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3D Printers


Introduction to 3D Printers

Source Wikipedia – SparkFunElectronics

A 3D printer is a device that manufactures a 3 dimensional objects by building the object up one layer at a time. They usually extrude the printing material from a nozzle, though some 3D printers use a slightly different technique, for instance resin 3D printers which use a laser to set resin.

3D printing materials

A variety of materials can be used in the 3D printing process, including:

  • Plastic
  • Metal
  • Concrete
  • Resin

3Dprinters come in many different shapes and sizes. Examples of things that have been manufactured using 3D printers include:



How they work

How they work

  1. The 3D design is made, either by hand using CAD software or 3D scanned from a physical object
  2. The 3D Design file (e.g. STL) is sent to the printer.
  3. The 3D printer moves the printing nozzle to the correct location on the printing plate.
  4. Plastic filament is heated and extruded through the nozzle and the printer head moves to the next point on that layer
  5. Once the layer is complete the nozzle moves up to the next layer and begins extruding once again

Pros & Cons

Advantages of 3D printing

  • 3D printing is great for single or small batch runs that otherwise be too costly to produce using normal mass production techniques
  • They are smaller than normal manufacturing machinery so they are more portable
  • They are quick to retool from on object to another making
  • Designs need only be emailed to the recipient to allow them to build.

Disadvantages of 3D printing

  • 3D printing is slow – it takes hours to print objects
  • It’s costly when mass producing items
  • 3D printing technology is fairly new so prone to errors and breaking
  • 3D printed objects aren’t always as strong as injection molded items.