It is difficult to imagine a modern production process or business processes without three-dimensional technologies. Printing on a 3D printer is used todayin almost all branches of human activity.
Every day, new materials for 3D printing appear and new possibilities of a 3D printer are revealed. But what do we know about this device? What is a 3d printer? Let’s figure it out together.
What is a 3D printer
A 3D printer – is a special device designed to create three-dimensional objects by building up the source material layer by layer, layer by layer, based on a built digital 3D model of this object.
Various plastics, metal, photopolymers, acrylic, nylon, etc. can be used as starting materials. 3D printers are used, as a rule, to create prototypes of products and parts that are difficult to obtain using traditional methods.
How a 3D printer works. The principle of operation of a 3d printer
How does a 3d printer work? Consider the principle of operation of a 3d printer. As a rule, printing on a 3D printer is based on layer-by-layer building up of an object, but these are not all 3D printing methods, there are other types of it.
3D printing methods
Laser sintering of powders. A special powder is fed into the 3D printer using a rotating shaft, then it is evenly distributed on a horizontal surface. The material remaining at the end of printing is removed, but then reapplied when applying the next layer. This method is characterized by high accuracy of the finished model of the product, due to the immobility of the part. The main disadvantage of laser powder sintering is the surface roughness of the finished product, which requires further post-processing.
Stereolithography – is one of the most popular 3D printing methods, based on the action of a laser beam on a photopolymer resin. At the point of contact, the material hardens, after which the next layer of photopolymer is applied. After which the process is repeated. Excess material is removed and then reused.
Powder bonding. The easiest way to print on a 3D printer. Starch cellulose powder and water-based adhesive are applied to the print head. The powder is bound with glue, and this is how the contours of the future model are formed. The existing voids in the material are filled with liquid wax to give the product strength.
Inkjet modeling – with this printing method, modeling and supporting materials are used. As a supporting material, wax is often used, as a modeling one, a whole list of different materials can be used. Most often, these materials are similar in properties to structural thermoplastics. During the printing process, both modeling and supporting material are applied simultaneously, followed by polymerization and mechanical alignment. Inkjet modeling allows you to create both hard and soft products.
Main Features of 3D Printer
You can divide 3d printers into different types based on the following main characteristics:
- cost (the price of a 3D printer can vary between $500 – $1 million);
- printing technology (layer-by-layer building, laser sintering of powders or gluing of powders);
- printing materials (plastics – nylon, PLA, ABS; metal powder, photopolymers, gypsum, acrylic, etc.).
3D printer application
With the help of a modern 3D printer, you can make any thing, from a chess piece to medical prostheses or cars.
Printing on a 3d printer is used today in the following areas:
- the medicine. Creation of dentures, parts for medical equipment, synthesis of individual cells of the human body, creation of an artificial kidney, skin cells, liver, blood vessels and tissues;
- film industry. Decoration elements and scenery creation – cars, antiques, precious stones, jewelry, etc.;
- architecture and construction. Creation of architectural layouts and demonstration layouts for presentation to the customer. Construction of miniatures of famous cultural monuments, in order to restore the original;
- education. Creation of educational and presentation layouts as a visual aid for students;
- prototyping. Production of a prototype of a new product, the production of which is at the launch stage;
- serial and small-scale production: printing of parts, mechanisms, spare parts, instrument cases, etc.;
- iInterior design. Production of elements of interior design, decor. Household items, vases, etc.;
- jewelry art and production of bijouterie.