Three-dimensional printing is an additive manufacturing process that involves the production of tangible objects from an input digital file. The additive manufacturing method involves producing solid elements by adding successive layers of the material until the object is produced. Each of the added layers are usually sheets of the material that takes the shape required by the designer.
3D printing typically begins with the production of a virtual design typically done using computer aided design (CAD). Experts in object design with CAD can perform the initial design on their computer before uploading the print file to the 3D printer. For those who wish to print an existing object, a 3D scanner can be used to make a digital copy of the object before putting it into the 3D modeling program. 3D printers use different types of technologies to make their objects and some of these technologies are described below.
Selective laser sintering (SLS)
SLS technology uses a powerful laser to fuse small particles of the desired materials. Some commonly used materials are plastics, ceramics, glass, and metals. These materials are usually fed to the printer in powder form, after which it fuses them together by scanning the layers generated by the 3D modeled program. After the layer is scanned, the powder bed adds a layer of thickness to the object being produced in order to further progress in production. This process is repeated over and over again until the entire object is completed. An advantage of the SLS method is that excess powders in the production of an item can be recycled and used for another production.
This method is similar to the photopolymerization method where solids are produced from liquids. Stereolithography technology involves the use of a vat of ultraviolet curable liquid photopolymer resin and an ultraviolet laser to build successive layers of the object. In order to produce a layer, the laser beam selects a cross section of the design on the surface of the liquid resin and exposes it to ultraviolet light, thereby hardening and solidifying it, before adding it to the previous layer.
Modeling of merged deposits (FDM)
This technology involves the use of a metal wire or plastic filament usually unwound from a spool and used to deliver the required material to an extrusion nozzle capable of turning the flow on or off. The extrusion nozzle is heated in order to melt the input material and it has the ability to move horizontally or vertically as instructed by it from a computer aided manufacturing (CAM) software package. When the heated material is extruded through the nozzle to form successive layers, it immediately hardens thereby adhering to the previous layer produced.
In conclusion, the 3 technologies mentioned above are the technologies most used nowadays by 3D printer manufacturing companies. All three use different 3D printing software, but can be easily understood and fully exploited over time.
Source by Robert Fogarty