For many people, 3D printing seems to be a manufacturing technology that exists in the future world. 3D printing technology has been popularized and widely used today. 3D printing was born in the late 1980s. The world’s first 3D printer was born in 1986. However, due to its high price and immature technology, it was not popularized in the early days. After more than 30 years of development, 3D printing technology has become more skilled, accurate, and the price has been reduced.
At present, 3D printing technology is widely used in manufacturing, medical, education, design, and other industries. For example, Surgeons at the Albany Medical Center in the United States use 3D printing to produce organ models; archaeologists of the Italian Agency for Cultural Heritage Restoration (ISCR) applied the 3D printing technology to make copies of precious cultural relics. Now, it is no longer an unattainable dream for ordinary people to own a 3D printer. Makers around the world can use 3D printing technology to create all kinds of models. It can be said that whether for a company or an individual, 3D printing technology can easily realize their desire to print independently at anytime and anywhere.
How does 3D Printing Work?
3D printing is a new type of manufacturing and processing technology. Visually speaking, ordinary printers print graphics and text on 2D paper with ink, while 3D printers convert raw materials (such as metals, ceramics, plastics, etc.) into thin layers by heating, light, laser, etc. Then, like building a house, the layers are added up to form an entity in the space. Mainstream 3D printing technologies are FFF, SLA, SLM, etc. The FFF is the most common technology, which will be focused on in this article.
FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication) is a 3D printing technology using PLA, ABS and other thermoplastic filaments, which will be heated and extruded by an extrusion head, and then stacked layer by layer under the control of a computer to finally construct a shaped three-dimensional model. It is the most common and widely used 3D printing technology, with higher precision and lower cost.
Choose a Suitable 3D Printer
At present, there are various brands and printers on the market, you can choose the most suitable 3D printer according to your needs. It is a good choice for you to choose a Raise3D Pro2 Series printer that is easy to operate!
The easiest way to understand FFF printing technology is to learn the components of a 3D printer that applies the FFF technology. A 3D printer mainly contains components such as printing bed, extruder, moving parts, touch screen, etc.
Printing bed: The printing bed is the platform for printing models, and usually the print bed is heated to help layers adhere to each other firmly.
Extruder: The extruder is the core component of a 3D printer, which will melt and stretch the filaments to build the model.
Moving parts: The parts of the printer will move on three axes, which are X, Y, and Z-axis. The X-axis and Y-axis are responsible for forwarding and backward movements, and the Z-axis is responsible for vertical movements.
Touch screen: Users can operate the printer and complete various settings by clicking the built-in RaiseTouch on the LED touch screen.
How to 3D Print a Model?
Unlike traditional processes, 3D printing requires very few steps, allowing you to print more easily. Generally speaking, to print a model through 3D printing needs to go through the following four steps: modeling, slicing, printing, and post-processing.
If you want to print a 3D object, you naturally need to obtain a digital model of the object. Modeling will turn the object you want to print into a digital model that can be printed on a 3D printer. You can create 3D models with 3D modeling software (such as CAD software). Of course, you can also download the model files other users create. The STL files are widely used in rapid prototyping, 3D printing, and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM). The ideaMaker Library of Raise3D will also provide you with a platform where you can share and obtain 3D modeling models and settings files.
When you have a designed model, you can use specific slicing software such as ideaMaker to slice the model. The purpose of slicing is to allow the 3D printer to calculate the route and the amount of filament required when printing the model. Just like building a house, you need to calculate the steps to build and the amount of wood needed. ideaMaker will generate a GCode file, which is essentially a long list of instructions, and then the 3D printer will read the GCode instruction to build the model. ideaMaker is a powerful slicing software, which can create personalized configurations according to different printers, filaments, and models, it can also automatically create precise support structures. Therefore, ideaMaker will provide you with more possibilities for creativity.
After slicing is complete, you can upload the slice file to the printer, and calibrate the printer to prepare for printing. The extruders and the printing base need to be calibrated, to improve the accuracy of printing. During the printing process, you can observe the printing process through the transparent panel of a Raise3D Pro2 Series printer, or you can also monitor the printing progress remotely through our APP RaiseCloud in real-time. You will have a more intuitive and deeper understanding of the principles of 3D printing in this way. It will be a wonderful thing to observe the process of filaments accumulate layer by layer and monitor the printing progress!
Post-processing is the final stage of 3D printing. The post-processing of FFF 3D printing has the following steps (not all steps must be completed):
Removing support: After printing, you need to remove the support (if the model contains). Filament will remain on the surface of the model.
Sanding: You can use some sandpapers to make the model smoother.
Coloring: You can color the model according to your preference and add more details.
Polishing: You can use apply a specific coating or other processes to make the model surface smoother and brighter.
Welding / Assembling: When you print a multi-part model or a large model, you can divide it into multiple parts, and then assemble the parts to form a complete model.
Advantages and Development of 3D printing
Although it is a novel manufacturing technology, with its unique additive manufacturing method, 3D printing will surpass the traditional manufacturing process and become a new choice for future production.
Shortening the production cycle: 3D printing greatly shortens the product production cycle. By using a 3D printer, the company can more quickly produce the prototypes of the product and enable customers to make detailed and rapid feedback. The application of 3D printers in prototyping and small-scale production will continue to expand.
Manufacturing complex parts: 3D printing has powerful forming capabilities and will not be restricted by complex curved surfaces and precise structures so that 3D printing can produce very complex parts.
Unlimited design and manufacturing space: 3D printers can print everything as long as you create a 3D model on the computer. Different filaments can be combined to create more possibilities.
In the future, 3D printing will have higher precision and faster speed, and more multi-materials with excellent comprehensive performance will develop. Therefore, 3D printing will be applied in more sophisticated and high-end industries such as aviation, aerospace, military, etc. to create a new industry format.
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