3D Printing’s Amazing Applications and Benefits

Rationale for the 3D Printing Success

3D printing has made great inroads across all types of fields, proving its use in a variety of applications. You can actually print most things with 3D printing, from simple home items to the much more complex industrial parts, even whole houses.

Here are some of the most important and very popular fields where 3D printing has been used.

  • Manufacturing – in industrial plants, aircraft and aerospace, automotive
  • Medicine and healthcare, including in the dental field
  • Building and engineering
  • Education/Learning institutions
  • Architecture
  • Military
  • Fashion, clothing, including jewelries and accessories
  • Music and art
  • Sports
  • Movies and film-making
  • Foods, etc.

What are the benefits of using 3D printing technology?

3D printing offers a myriad of benefits, especially when compared to traditional manufacturing processes. One of its desirable attributes is faster production. Compared to its conventional counterpart, results are attained in a matter of minutes to hours, versus days and weeks. It is also cost-effective. It saves money by way of raw materials, zero to minimal material wastage, decreased production time, and less man-hours and labor.

High quality of products is another benefit.

3D printing allows for consistency, precision, and accuracy of the final model. The technology is also easily accessible. Open-source software packages and affordable printers and devices, including printing materials, are easy to find and access. Also, product designs are limitless for 3D printing. Lastly, 3D printing is great for creating prototypes – models can be re-designed, tested, and fine-tuned when needed.

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Understanding How 3D Printing Works

Your Step-by-Step Guide

The 3D printing process is an amazing technology we know involves adding layer upon layer of material to create a three-dimensional object. But it involves several steps from design to finished product.

3D Model

The first step is to have a 3D model or otherwise called 3D modeling. A graphic image of the object to be printed has to be created using 3D modeling software. The CAD or the Computer-Aided Design software is used for this purpose and works well for models that are intricate or too detailed. This blueprint is three-dimensional and is stored in the computer program that allows the product to be customized, or even re-designed if necessary, to the smallest detail.

The next step is slicing the model. When a design has been finalized, you can now digitally slice your model using a slicer software. It breaks down the design in multiple layers, even thousands of layers, creating a code for each. The software also handles the “fill” of the design by making a mesh structure for added stability. It also helps to add in supportive columns where necessary to bridge the gaps for the printer. The columns are later removed for a smooth final product.

After the slicing program is done, the information is relayed to the printer for the final phase of 3D printing.

Set up the printer and choose the quality of the print and the correct material settings. Upload the sliced file to the printer with a USB drive, SD card, or an OctoPrint program. Your printer will now begin the process of printing one layer after the other, from the bottom to the top. It repeatedly prints over the same region in a process known as Fused Deposition Modeling. Your printer uses molten plastic or powder, not ink. It is continuously deposited and fused with ultraviolet light or adhesive. Once exposed to air, it solidifies. You now have your 3D printed product.

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Learn More How 3D Printing Works

If you have a great idea for 3D printing or you’d like us to design one for you, come see your 3D printing company, 3D Composites, and let’s turn your idea into reality.

3D Printing

Different Types of 3D Printing Technologies

Types of 3D Printing Technology

3D printing technology comes in different types. From the most common fused deposition modeling (FDM), there are others – stereolithography, selective laser sintering (SLS), digital light processing, and more. These processes all utilize additive manufacturing differing in several considerations – print quality and print speed, printer capability and printer cost, practicality, and user expectations.

Fused Deposition Modeling

The most common type of 3D printing today is the fused deposition modeling (FDM) type. 3D printers that run on FDM Technology build parts layer-by-layer from the bottom up by heating and extruding thermoplastic filaments. As FDM can print very intricate objects, it’s commonly used by engineers to test parts for fit and form. FDM is also used to produce end-use parts, especially small, detailed parts and specialized manufacturing tools.

Stereolithography

Another 3D printing application is stereolithography (SLA), which uses photochemical processes, involving fast prototyping. Accuracy and precision are very important. It can produce objects from 3D CAD data (computer-generated) files in just a few hours. Printers that use this technology produce unique models, patterns, prototypes, and various production parts by converting liquid photopolymers into solid 3D objects.

