If you keep up with your technology, then you will no doubt have heard of 3D printing. This technique allows you to, quite literally, print 3D objects from your computer. On this page, we are going to take a look at how 3D Printing works and why you should know about it.
3D printing begins with the production of a 3D model on the computer. There are a number of different ways in which you can do this. The main method for many people is to produce the model in a 3D image editing program. However, you can also purchase dedicated 3D model scanners, but as you can expect these are going to be on the more expensive side of things. One of the wonderful things is that there are plenty of websites online which allow you to download plans for 3D printing. People have already put the effort into designing the model. You just need to boot it up and print it off.
Before a model can be printed, it needs to be prepared. The computer is not going to print the model in one big go. It is not sophisticated enough for that. Instead, the model will be split down into horizontal layers. There will, quite often, be thousands upon thousands of these layers. You can think of each layer as a different 2D image. The 3D printer will print these 2D images. It will build them on top of one another. This is what creates that 3D effect.
Not all 3D printers will use the same technology. You have to remember that this is still early days in the world of 3D printing, so there are a lot of standards out there. The methods, however, are very much the same. They really only differ in the way in which the final object is built. For example, there are some methods (Selective Laser Sintering) which will melt or soften the material used in the printing process. Other methods will cure the layers one by one using UV lighting. This technology is known as stereolithography, or SLA for short. Both methods, of course, have their pros and cons, but they all result in a fantastic piece of printed material at the end of it.
As 3D printing is a piece of technology, there are likely to be a lot of advances in the technology over the coming years. Recently, producers of 3D printing equipment have put a huge focus on bringing the cost of their machines down. This is something that they have managed to achieve. Of course, 3D printing machines are not going to be anywhere near the same sort of price as a standard printer, but you now purchase many different 3D printers for use at home, and they are FAR cheaper than they were in the past. You can think along the lines of hundreds instead of thousands of dollars here, a price which is only likely to fall as time goes on.