Table of contents:
- What is 3D printing?
- 3D printing technologies
- 3D Printing history
- 3D printing applications
- What is a 3D printer?
- Whats the difference between rapid prototyping machine and a 3D printer?
- What can you make with a 3D printer?
- Who make 3D printers?
- How much cost a 3D printer?
- How to build a 3D printer?
- What are the materials used to print 3D objects?
- What 3D modeling software is suitable for a beginner in 3D design?
- I have no 3D design experience, how long does it take to learn 3D modeling?
- Where can I get 3D models online?
- Where can I find online 3D printing service?
1. What is 3D printing?
3D printing is also known as desktop fabrication or additive manufacturing, it is a prototyping process whereby an real object is created from a 3D design. The digital 3D-model is saved in STL format and then sent to a 3D printer. The 3D printer then print the design layer by layer and form a real object. Read more..
2. 3D printing technologies
Quite a few technologies are capable to do 3D printing. The main differences are how layers are built to create parts.
SLS (selective laser sintering), FDM (fused depostion modeling) & SLA (stereolithograhpy) are the most widely used technologies for 3D printing. Selective laser sintering (SLS) and fused deposition modeling (FDM) use melting or softening material to produce the layers.
This video describe how laser-sintering process melt fine powders, bit by bit, into 3D shapes.
This video shows how FDM works.
The video belows explains the process of Stereolithography (SLA).
Generally, the main considerations are speed, cost of the printed prototype, cost of the 3D printer, choice and cost of materials and colour capabilities.
3. The history of 3D printing
October 5, 2011 - Roland DG Corporation introduced the new iModela iM-01.
Sep, 2011 - Vienna University of Technology, a smaller, lighter and cheaper printing device has now been developed.
This smallest 3D printer weighs 1.5 kilograms, it costs around 1200 Euros.
Aug, 2011 - The world’s first 3D printed aircraft created by Engineers at the University of Southampton.Read more..
4. 3D printing applications
One of the most important applications of 3D printing is in the medical industry. With 3D printing, surgeons can produce mockups of parts of their patient's body which needs to be operated upon.
3D printing make it possible to make a part from scratch in just hours. It allows designers and developers to go from flat screen to exact part.
Nowadays almost everything from aerospace components to toys are getting built with the help of 3D printers. 3D printing is also used for jewelry and art, architecture, fashion design, art, architecture and interior design.
Here are some extraordinary examples of 3D-printing:
- The World's First 3D-Printed Car
- World's first chocolate printer
- World's first 3D printed bikini
5. What is a 3D printer?
3D printer is unlike of the common printers. On a 3D printer the object is printed by three dimension. A 3D model is built up layer by layer. Therefore the whole process is called rapid prototyping, or 3D printing. Read more..
The resolution of the current printers are among the 328 x 328 x 606 DPI (xyz) at 656 x 656 x 800 DPI (xyz) in ultra-HD resolution. The accuracy is 0.025 mm - 0.05 mm per inch. The model size is up to 737 mm x 1257 mm x 1504 mm.
The biggest drawback for the individual home user is still the high cost of 3D printer. Another drawback is that it takes hours or even days to print a 3D model (depending on the complexity and resolution of the model). Besides above, the professional 3D software and 3D model design is also in a high cost range.
Alternatively there are already simplified 3D printers for hobbyist which are much cheaper. And the materials it uses is also less expensive. These 3D printers for home use are not as accurate as commercial 3D printer.
6. Whats the difference between a basic rapid prototyping machine and a 3D printer?
3D printers are the simple version of rapid prototyping machines. It is lower lost and less capable.
Rapid prototyping is a conventional method that has been used by automotive and aircraft industries for years.
In general 3D printers are compact and smaller than RP machines. They are ideal for use in offices. They use less energy and take less space. They are designed for low volume reproduction of real objects made of nylon or other plastics. That also means 3D printers make smaller parts. Rapid prototyping machines have build chambers at least 10 inches on a side, a 3D printer has less than 8 inches on a side. However a 3D printer is capable of all the functions of rapid prototyping machine such as verifying and validating design, creating prototype, remote sharing of information etc.
Consequently 3D printers are easy to handle and cheap to maintain. You can buy one of those DIY kit in the market and build up yourself. It is cheaper than the professional rapid prototyping, for $1000 or less you can have one 3D printer. While the professional rapid prototyping cost at least $50,000.
3D printers are less accurate than rapid prototyping machines. Because of its simplicity the material choices are also limited.
7. What can you make with a 3D printer?
In 3D printing area, people say "If You Can Draw It, You Can Make It". In the video below shows many items can be made with a 3D printer. However complicated objects can only be made by professional 3D printers, they are not yet affortable for common family.
Industrial 3D printer manufacturers:
Home 3D printers manufacturers:
9. How much cost a 3D printer?
Here are list of DIY 3D printer price comparison and list of fully assembled or commercial 3D printers price comparison (less than $25,000).
