Manufacturing in the last decade and a half has seen many advances. Producing devices, objects or systems are not restricted to huge plants with metallic concerns. With the coming in of additive manufacturing technology, manufacturing has become not only easier but even less time consuming and low cost. Although more heavy duty and costly systems are available for this purpose, the 3D printer has been not only effective but much more low cost than other additive manufacturing systems.
The working of a 3D printer seems very complicated but in reality it is pretty simple. One kind of 3D printer incorporates an ink jet printing system and promotes full color for creating prototypes. The first step is to decide the pattern needed to be printed. This is done using computer aided designing or CAD. The CAD provides the 3D printer with the design cross sectionally. This type of printer operates with materials like plaster, cornstarch and resins which are present in powdered form. How it works is, as the CAD sends cross sections to the printer, it scans the cross section onto the material bed. Layers of this material are deposited and an adhesive from the head of ink jet printer bonds the layers together. In case the strength of the print needs to be made stronger, wax or thermo-set polymer impregnation is used. In a slightly different method, sometimes a printer uses a liquid called photopolymer in order to form the layers. In this type of method, an Ultraviolet lamp is attached to the inkjet printer to dry the photopolymer liquid.
Other printers can even use powder materials like metal, glass and polymer.
There are five main considerations when looking at these type of printers:
1. The speed of the finishing
2. The cost of the system
3. The cost of the object
4. The materials used by the printer
5. The color capabilities of the printer
Although this type of printing was originally developed in 1986, it only entered the commercial scene in the 1990s. As the decade went by, these types of printers became popular because of their low rates and high level of efficiency. They soon began to be used in architectural designing, metal casting and even organ printing and education.
With the advent of these type of printers, prototyping was possible even for small and medium sized businesses. Recently, this technology has found use in industries such as automotive and aerospace, dental and medical and even jewelry and footwear.
A 3D printer has several advantages:
1. It creates a complete model with speed and low cost as it does away with the cost of designing, printing and putting together different parts to make a whole
2. Some printers can combine black and white materials to create grayscales which are used in appliances
3. These printer models enable the creation of a prototype that would duplicate the mechanical properties of the target design.
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