Today 3D-printing is one of the most popular trends. However, not everyone fully understands what it is, how it works and what it means in general for our future. Answers to these and many other questions you may find in the article below .
What’s the history?
The modern “mass” 3D-printing came to us from the RepRap-community, which set the goal to create a machine that could reproduce itself completely. We should note that leaders of the community have not reached the goal until now – in 2008 they reached the 50% level of replication and there are no prospects for further progress yet. But it gave a push to the emergence of many printers with a “self-publishing system.” One of the brightest members of 3D-printing community is a young Czech inventor Joseph Prusa, in honor of whom the most popular model of an open-source 3D-printer – Mendel Prusa – got its name.
How does it work?
There are many ways to print, but we will consider the most affordable for an average user way. 3D-printing came into the world from the industry where it is used for products prototyping. What is a home 3D-printing? This is FDM (fused deposition modeling) technology. First, you create a 3D-computer model using a special 3D- modeling software package. After that, the file of .stl format is loaded into a special program – slicer, which converts the model into a g-code, which in fact is a set of coordinates for the print head movement. The g-code is sent to a 3D- printer. And the printing magic begins – the printer creates a layer-by-layer model.
What materials are used?
Basic materials for 3D printing are of two types of plastic – PLA and ABS. The letters are abbreviations of chemical formulas. PLA is biodegradable and friendly to nature. ABS is a bit worse it is petroleum-based plastics. If to compare these two materials, they are about equal in hardness, but PLA is more sensitive to high temperatures, and ABS is better to cope with such challenges.
Why do we need it?
If we consider a home 3D-printing, it is necessary for the production of plastic things of any shape we like. You can create, for example, models of human body parts for medical students. Architects can print models of their designs. 3D designers can print out a figure for rendering animation for example. Museums and galleries can print thumbnails of sculptures for the blind.
The use is limited only by imagination.
What 3D printer should you buy?
There are millions of options, and to choose from this diversity it is necessary to study quite a lot of info. Let me present to you two of the most well-known and, to some extent the most optimal, models for today.
1) Makerbot Replicator 2
The most hyped and known device with a solid history. The company was bought out by Stratasys, the pioneer in 3D- printing. Prospects of user friendliness are questionable. Although the device has a good reputation. Judging by the forums messages there are often complains that the device is not working as it should. And the technical characteristics of the printer are not the best .
- The price is 2200 USD (official)
- Print Camera dimensions – 28.5 x 15.3 x 15.5 cm
- Printing Speed - 50 mm/ ec
- Maximum print resolution layer – 0.1 mm
- Material – PLA
2) Up Plus
It is one of the most suitable options at an affordable price. The device is uncomplicated, but reliable. It has its own private software with limited functionality. The main disadvantage of the printer is its slow work and not the most impressive volumes of printing. But new entrepreneurs often start with this device.
- Price unit : 1800 USD (official)
- Print camera dimensions – 14,0 x 14,0 x 13,5 cm
- Printing Speed - 40 mm / sec
- Maximum print resolution layer – 0.15 mm
- Plastic – ABS and PLA .
What’s next for 3D Printing?
The development of 3D-printing is fast, primarily due to the openness of products and active community. You can safely download the parts list to many models and try to do them yourself. Professional devices are used in a variety of industries – movies, medicine, aerospace industry , etc. The development and boom of 3D-printing will remain in the next couple of years. And this is the piece of the future that we can touch today.
This post is written by Katerina Merzlova, a marketer from Nasty Creatures, a mobile company providing app development and epublishing services for enterprise and small business clients. To get more information about the team, follow them on Twitter @nasty_creatures. And remember: We’re nasty only to competitors!