3D printing is an inventive innovation that gives you a chance to make a physical article from an advanced model. It began in the 80’s under the name ‘quick prototyping’ on the grounds that this was the motivation behind the innovation: to model quicker and less expensive. A great deal’s changed from that point forward, and today 3D printers offer astonishing outcomes and let you make anything you can envision.
3D printing alludes to any assembling procedure which additively manufactures or structures 3D parts in layers from CAD information. The innovation is noteworthy in light of the fact that it offers direct assembling, which means a plan goes specifically from you to physical item through a PC and a printer. We should separate it further.
3D printing begins with an advanced record got from PC supported plan (CAD) programming. When a plan is finished, it should then be sent out as a standard decoration language (STL) record, which means the document is converted into triangulated surfaces and vertices. The STL document at that point must be cut into hundreds – now and again thousands – of 2-D layers.
A 3D printer at that point peruses the 2-D layers as structure squares which it layers one on alternate, consequently framing a three dimensional article. All structure records, paying little mind to the 3D printing innovation, are cut into layers before printing. Layer thickness – the extent of every individual layer of the cut structure – is resolved incompletely by innovation, halfway by material, and somewhat by wanted goals and your undertaking course of events; thicker layers likens to quicker forms, more slender layers compare to better goals, less noticeable layer lines and accordingly less concentrated post-preparing work.
In today’s on-demand ecosystem of Netflix and Amazon (and Starbucks online ordering, for that matter), it’s a little hard to appreciate manufacturing before 3D printing. The way we have approached prototyping for the past three decades might even be considered a luxury when compared with prototyping prior to 3D printing. Today, 3D printing an early phase design and re-printing it overnight is feasible and affordable thanks to rapid prototyping or 3D printing platforms like PolyJet and Stereolithography. 3D printing a final product in just one to two days is feasible with multiple 3D printing technologies, such as Laser Sintering, Fused Deposition Modeling and Direct Metal Laser Sintering. However, prior to these quick-turn prototyping and production manufacturing processes, bringing an idea into physicality was an involved and costly process and there often wasn’t room or time to re-prototype frequently or make multiple design adjustments. Let’s look at a fairly common example.
Rewind to 1985: You’re a design engineer bidding on a new product. It’s a dream project; you already have an idea of the design. Where do you start? First, you head to the drafting room (AutoCAD, the earliest computer aided design software (CAD), has only been out two years – too early for your company to have fully adopted it just yet). You develop a design, hand drawing details and carefully measuring out dimensions via ruler and pencil. Once the design is finalized, you meet with your model shop or an outside modeling firm. The shop can machine the model manually – adding in features and details, with painstaking hand labor and fabrication – or the shop can create a prototype tool and cast a plastic or metal part, which will add another 2-4 weeks to your project.
You choose CNC machining. Machine drafters help translate your design into instructions a machinist can use to build the part and your design is manually translated into a lengthy program (known as RS-274 or simply g-code) for the machine to read and execute code line by line. The design undergoes further configurations as you figure out what can and can’t be built given your timeframe and the constraints of the manufacturing process. By now, more than a month has passed and your model is still in early production stages.
Fast forward to 2005. You are offered the chance to bid on a new product. It’s a dream project; you’ve had a rough idea of the design for years. You draft out a rough sketch before moving to 3D CAD, easily plugging in dimensions and executing the design in the 3D software (you’re a CAD modeling pro!). You finalize your design with your project leader, upload your 3D CAD file to Stratasys Direct Manufacturing and select PolyJet prototyping. The next afternoon, you’re showing your physical model to your team. They immediately point out a flaw – hey, nobody’s perfect – and you head back to the 3D drawing board. A few prototypes later and you and your team land on it, the perfect model. You order a new print – this time, you need it to be functional and cosmetically finished. Your trusted 3D printing partner, Stratasys Direct Manufacturing, prints up your part in Fused Deposition Modeling, hand sands it down and ships it back to you all in the span of five business days. It’s only been four weeks since you started prototyping. It only took you roughly one month to get your finalized idea into the bidding room.
That’s the difference 3D printing has made—from weeks to days. From “no, we can’t make that” to “yes, we can build it”. And today, 3D printing isn’t just used for prototypes and models. 3D printing includes:
Manufacturing large entertainment models used in everything from movies to training personnel in new practices
Low volume production and tooling
Medical device solutions
And much more
It’s a matter of knowing which technology is good for what application, and when to use one over the other. But lead time is just one small piece of the 3D printing solutions puzzle. Perhaps the most revolutionary advantage 3D printing offers are its inherent design freedom.