Selective Laser Sintering

Selective laser sintering (SLS) melts nylon powders into a durable solid plastic. The technique uses high power CO2 lasers to fuse particles together. The laser sinters powdered metal materials (others are white nylon powder, ceramics, glass). The finish is not smooth but very functional; useful for prototype designs with hinges and “snap-fits.” It’s perfect for fully-functional, end-use parts and prototypes that are durable and highly precise.

Digital Light Processing

Digital light processing (DLP) is the oldest of the 3D printing technologies. It hardens polymers using a light projector, rather than a UV laser. Yet, it allows an entire layer of an object built at once, increasing print speed. It is robust and produces high resolution models every time. It’s also economical, using cheaper materials for complex and detailed objects. It also reduces waste, and keeps printing costs low.

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Learning More About 3D Printing

There are other types of 3D printing processes. If you want to learn more, please feel free to contact us or browse around our website.

[Part Two] Towards High Resolution Color in 3D Printing in Minutes

New Algorithm Makes Faster 3D Printing

The so-called ‘Monte Carlo’ (MC) simulation is a conventional model that can predict the direction of UV light travel. While it is often effective, it can take multiple hours to complete. Even very small objects or parts that use a high-end system take time to produce, creating a bottleneck that prevents the scalable production of complex colored parts.

The Charles University’s Computer Graphics Group (CGG) research team adopted a different approach, one that is data-driven. They used a deep neural network resulting in a less number of samples but with higher result variance. It took 30 hours to produce the object, but it is still much less than the 3,000 hours via the conventional MC simulation.

The new algorithm also generalizes better than existing programs between basic shapes and complex geometries. It is ideal for conducting wider 3D print preparation. During testing on a single-GPU workstation, the software ran twice as fast eliminating the conventional need for computer clusters to be assembled.

The Charles University project turned up specimens that have similar level of quality to conventionally 3D-printed objects but had seemingly crisper colors, though performed less well when objects had thin walls. However, the whole process with the revised algorithm proved to be 300 times faster when compared to existing material jetting printing.

The team believes that with this advantage, the new algorithm is robust and can be the solution to the limitations of conventional material jetting modes that affect sharpness and accuracy of any resulting parts. Despite the limited generality of any data-driven model, the approach generalizes well to unseen geometry and material values.

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Making Ideas Real Using 3D Printing

When you are looking to 3D print some great idea in color, contact 3D Composites or browse around our website for material and color options.

Towards High Resolution Color in 3D Printing in Minutes

The Problem with Color 3D Printing

Currently, many material jetting 3D printers can produce parts with complex color variations used to make surgical models and artefacts that are highly-detailed. The problem is that it can cause optical scattering, which affects the sharpness and accuracy of any resulting parts. This is undesirable.

Conventional material jetting systems use UV light to precisely cure different mixtures of translucent base-colored resins, resulting in a broad palette of colors. When three dimensional color bleeding occurs, it also affects colors on the opposite sides of the objects, making it a significant obstacle to precise production at scale.

High Fidelity Color 3D Printing

Now researchers from Charles University’s Computer Graphics Group (CGG) have developed a machine learning-based technique that could help unlock the potential of high fidelity color 3D printing. They continually stimulate the printing process to come up with an algorithm to find the optimal parameters for limiting color bleeding, thereby improving part accuracy. It proved to be very efficient, too. It requires only one GPU, hence, 300 times faster than other AI methods. It reduces print preparation times from tens of hours to just a couple of minutes.

The Charles University team has been working on this project since 2017, optimizing the sharpness and contrast of parts. Based on millions of test runs, they now have an improved algorithm, capable of more accurately predicting how a given surface is influenced by the materials around it, expediting the entire process
The team used an alternative light scattering model which will be discussed on the next blog.

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3D Printing In Color

Your 3D printing company, 3D Composites, can turn your images into solid realities, in color. Contact us with your great ideas.