamless workflow from start of a print to completion.-Wi-Fi.Access your object library and see previews of your 3D model files.Accessible through MakerBot Desktop and MakerBot Mobile apps.
Backed by an extensive Quality Assurance (QA) operation and technical support team to ensure your success.-USB stick.On-board utilities help you set up and maintain your printer.Automatically takes reference pictures of final prints and saves them to your cloud storage library.
Based on our testing, it prints for over 700 hours; This number is the equivalent of the following: 7 large spools of MakerBot PLA filament 2,310 meters of filament 1.44 miles of filament.-USB cable.
-Ethernet cable.
-Cloud Connected.
Mobile Control:
-Free and friendly MakerBot Mobile app.
-Remote monitoring from on-board camera feed.
-Receive notifications and alerts from your MakerBot Replicator 3D Printer.

The Marketbot Replicator costs about $1,597.00 as at the time of publication of this article. the printer is frequently bought together with an extruder smart costing about $200

The MarketBot Replicator may be above your budget, however there are less expensive 3D printers that does exceptionally good 3D jobs with precision. You may want to consider 3D printers within the $200 band

The Monoprice Series…

Monoprice Select Mini 3D Printer with Heated Build Plate

Simple & Affordable 3D Printing for Everyone

Too often, getting a 3D printer means getting a box of ill-fitted parts with poorly written and incomplete documentation. That isn’t how Monoprice operates and this 3D printer is a perfect example. This printer not only comes fully assembled, it has already been calibrated at the factory so it’s ready to print out of the box.
All Filament Types

The heated build plate and wide range of extruder temperatures allow this printer to work with any type of filament, from basic filaments, such as ABS and PLA, to more advanced materials, such as conductive PLA, wood and metal composites, or dissolvable PVA.

Compact Desktop Design

Featuring a small footprint and basic, open frame design, this 3D printer is compact enough for any desk.

Quality at a Fair Price

Monoprice’s rugged design and rigid quality control standards deliver high quality products at fair prices. Take a look at some of it’s features:

Monoprice Select Mini 3D Printer with Heated Build Plate, Includes Micro SD Card and Sample PLA Filament - 115365
Binding Electronics
Brand Monoprice
Color White
Item Dimensions 1350
Feature Support for All Filament Types: The heated build plate and wide range of extruder temperatures allow this printer to work with any type of filament, from basic filaments, such as ABS and PLA, to more advanced materials, such as conductive PLA, wood and metal composites, or dissolvable PVA.
Monoprice Quality Assurance/Technical Assistance: Live chat Mon through Fri 6am - 6pm PST | Phone at 877-271-2592 Mon through Fri 6am - 5pm PST.
Compact Desktop Design: Featuring a small footprint and basic, open frame design, this 3D printer is compact enough for any desk.
Ready to Print: Unlike most other low-cost 3D printers, this printer ships fully assembled and has already been calibrated at the factory. We even include sample PLA filament and a MicroSD card with preinstalled models, so you can start printing right out of the box!
Sample Filament diameter- 1.75mm, Filament size spool/sample- about 10ft. One sample print, Filament Color- natural/clear
Heated aluminum build plate nozzle cooling fan for printing all filament types. Complete kit with sample PLA filament, bed scraper, and MicroSD card with preloaded model files. Micro USB and MicroSD card connectivity. PC and Mac compatible. Compatible with Cura, Repetier, and other software
Manufacturer Monoprice
Warranty 1

If you’re considering pricing and portability, the Monoprice Select Mini 3D printer is a reliable option to choose from.

To compare, you may also want to see other cheap 3D printers on Amazon

The future of 3D printing

As technology advances and the need for more objects to be created fast and with precision. The 3D printing orAddictive Manufacturing technique will be here for a long time. 3D printers can be used to create titanium, aircraft parts, human bones, Nano-scale machines and much more.

These printers will be used by engineers, architects, designers, builders; it will be literally used to make everything.  It’s exciting to see the enthusiasm building around 3D printing. The technology is widely being accepted and it’s an indication that high precision printing is rapidly evolving.


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