Everything You Need To Know About 3D Printing in 2023

Everything You Need To Know About 3D Printing in 2023

3D printing is, at its most basic, a manufacturing technique in which material is put down, layer by layer, to produce a three-dimensional item. It is classified as an additive process since the item is constructed from the ground up, as opposed to subtractive procedures in which material is cut, drilled, milled, or machined away.

Although 3D printers use a variety of materials (such as plastic or metal) and techniques, they all have the ability to turn digital files containing three-dimensional data into physical objects.

How Does 3D Printing Work

3D printers, like traditional printers, employ a range of technologies. The first 3D printers to hit the market, developed by Stratasys with assistance from IBM in the mid-1990s, utilized FDM (fused deposition modeling), as do most 3D printers aimed at consumers, enthusiasts, and schools today. 

Fused deposition modeling (FDM), also known as fused filament manufacturing, is the most well-known method of 3D printing. It consists of a filament made of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), polylactic acid (PLA), or similar thermoplastic that is melted and placed in layers using a heated extrusion nozzle.

Stereolithography is another 3D printing method. In it, a UV laser is shone into a vat of ultraviolet-sensitive photopolymer, tracing the surface of the item to be produced. The polymer hardens wherever the beam comes into contact with it, and the beam “prints” the item layer by layer according to the instructions in the CAD or CAM file from which it is working. 

A variant of this is a digital light projector (DLP) 3D printing. A liquid polymer is exposed to light from a digital light processing projector in this approach. This hardens the polymer layer by layer until the item is completed, at which point the residual liquid polymer is drained away. 

Multi-jet modeling is a 3D printing technique that sprays a colored, glue-like binder over consecutive layers of powder where the item is to be created, similar to an inkjet printer. This is one of the quickest techniques, as well as one of the few that enables multicolor printing. It is feasible to adapt a conventional inkjet printer so that it can print using materials other than ink. 

A high-powered laser is used in selective laser sintering (SLS) to fuse particles of plastic, metal, ceramic, or glass. The leftover material is recycled at the conclusion of the work. Electron beam melting (EBM) melts metal powder layer by layer using, you guessed it, an electron beam. Titanium is frequently combined with EBM to create medical implants and aviation components. 

3D printers can use a variety of materials, including but not limited to metals (stainless steel, solder, aluminum, and titanium among them), plastics, and polymers (including composites that combine plastic with metal wood or other material). Other 3D printing techniques are also used for ceramics like plaster glass. 

What Can 3D Printing Be Used For

Designers use 3D printers to generate product models and prototypes, but they’re also increasingly being utilized to produce finished goods. Shoe designs, furniture, wax castings for jewelry, tools, tripods, gift and novelty items, and toys are among the products created with 3D printers. 

Architects are using 3D printers to create models of buildings before the construction process begins, and some are even using 3D printing technology to build whole houses. 

3D printing may be used by physicians and medical technicians to create prostheses, hearing aids, artificial teeth, and bone grafts, as well as to recreate models of organs, tumors, and other interior biological structures from CT images in preparation for surgery. 

In addition, 3D printers that can lay down layers of cells to construct artificial organs (such as kidneys and blood arteries) are already in the research and development stage. There is also a use for 3D printing in forensics, such as replicating a gunshot lodged within a victim.

Printed electronics is a group of printing techniques that allow electrical devices or circuits to be printed on flexible materials such as labels, textiles, and cardboard using electronic or optical inks. It enables the manufacturing of low-performance devices at a very cheap cost. Printed electronics is being integrated with 3D printing, enabling the manufacturing of multilayer circuits or devices. As a natural result of this strong combination, you may be able to print out devices from 3D blueprints rather than buying them eventually.

Another use for 3D printers is food preparation. This process involves feeding raw material into a syringe-like container which then extrudes it while the nozzle moves around tracing shapes and forming 2D layers one at a time. The PancakeBot is a 3D printer specifically made for making pancakes in any shape you can dream of. 

Image via PancakeBot

Final Thoughts

3D printers have come a long way since the 1990s, and they continue to progress at an alarming rate. This technology will doubtless continue to develop and evolve throughout the coming decades, and we’re excited to see what it does next!