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3D Printing : What it is & How it Works

3D printing, also referred to as additive manufacturing, has caused a lot of excitement in the manufacturing sector. It has opened up a world of opportunities that were once a simple pipe dream.

As the cost of 3D printers comes down, the likelihood of them becoming mainstream dramatically increases. So what is 3D printing and how exactly does it work?

Understanding 3D printers

3D printers are capable of printing out objects from a digital file. They can create a large number of everyday items.

The machines can use a variety of materials helping to create things such as metal machine parts, ceramic cups and plastic toys. Manufacturers are even working on using the printers to create actual human body parts.

This means traditional manufacturing production lines are being replaced with one single 3D printer.

How it works

In order to print a 3D object, you need to first design it on a PC. Software has been created to assist with the design process such as 3D CAD Design from Solidworks Software. The company has produced three versions of this software including premium, professional and standard. It helps with the drawings, can handle any assembly size and features an intuitive interface.

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The actual printing process includes building the object from the bottom up. The machine creates the object from thousands of tiny strips. These are layered on top of each other to create the solid object. You won’t see any evidence of the layers once the object has been completed.

Depending upon the model you choose, 3D printers can create very complex layers. This is why they are able to create moving parts such as brakes, hinges and wheels.

Providing a lot of work goes into the design process, the printer can print flawless objects. High quality CAD software will be needed to produce the best results.

Opportunities of 3D printing

3D printing opens up a lot of opportunities for both businesses and individuals. Think about objects within the home. If you break something and it needs a replacement part, you often discover it is no longer sold online. With 3D printing you could easily create your own. Not only is this convenient, but it can also save you a lot of money in the process.

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3D printing is a revolutionary technology that is set to become more advanced as time goes on. While it may not be mainstream just yet, it is only a matter of time before homes and smaller businesses can experience the benefits for themselves.