In recent years, the 3D printing revolution has grown significantly. Once the domain of companies and engineering labs, 3D printers can now be purchased by consumers for less than $400. However, not all 3D printers are the same. If you don’t have realistic expectations for 3D printing, you’re not going to be satisfied with your results. The following guide explores how 3D printing works.
Most 3D printers work by applying a sequential layer of a plastic or glue substrate in sequential layers. Like an inkjet printer, 3D printers have a print head that moves back and forth to print. However, most 3D printers have a head that moves in two dimensions horizontally. As layers are added to a 3D printed product, the bottom of a 3D printer gradually lowers, allowing additional layers to be printed.
One of the biggest complaints about 3D printers is the object resolution. Unless you have a very fine print head, the edges of a 3D printed object may appear jagged or rough. This is common with most budget 3D printers. However, you can usually use sandpaper to smooth the sharp edges of objects that have been printed.
In addition, it’s important to understand the limitations of printing some objects with a 3D printer. If you have an object that has any element that hangs down, it can’t be printed easily with a 3D printer.
For example, imagine that you have a 3D model of a bat hanging upside down on a tree. You have this model on your computer, and you want to use your 3D printer to create the object in real life. As you start to print the tree, the print head will begin with the bottom trunk of the tree and move upwards. Each layer is added to the layer beneath it. However, the bat in this example does not have any layer beneath it. It has no base on which the print substrate can be put. Because of this, you’ll have to print the bat as a separate object and then manually attach it to the tree.
In addition, it’s important to understand the different types of materials that are available for 3D printers. In most cases, 3D printers use a substrate that is plastic. However, there are a variety of substrates available for 3D printers. Some use powdered metal substrates. In some cases, powdered glass substrates are also available for 3D printing. As 3D printing continues to grow, it will be possible to print more and more objects using any material imaginable.