3D printing is a pretty interesting form of manufacturing in my opinion. This technology allows for the creation of virtually anything! That sounds a little bit farfetched, but let me elaborate. Before I can do that, let me tell you what 3D printing is. Various forms of manufacturing have been around for centuries; some involved various molds and casting, while most involved removing material, or some kind of machining. 3D printing is very different, as it creates the final product one layer at a time from scratch. There is no block of material that is cut away, and there is far less waste. How does 3D printing actually work?
For the 3D printing process to work, an artist, designer, engineer, or whatever you’d like to call it will have to create a 3D design. This design will work as the blueprint for the final product. Because 3D printing revolves around a CAM system, or a computer aided manufacturing system, the computer has to call on something! The computer in the printer will refer to the blueprint itself when making the print. Typically, each printer offers a software of some kind which will splice up each 3D model being printed. The image will be spliced into very small horizontal layers. 3D printing works by laying down layers of material at a time. There are various ways of laying down layers of material, some of which involve melting down material. Others involve binding powder. Some even involve using ultraviolet lights to “cure” resins. There is definitely a variety of ways to do it, but ultimately 3D printing is a layer by layer process. The computer in the printer will “call” upon each spliced layer, and it will begin laying down the material. These layers can be as small as .12 microns! That’s about a fourth of the diameter of a human hair! The printer will stack layers until the final product is created, and then you will pull the part off the printer!