information About 3D Printing - Overview

 3D Printing

What is 3D Printing?

3D printing is a type of digital manufacturing.

It is an additive manufacturing technique, whereby material is added to form the required shape, as opposed to removing material form a block for example, to form the finished shape.

The process produces the three-dimensional finished result, from a 3D CAD model. Computer software then transfers what is seen from the CAD, into the finished product. This requires specialist equipment that deposits a highly accurate placement of very small amounts of melted plastic, or even metal material, that slowly forms and joins together, layer by layer, to create the required shape.

Development Tool

It was first set up to produce models of industrial products, castings gears, mouldings etc. The tooling costs for production items of these types of components is extremely high. Therefore being able to produce a comparatively low cost, yet highly detailed model for evaluation, before investing in high tool costs was highly desirable. 

Production Use

The production process can take a long time and as mentioned above, was not seen initially as a viable cost effective production option. This however is now changing, as 3D equipment technology improves and the costs decrease.  

Currently, plastic materials are the most commonly used medium for 3D printing. Things like Wood, Paper, Rocks, cloth, textiles etc cannot be utilised, as they have unsuitable thermal characteristics, i.e. melting points, for the required process.

Applications

3D printing is used for various applications and products, including household fittings for handles, doors and windows, furniture, precision tools, tools, gifts and toys.

Due to the extreme accuracy achievable, the automotive and aviation industries both utilise 3D printing for high performance finished working precision parts.

3D printing can even be used to produce totally lifelike heads and sculptures of people, from digital photographs.

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