How does 3D printing work?

3D printing is taking the world by storm. Today, 3D printers are used to create airplane parts, cars, personal protective equipment, personalized products like toothbrushes, and even entire houses. Incredibly, 3D printing is also used in the medical industry to print things like cells, muscles, ears, and arms. The printing process is also now widely available to entrepreneurs and hobbyists, so anyone can start printing any part or product they need. But how does 3D printing actually work?

The Basics

3D printers use computer-aided design software, which is more commonly known as CAD. The software is used to send instructions to the 3D printer. The machine then prints the desired part or product via an additive manufacturing process. That means it adds one layer at a time to build up the model gradually. The printers work from the ground up and add one layer after another until the desired item is created.

What kinds of items can be created?

The flexibility of what can be printed is almost endless. If you are a hobbyist, you could use a 3D printer to make a phone case, a bicycle handle, or a pair of sunglasses. It is easier than ever before for everyday folk to access 3D printing. A new or used 3D printer does not have to cost the earth, but another option is to outsource your 3D printing needs. Whether you are looking for 3d printing in Austin or Nashville, there will be a local company that can easily and quickly print and deliver your items. Once you have created your design in a CAD file, you can simply upload it online and let a professional company print and deliver the model to your door.

What materials do 3D printers use?

3D printers can use a variety of materials. While most are molten plastic or powders, composites and biomaterials can also be used to create items that range in size, shape, rigidness, and color. Some 3D printers can even print metallic powders and carbon fiber.

The 3 Steps of 3D Printing

Now you have an overview of how 3D printing works, let’s look at the process in more detail. The following stages are the three key steps involved with 3D printing.

Using 3D Modeling Software

The first step is to create your design using 3D modeling software like CAD. The software allows you to customize designs down to the smallest detail. Therefore, you can create designs that are much more intricate and detailed than you could achieve with traditional manufacturing methods.

Slicing the Model

The next stage is to use slicing software to scan each layer of your model design. The information is then processed by the 3D printer so that it knows how to move to recreate the required layers. Slicers also inform the 3D printer of where to fill a model. The fill gives items things like internal lattices and columns.

The 3D Printing Process

Once the modeling and slicing software has been used to design the item you require, the 3D printer can take over. Its nozzle will move back and forth while dispensing your chosen material layer-by-layer. Then, hey presto, you will have your desired 3D item.