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What is 3-D Printing, Anyways?
December 18, 2014
There are probably several answers to the question in the title of this posting, and very likely, all could be equally valid. Different people define it different ways, but according to the website, 3-DPrintingForBeginners.com, they define it as “‘ a process for making a three dimensional physical object from a digital file by using a device that adds successive layers of material until the entire object is complete’”. In other words, you can use a design to build up an object layer by layer using these specialized printers, which is also referred to as an additive process.
Most of the emphasis talked about today is with consumer-level 3-D printers. Over the last few years, more and more models have come onto the market and people other than techies have begun to harness the technology for their benefit. While many of the models available today would be considered somewhat pricey, the cost has dropped quite drastically. For the average consumer-level 3-D printer, the material used to create objects is going to be some form of thermoplastic, which are “ plastics (polymers) that become pliable, moldable or liquid above a specific temperature and return to a solid state when cooling down.”
The technique used by the majority of these 3-D printers is commonly referred to as fused deposition modeling, or FDM (and a.k.a. fused filament fabrication or FFF). In this process, the thermoplastic filament is extruded from a heated print head onto the build platform and layer by layer the object is formed. The size of the object you print is tied to the build space or printing area, which is also something to be aware of. As an example, take a look at this video below (link provided by 3-D Printing):