Learn more about 3D printing

An introduction to 3D printing

3D printing (or additive manufacturing) refers to the process of making a three dimensional object from a digital file. It is called additive manufacturing because in the 3d printing process, layers of a material are added to one another until the final object is created. The final object is built up of many but thin layers.

Have a look at this video from Mashable that gives an introduction to 3D printing.

3D printing - DemaPlastech - Stratasys agents for South Africa

The Stratasys J750™ 3D Printer printed this sports shoe prototype in a single printing.

3D printing in 3 steps

3d printing has a few steps to follow before you are holding a 3d object in your hand:

  1. First you need a file that tells the 3d printer what you want to print
  2. Then you need to send this file to a 3d printer
  3. Lastly the 3d printer prints the object you asked for

Step 1: Getting a file ready to print in 3D

If you want to print something that already exists in the real world, and is small enough to print, then you can use a 3d scanner to scan the object so you can import it into a 3D modelling program. A 3D scanner makes a 3D digital copy of an object. 3d scanners vary from simple scanners for use at home to industrial scanners that can create very detailed scans of big objects.

If you want to print something new, then you need to design it in a 3D modelling program. Sometimes people scan an existing object using 2 3d scanner and then make changes to it to create something new for printing.

Step 2: Sending the file to a 3d printer

There are many types of printers available today, and range from simple desktop printers for hobbyists all the way through to large industrial printers that can print large objects of a very high quality.

Most printers fall into one of three categories:

  • Desktop
  • Professional
  • Industrial or Manufacturing

Step 3: Printing your 3d file

Although all 3d printers use additive manufacturing (ie. they all add layers of material to build up the 3d object), they might use different technology to do so. These technologies differ in how the layers are built.

3D printing technologies

The two most common types of 3D printing involve either:

  • melting a material to create the individual layers, or
  • hardening a soft resin by heating it with a UV light or laser to create the layers of the 3D print.

In 2010, the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) group “ASTM F42 – Additive Manufacturing”, developed a set of standards that classify the Additive Manufacturing processes into 7 categories:

  1. Vat Photopolymerisation
  2. Material Jetting
  3. Binder Jetting
  4. Material Extrusion
  5. Powder Bed Fusion
  6. Sheet Lamination
  7. Directed Energy Deposition
DemaPlasTech - South African agents for Stratasys 3D printers

Thinking of using 3D printing in your business?

Stratasys is a leading provider of 3D printing solutions that will make your business more efficient, cost-effective and creative. They have a range of professional 3D printers to meet any need. You can visit their website here.

To get a better idea of which 3 D printers in their range could help you, choose a link below:

DemaPlasTech are agents for Stratasys 3D printers in South Africa

Whether you are looking to purchase a new Stratasys 3D printer or need support and maintenance for your existing printer, get in touch and we will see how we can help.

Contact us