What’s involved in the 3D printing process? A lot more than you might think! Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at everything that goes into making a 3D printed object. If you’re considering 3D printing for your business or product development, this is a must-read.
What is 3D Printing Process?
3D printing is defined as a type of product manufacturing that creates a three-dimensional object from a computer-aided design (CAD) model. The object is built up layer by layer from sliced cross-sections of the CAD model. 3D printing is also known as additive manufacturing or direct digital manufacturing and commonly used for rapid prototyping.
The 3D printing process here is used to mean all the steps that go into making a 3D printed, 3-dimensional, from the initial design to the finished product. It’s important to understand all the steps involved so you can be sure your project is successful.
The 3D process also includes all the steps that happen before and after printing. This can include designing the object in 3D software, preparing the file for printing, and post-processing the printed object. Below is the 3D printing process explained.
3D Printing Process Steps
The steps when 3D-printing applies to the different types of the technology or 3D printing techniques. Each step represents a different task that needs to be completed before moving on to the next. Here, now is the 3D printing process in detail.
The first steps of 3D printing process involve creating a 3D model of the object you want to print. This can be done in any number of 3D modeling programs or 3D printing software. The model must be designed with 3D printing in mind, taking into account factors like wall thickness and overhangs.
Different software programs will offer different tools and functionality for designing 3D models. Some programs are better suited for beginners while others are more powerful and complex. It’s important to choose the right software for your needs.
A business may also, depending on size and needs, contract a third party to design the 3D models for 3D printing. Once the model is complete, it must be saved in a format that can be read by the 3D printer.
After the 3D printing design process, the next step is to “slice” the 3D model into thin layers. This is done with slicing software, which takes the 3D model and creates a sliced cross-section of it. The slicing software also generates instructions for the 3D printer about how to build up the object layer by layer.
There are a few different slicing algorithms, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. The type of slicing algorithm you use will depend on the object you’re printing, the printer you’re using, and your personal preferences.
3D Printer Setup
The next step in the 3D printing manufacturing process is to set up the 3D printer. This involves loading the filament and ensuring that the build platform is level. The specific settings for the printer must be configured, such as the layer height and infill percentage.
Just like with software, different types of 3D printing techniques will require different types of filament. The most common filaments are ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) en PLA (polylactic acid).
The specific settings for the printer must be configured before printing can begin. These settings will be specific to the type of printer being used as well as the filament and build platform.
Once the printer is set up and the file is prepared, the actual printing can begin. This is typically the longest step in the entire 3D printing procedure, taking anywhere from a few hours to several days depending on the size and complexity of the object being printed.
During printing, the 3D printer will extrude molten filament or other material layer by layer to build up the object. The specific details of how this is done will vary depending on the type of 3D printing material being used.
For example, FDM printers work by extruding melted plastic filament through a nozzle. The filament is deposited in layers, building up the object from the bottom up.
SLA printers work by curing photopolymer resin with an ultraviolet (UV) laser. The UV light draws the desired shape of each layer, which hardens and solidifies the resin.
3D Printing Post-Process
After the object is printed, it will need to be post-processed. 3D printing post process can involve removing support material, sanding down rough edges, and painting or finishing the surface. The type of post-processing will depend on the type of 3D printing technology used as well as the material being printed.
If the object is being printed in ABS plastic, for example, it may need to be placed in an enclosed chamber with acetone vapor to smooth out the surface. If the object is being printed in SLA resin, it may need to be washed in isopropyl alcohol to remove any uncured residue.
3D-printed objects can also be finished with paint, lacquer, or other materials to give them a more polished look. Once the necessary finishing is completed, object is now ready to be used or displayed.
How long do 3D Printing Prints Take?
3D printing prints can take anywhere from a few hours to several days depending on the size and complexity of the object being printed.
The specific time will depend on the type of 3D printing techniques being used as well as the settings configured for the printer. For example, FDM printers typically print slower than SLA printers.
The size of the object being printed will also affect the printing time. Smaller objects can be printed faster than larger objects.
It’s also important to consider the complexity of the object being printed. Objects with intricate designs or lots of small details will take longer to print than simpler objects, even when using the fastest 3D printing process.
Finally, the settings configured for the printer can also affect the printing time. For example, increasing the layer height will decrease the printing time, but it will also result in a lower-quality print.
3D Printing Process in Rapid Prototyping
With many businesses today opting for reduced lead times, it’s a common practice for manufacturers to use the 3D printing process in rapid prototyping. Rapid prototyping is the process of creating a prototype of a product or object in a very short amount of time.
This is typically done using 3D printing technology, which allows businesses to quickly and easily create prototypes without the need for expensive tooling or long lead times.
Rapid prototyping is an important part of the product development process because it allows businesses to test and iterate on design ideas quickly and cheaply.
Using the 3D printing prototyping process also a valuable marketing tool, allowing businesses to create prototypes of products and get them into the hands of potential customers for feedback.
The 3D printing process, when compared to traditional manufacturing methods, is relatively quick and easy. It’s also a very versatile technology that businesses can use to create prototypes, marketing materials, and even final products. So, whether you’re looking to create a one-of-a-kind object or produce large quantities of the same object, 3D printing can be a helpful technology to achieve your goals.