3D Print Learning Series: Concepts
This is an entry in our 3D Print Learning Series, focusing on 3D print concepts.
For other current entries in this series, please search for our tag, “learning series”, here. Search often, as we will be adding more periodically.
3D Printing Concepts
The concept of 3D printing is quite different from conventional manufacturing, which is a subtractive process: material is removed — by cutting, milling, etc. — to reveal the desired object. In 3D printing it’s quite the opposite: you start with nothing and gradually add material to form the final object.
There are several key advantages to do so, mainly that there are virtually no geometric constraints on the shape of the item being printed, as the object is typically created layer by layer. Impossible shapes, like the “ship in a bottle”, are easily created.
Some in industry have leveraged these properties of 3D printing to create radically new components and products of vastly improved efficiency, cost and performance, particularly in the aerospace, medical and automotive areas.
But what are some key learnings about 3D printing? Let’s find out: each headline here is a link to the relevant topic.
Temperature is a critical factor in several of the most popular 3D printing processes, and in particular thermoplastic extrusion. This post explains some of the challenges with incorrect temperatures.
Dual extrusion is a popular method of achieving more than one material (or color) within a single 3D print job. However, there are multiple ways of doing this, and some are clearly better than others.
Measurements of resolution are a bit strange in 3D printing, where often the layer size (Z axis) is specified. However, there are two other dimensions, X and Y, that should also be considered.
When working with desktop 3D printers there is a danger of electrostatic discharge if you are not careful. “ESD” can irreparably damage a 3D printer if it is not properly engineered.
Rafts are a diabolical thing in thermoplastic 3D printing. They can be incredibly frustrating, tedious and disruptive, but at the same time they can save a print from complete failure.
Frequently a new desktop 3D printer may not have appropriate print settings, result in less than optimal quality print, or worse, complete failure. The answer is to “dial in” your 3D printer.
A very common question is “How Big Can I 3D Print”. The answer is thought to be related to the size of the printer’s build chamber, but that’s actually quite wrong.
You’ve obtained a 3D printer. But is that all you need? It turns out you probably should have a number of other accessory tools that will make 3D printing life considerably easier.
When 3D printing with a thermoplastic extrusion device a phenomenon known as “Stringies” can occur, messing up print quality quite terribly. They can be controlled by means of a particular print parameter, “retraction”.
If you have less experience with 3D printing, you’ll no doubt have much grief getting prints to work. But there are several things you absolutely must do before you even attempt 3D printing if you hope to succeed.
Thermoplastic extrusion 3D printers are very sensitive to several factors that can contribute to or cause 3D print failures. Let’s look at them to ensure our print jobs will work properly.
3D prints can be extremely long in duration, particularly when the prints are larger. But there is a relatively easy way to speed up 3D prints, making more efficient use of the equipment.
Some 3D models simply cannot be 3D printed on many 3D print processes without the use of extra “support structures” that help hold the print together until it’s complete. What are they and how do they work?
As described above, temperature is a critical factor in 3D printing. It turns out that heat and cold can expand or shrink many materials, making the precise dimensions of your print wrong.
Thermoplastic extrusion 3D printers employ two basic mechanisms to drive filament to the hot end. Each has advantages and disadvantages that may be applicable in different circumstances.
For other currently entries in this series, please search for our tag, “learning series”, here. Search often, as we will be adding more periodically.