What is 3D printing? Simply Explained Technologies and Techniques

3D printing is a technique that allows us to create pieces in 3D, i.e. high, wide and long, any design stored in a computer file created by the user or downloaded from the Internet through a device called 3D printer.

Also a piece can be copied by means of a special device, basically a scanner, and then reproduced in a 3D printer, but this method is unfortunately beyond the reach of the average user, due to its high cost.

Basically, as we mentioned, to print a 3D design requires a 3D printer, which is a printing device similar to a laser or inkjet printer, not in its physical form, but in behavior. This means that to obtain a piece in 3D we will have to load the file with the design in the software, press the command to print and the 3D printer will start working.

The best thing is that to perform this process we will not need a special computer or prepared, since we can use the same PC we use to work every day.

The main difference between the printers that we know as the Inkjet and the laser printers with respect to the 3D printer is that the latter instead of ejecting ink through its nozzles, injects a special molten plastic, which once expelled, will dry immediately, giving rise to the required shape with amazing precision.

For this simplicity, practicality and ease of use, 3D printers are being used more and more in many areas, not only in industry or research, but also in the home, where the user can take advantage of their ability to print 3D parts customized to your own needs.

Also a 3D printer can be extremely useful for hobbies, workshops and technical services and other activities that require having a method like this available, since using a 3D printer could print many spare parts and elements that are no longer in place or that are not directly exist.

As we could see, the field of application of the 3D printers is truly broad, and it only has the limit that our imagination or knowledge impose on it.

Types of 3D printers


3D printing FDM

We mentioned that the material to make the impression varies according to the type of 3D printer that is being treated, being the most used in the world the so-called FDM or “Fused Deposition Printing”, method in which a plastic is melted, generally ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) or PLA (Polyacid lactic acid), and is spread in layers by the extruder nozzles of the printers in a tray where the piece takes shape. This plastic is supplied in the form of filaments in rolls.

3D printing SLA

Another type of 3D printing technology is called SLA or “Stereolithography”, a method in which a beam of ultraviolet light is used that is projected onto a photosensitive resin, which solidifies as it is illuminated by the UV beam.

3D printing SLS

Also widely used, in areas with more important budgets, is the type of 3D printing known as SLS or “Selective Laser Sintering”, whose printing material is ceramic, crystal, nylon or polystyrene powder, which is melted according to as it is reached by the laser beam.

3D Printing by Injection

Finally, we also have available the 3D printing method by injection, which is injected layers of photopolymers that are solidified, by using chemicals, in the tray. This method is similar in operation to inkjet printers, except that instead of ink they inject these liquid polymers.

It should be noted that this printing technology is the only one that allows the printing of 3D parts in full color, and also allows the printing of extra planes or protrusions.

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