What is 3D printing?
3D printing is the evolved form of 2D printing. In almost every house, there is a printer which can print images and text. Even though the image or the text shown is in 3D with a 2D printer, the result is a 3D image on a flat sheet of paper. A 3D printer is able to make a real object out of a 3-dimensional image. 3D printers available to consumers primarily print only with plastic, but the more advanced models use other materials, including ceramics, steel, and even sand.
Anyone can buy a 3D printer these days, but many dare not risk to purchase yet. Why? One of the reasons is the huge price tag. But this problem has been solved recently as you can see many budget 3D printers popping into the market now. Another main reason is that most of us are still ignorant about the working and operation of a 3D printer.
3D printing is a relatively unknown technology for many people. This article explains how to use a 3D printer for your home. What do I need to print 3D objects and where I can get these products? How do I make a 3D model and how this may ultimately be printed? Read on to find out.
Step 1: Purchase a 3D printer
This first step is of course quite logical. However, many consumers are wondering where they can purchase a 3D printer and which is the best 3D printer currently in the market?
When buying a 3D printer, you can determine the speed and thickness of the layers you want and whether you go for a printer which can print one color or multiple colors on the same object. You can even choose the type of materials, hard and sturdy ABS plastic or flexible and environmentally friendly PLA plastic or even metals.
Now there arises one doubt. Which type of 3D printer should I buy? Read our 3D printer buying guide to choose the best for your need.
Since most of us buy Filament type 3D printer, I shall continue with the same.
Step 2: Buy filament
Often, the filament will be provided with the 3D printer, but sometimes you may need more filaments or you may want a different color. Luckily it’s not so difficult to purchase filament. In most cases, you can just buy from the company where you bought your printer. Or you can buy online at great discounts.
Step 3: Create a 3D model
If you have experience in designing 3D models, you can design a model using CAD software. However, not everyone has experience with this. Then there are a number of websites where you can download existing 3D models. It is also possible to download 123D Catch app on your smartphone and photos of the object you want to print. The app converts the picture into a 3D model.
Step 4: Print the object
Now it’s time to actually print the object. To do this, first, insert the filament into the 3D printer in the manner described in the manual. Then send the 3D model to the printer using the software. That’s it! Done. The 3D printer will now print the object!
Using a 3D scanner
Do you also have a 3D scanner? In that case, it is not necessary to create a 3D model. If you want to copy an existing object, you can just make a 3D scan of the object you want to copy, then send it to the printer. This works a lot faster than recreating the object as a 3D model.
The 3D printing is actually much easier than it sounds! Since most of us still know very little of the 3D printing technology, we think that 3D printing is a difficult process. As you can see this is not the case, however; it really is as easy as 2D printing.
What can you print with 3D Printers?
The most popular use of 3D printing is the printing of household objects. Because professional 3D printers are capable of printing using various materials, it is now easy to print cups, plates or cutlery. The printing of coffee cups was one of the first applications of 3D printing.
Toys for Kids
3D printing is wonderful for the personalization of toys. You can design the favorite toy for your kids in the colors they like it. This offers great opportunities for you as a parent because the toy can be fully adapted to the needs of your child. No need to get disappointed if a product is sold out or your kid’s favorite action figure just has the wrong facial expression.
One of the first applications of 3D printing was the printing of art. Professional artists use 3D printers to print intricate designs. The possibilities are endless. An artist no longer has to make all the details with delicate instruments.
The details can now be extremely specific and saved on the computer. Subsequently, the 3D printer does the rest of the work. As customers, we can expect more artworks in the market and we can also print our own artworks for the house.
Save the Environment
Plastic wastes can be recycled to use as 3D printing material. Currently, this area is developing, but in the near future, you can melt the household plastic wastes to create objects. This means that less plastic to the environment.
In addition to the above possibilities, the important thing is that 3D printing, in particular, allows for personalization. It is fairly easy to design your own 3D object and then print them. You are no longer bound to the offer in the stores, you can design your art, come up with a design for the dishes, make your own toys and so on.
Keep in mind that designing 3D models takes time and printing is still not cheap, but you will get a fully customized surrounding in return.
Which materials are used for 3D Printing?
Nowadays 3D printers print with many different materials. Silver earrings to iPad cases, chocolate letters to toys are printed on recycled plastic. The list of materials that can be 3D-printed is getting longer. Let’s look at some of them.
ABS is the kind of plastic with which the LEGO blocks are made of. Most home printers use this material which is very easy to get.
PLA is a biodegradable plastic which is based on maize starch.
Unbelievable but true: even gold can be 3D-printed. These cufflinks are produced by the company EOS .
Stainless Steel High Grade
High-grade steel can be used to print 3D objects. i Materialize has an abundant collection of steel objects.
Recently, it was found out that titanium can be used for 3D printing in medical fields. For example Jaw implants.
Even ceramics can now be 3D-printed. The Rocket Espresso Cup can be ordered in Shapeways.
In addition to alloys, titanium, and gold, bronze can also be 3D-printed.
This can be used to build transparent objects like toys and glass.
3D printing of wood has also experimented. See, for example, here this owl, which is made from a combination of gerycled wood and polymer.
This 3D printed car was built using 106 materials. Can you believe that!