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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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.