By now most people have heard of 3D printers. Anyone who has seen them in action are always impressed by what they are able to do. For others, who may have heard of it, but never seen what it can do, there may be some confusion about it. What are they able to do, how does it work, and other things may seem like a total mystery. Here is an explanation of how it all comes together in the 3D printing world, to help you decide whether it is truly something you want to see or use for yourself.
What Is 3D Printing?
For anyone who is not sure what it is, 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, is a process that allows people to take an image and duplicate it. One example, could be if you have a flower that your child picked for you and you do not want for it to die. You can scan it and put it on the computer as a digital file. This digital file can then become a 3D file and printed out. When it is finished, you will have a 3D image that you do not have to worry about dying.
How Does It Work?
When you think of a printer, you most likely think of flat paper which is loaded from a paper tray and then printed on. The 3D printer is similar, but its abilities are much more impressive. However, to make use of 3D printing, you first need to understand the technique of creating a suitable digital file for it to print.
A 3D printer comes with its own software. The program will add different lighting and other things to the image to make it 3D during the scanning process. This new image is considered to be a CAD (Computer Aided Design) file. This new file type is what will tell the printer what you want to print out and how to make it 3D by separating the image into many different layers.
During the printing process, all of the individual layers of the object will be printed out, one on top of the other. When it is complete, you have a duplicate of the object you printed.
What Can You Create
Until more recent years, the main use of 3D printers was the business world. Architects would use it to create miniature models of houses or other buildings that they were hoping to build. Creators would use it to design prototypes of their inventions. People in the medical and scientific fields could use it as well. However, in the last few years, more and more people have discovered what it can do, and it is now being used by a variety of people to create things. Now, as technology and the world of 3D printing continue to improve, you can make virtually anything you want to. There are people who create figurines of children’s drawings, jewelry, usable household items, miniatures of cars, board games, and much more.
In the world of 3D printing, if you have an item that gets broken, such as your favorite candle holder, you can piece it together, scan it, print it, and have it still be usable by tonight’s dinner. If your child’s favorite toy gets broken or lost, all you need is a picture of it and you can print a new one. If you lose a bolt or a nut that you need for your household repair, print it. It will work as good as the original. In short, with a 3D printer you can create anything as long as you do not mind them being made of ABS plastic, PLA, nylon polyamide, glass filled polyamide, silver, titanium, steel, and a variety of other materials.
How Much Would It Cost You?
With the constantly growing popularity of 3D printing, these machines are now much more affordable for everyone. In many cases, you can purchase a 3D printer for as little as a couple hundred dollars. The cheapest ones may be slower than others and the materials that they use may be limited more to plastic, but it could still be a fun thing to play with.
If you want a higher end model, you could expect to pay as much as a few thousand dollars. These machines are able to print out anything at all. If you are someone who simply wants to try it out, you can skip buying the printer. There are companies on the web that allow you to create your own design and they will print it for you, for a small fee.