3D Printing (Process)

3D printing is a process that is used to builds a three-dimensional object from a computer-aided design (CAD) model, by adding material layer by layer. It is used for rapid prototyping and material wastage is very less since it is an additive manufacturing process. First, to make a blueprint of the object to be printed we design the required model in CAD software or with the use of a 3D scanner and then convert it into a required file (example: standard tessellation language .stl file). This model is then virtually sliced into two-dimensional layers by a slicing software. It is further converted into G-code after which the filament melts through the nozzle and deposits on a build platform and a layer is printed, on top of which many more subsequent layers are printed till we get the actual model. The nozzle of the printer moves along three principal axes, i.e., x, y, z axes so that material can be deposited in layers according to the required shape. The second major step is a material selection which involves choosing a material from a wide variety of materials such as ceramics, plastics, metals, composites etc. Then the final step of this printing process involves the finishing process. Parts with overhanging features need supports to be printed. These should be cleaned by removing the supports after the model is completely printed. Depending on the size of the required object and the type of printer, a print usually takes about 4 to 18 hours to complete. 3D printed parts are rarely ready-to-use out of the machine, most of the 3D printers require post-processing, such as brushing off any remaining powder or washing the printed object to remove water-soluble supports.