3D Printing Guide

Additive Printing is the better name for 3D Printing. The market space for 3D printing is larger than the internet. A massive portion of its popularity is due to the advanced technology that it uses. However, many people are still unaware of the basics of 3D printing and cannot implement it in their business due to a lack of knowledge. So, in this article, we are going to discuss the basics of 3D printing. Additionally, we will also discuss the major steps related to 3D print an object.

1. What is 3D printing?

In simple terms, it is a process where you create a three-dimensional object with the help of a CAD model. It is also known as Additive Printing because it adds multiple layers over one another to perform the printing process. This technology became popular in 1990, while back then, companies used it to make prototypes. Slowly, people began to realize the importance of this process. Now, 3D printing is used to manufacture many sophisticated parts.

2. What is the technology behind 3D printing?

3D printing uses two fundamental concepts: the use of models in their digital form and the creation of new shapes by adding layers. There are different 3D printers and each of them uses different materials and technology. However, the basic concept remains the same. The printer will use a printing material, it will melt it with the help of a heating source.

Then, the molten material will be sent to the extrusion nozzle, where it will be converted into fine strands. These strands are deposited on the path defined by the digital CAD model on the computer. Printers repeat these processes of strand deposition until the product takes the final form.

3. Things that a 3D Printer can make

A 3D printer is capable of making almost anything as long as a digital model of the object is available. It is faster than most production units and no technology can compete with the production quality of a 3D printer. Additionally, it can make sophisticated parts that are impossible to make with bare hands or any other physical technology.

4. Types of 3D Printers

The two most popular types of 3D printing technologies are:

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Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM)

This is a process that uses a spool of filament to print a product based on a 3D CAD model. The printer heats the filament to a specific temperature and releases it through the nozzle. The nozzle deposits several layers along the path that the machine will determine. This process continues until the product takes the final form. You can check out the FDM 3D Printing Guide produced by our team.

Stereolithography

This is the first type of 3D Printing. It is a very old mechanism so it uses a mirror to get the printing done. The machine reflects the laser with the help of a mirror and directs it to the material to melt it and solidify it on the desired location. You can check out the SLA 3D printing guide produced by our team.

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Digital Light Processing

This is an upgraded version of Stereolithography. It replaces the human placed mirrors and uses a precise driver to increase the accuracy of the printing mechanism

5. Printing Materials

There are various sizes of 3D printers, so it is natural that there will be dozens of different printer materials. However, the two main materials are:

Polylactic Acid (PLA)

It is a biodegradable material as it is made from sugarcane or corn starch. Additionally, it has a sweet smell and firm binding force. This material is flexible and you can easily mould it in almost any shape. Since it heats at a very lower temperature, you can use it for printing at 190 degrees celsius.

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS)

It is the material that is present in the Lego blocks. Since it is made from fossil fuels, it is non-biodegradable. While printing, it gives off an odor that smells like burnt plastic. It is a bit tough as it is made of solid polymers. Thus, you will need more heat to mould it but once moulded, it will stay intact for a very long time. It heats up at 230 degrees Celsius to 260-degree celsius.

6. The Basic Steps in a 3D printer

There are various types of printers that have different materials and processes. However, the basic steps for printing remain the same in all printers. Let us take a look at these steps:

7. Characteristics of 3D printing

Layer Height

This will determine the thickness of the layer. A lower thickness means that you can have more layers and higher quality. For a perfect print, we recommend that the thickness should be 0.15 or 0.2mm.

Shell Thickness

This will determine the outer thickness of the wall. We recommend making them thick so the inner fill isn’t visible from outside. It is good to have at least four wall thicknesses. The thickness of the shell is very critical as it is responsible for holding the inner material.

Retraction

This is an effective process to keep the model neat and clean. Here, the filament is retracted back to the nozzle when the filament is not in use. It is an effective measure to ensure that the filament does not accidentally drop on the product and ruin the structure.

Top and Bottom Thickness

Most of the 3D printed items are hollow from the inside. So, the top and bottom must be thick enough to prevent any issue. Thus, six Wall thickness is the reasonable amount for a solid item.

Fill Density

You can use it to measure the amount of fill that is present inside the item. It is measured in percentages. Usually, this amount is specified by the customer. Additionally, 20 to 30 percent thickness is considered to be a reasonable amount.

Fill Pattern

You can use this specification for items that are semi-hollow. The most common type of patterns is hexagon and honeycomb. This pattern stays inside the structure so there is no need to change the fill pattern that won’t be visible from outside.

Printing speed and temperature

This is a very important point for a good quality print. Faster print speed will always result in low-quality output. So, a slow printing speed will result in high-quality print. Thus, we recommend that you find a middle ground to get a balance between speed and quality. According to research, 40mm/second is the optimum speed to have a perfect balance.

Filament Diameter

The filament is mostly available in two thickness options, 3.00mm and 1.75mm. The 1.75mm variant is more popular as it is easier to heat up. All filaments have some sort of variation. The expensive filaments have fewer variations. Moreover, you have to remember that a filament that has excessive variation might clog your printer nozzle.

Support

Support plays a very important part if you are printing a complex structure. It will help to hold your model in place so that there is no variation in the actual modeling. The most common support structures are:

Fillets: It helps to increase the rigidity of the structure and helps to print more complex models.

Ribs: This is a very effective way to increase the surface area of the printing board and distribute the pressure. Additionally, we recommend that the ribs must be 0.06” thick to ensure that they don’t fall off.

Print Temperature

Temperature is another setting that has a huge impact on your print quality. Moreover, the optimum temperature will vary depending on various reasons. Different materials have different printing temperatures. Additionally, the colour and thickness of the material will also affect the temperature. We recommend that you start with the default temperatures. For instance, the default temperature is 210C for PLA and 230C for ABS.

Adhesion of the Platform

The two types of Adhesion are brims and rafts. We use a raft to solve issues that might arise due to an uneven printing surface. The brim is like a skirt and you can use it to increase the printing area. For example, a large print area will eliminate common 3D printing problems such as warping.

Flow Percentage and Nozzle Size

The flow percentage controls how much plastic the nozzle will release. Every 3D printer has it set to 100 percent by default. 

Nozzle size helps to control the printing quality and print speed. A smaller size will increase the quality but will result in slower prints. Presently, the most common type is 0.3mm. This is because it helps to keep a perfect balance between speed and quality.

Warping

While 3D printing, you will come across many challenges. The most common is warping. Different parts of the model will cool at different times and temperatures. Thus, this variation in temperature will change the form of the model, we call this process warping. Warping is most common in models that are large and flat. Some common solutions are:

  • You can reduce the height of the first layer.
  • Try to use a heated bed for printing.
  • You can add a brim to your model.
  • Warping is most common in models that are large and flat.

Conclusive views on 3D printing

3D printing is one of the most trusted printing mechanisms. Various products are impossible to manufacture with 3D printing. So, we can conclude that 3D printing has a bright future in the industrial sector. For instance, certain markets like aerospace and medical research are completely dependent on 3D printing. This amazing technology helps to create items that were once a dream for the bare hands.

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