10. How to build a 3D printer?
The MakerGear Mosaic 3D Printer
How to build a reprap 3D printer - RepRapOneDarwin (1st generation)
How to build a reprap 3D printer - Huxley (mini-reprap, portable)
How to build a reprap 3D printer - Mendel (RepRap Version II)
How to build a reprap 3D printer - Prusa (easy to asembly)
11. What are the materials used to print 3D objects?
Many different materials can be used for 3D printing, such as ABS plastic, PLA, polyamide (nylon), glass filled polyamide, stereolithography materials (epoxy resins), silver, titanium, steel, wax, photopolymers and polycarbonate.
12. What 3D modeling software is suitable for a beginner in 3D design?
If you’re just getting started you can try some of 3D modeling software which can be downloaded for free.
- Google SketchUp - This Google SketchUp is fun and free, and is known for being easy to use. To build models in SketchUp, you draw edges and faces using a few simple tools that you can learn in a short time. With with Push/Pull tool you can extrude any flat surface into a 3D form. Furthermore, it works together with Google Earth, that you can import a scaled aerial photograph directly from Google Earth, or use SketchUp to build models which can be seen in Google Earth.
- 3Dtin - The simplest 3D software. You can draw directly from your browser.
- Blender - Blender is the free open source 3D content creation suite, available for all major operating systems under the GNU General Public License. Blender was developed as an in-house application by the Dutch animation studio NeoGeo and Not a Number Technologies (NaN). It is a powerful program contains features that are characteristic of high-end 3D software.
- OpenSCAD - OpenSCAD is a software for creating solid 3D CAD objects. It is free software and available for Linux/UNIX, MS Windows and Mac OS X. it does not focus on the artistic aspects of 3D modelling but instead on the CAD aspects.
- Tinkercad - Tinkercad is a new and faster way of creating designs for your 3D printer. With only three basic tools you can create a wide range of useful things. Once your project is ready simply download the STL file and start your 3D print.
Check out the more software in the free software list.
Commercial software such as CAD software AutoCAD and Pro Engineer, software packages Rhino, Maya, and SolidWorks are all pretty good for designing 3D models.
13. I have no 3D design experience, how long does it take to learn 3D modeling?
You can learn how to 3D model by learning how to use 3D modeling tools such as Rhino, Blender or SketchUp. It will take you some weeks to be familiar with 3D modeling tools such as SketchUp, Rhino and Blender. To become a professional user will take you at least half a year to study and practice.
14. Where can I get 3D models online?
Here are some website with 3D models database:
15. Where can I find online 3D printing service?
Companies like Shapeways, i.Materialise, Sculpteo and Ponoko provides online 3D printing service. More to find here: List of 3D printing service
Bonitum wrote at 5/23/2013 10:50:11 AM:
Wonderful write-up. Thank you 3Ders team!
Carlos wrote at 5/22/2013 11:56:02 PM:
coolkid wrote at 5/13/2013 9:38:26 AM:
Maggie L. wrote at 5/12/2013 9:31:17 PM:
reallly coool info.
surendranath wrote at 5/12/2013 5:19:27 AM:
Hello sir thank you very much for good explained about 3d printer
EssiePeaches@aol.com wrote at 5/7/2013 5:16:37 AM:
Great article, well written and highly informative. I can create a 3d model on my computer and I have been considering having some of my 3d models, like statues, lovers, turned into real 3d models by an outside, affordable source. You see the statue, Thinker, I would like to create love statues about 24 inches tall. That is something I'm still thinking about.
21leftcenter wrote at 4/30/2013 9:45:13 PM:
MY HUSBAND LOVES YOUR SITE! :-)
bob wrote at 4/17/2013 2:05:53 AM:
awesome info, i really need to buy one thanks
uli wrote at 4/10/2013 10:07:33 PM:
any online school for 3d design and printing?
~LB wrote at 4/10/2013 7:01:11 PM:
Ruby wrote at 3/21/2013 12:44:04 PM:
How can I order prototypes from you
Sarah C. wrote at 3/15/2013 5:27:34 PM:
Great, clear info! Thanks
Anja wrote at 2/25/2013 6:07:15 PM:
David Snell wrote at 2/25/2013 5:32:42 PM:
#8 needs a little correction due to consolidation in the Industrial space: Objet has merged with Stratasys Z Corp. has merged with 3D Systems
Chirag Patil wrote at 2/20/2013 1:07:24 PM:
Great place to find info!
sayli dethe wrote at 2/14/2013 6:29:14 AM:
Jimmy wrote at 2/11/2013 10:17:40 AM:
Thank you! This technology is pretty incredible. I found some cool 3D printing news articles here: www.about3dprinters.com/3d-printing-news.html
Chris Morris wrote at 2/10/2013 7:33:11 PM:
Great site, and very complete information. Thank you.
Jackson wrote at 2/2/2013 2:50:53 PM:
Durham3d is also a great service. I got a high-quality print from them at an incredibly low price. @Durham3d, email@example.com
R. Weekley wrote at 1/22/2013 9:49:14 PM:
Hand-in-hand with 3D printing is scanning. The pinch point is scanning. How to get a software model that can be converted into a part. There are many scanning means. The easiest is photo scanning - taking a series of photographs at various angles, and combining them to yield a virtual model. Fortunately, there is help. My 3D Scanner is free. http://www.my3dscanner.com/ PhotoModeler is $2500 http://www.photomodeler.com/ ... and everything in-between http://www.scannerkiller.com/welcome.html This means that the only special equipment you really need is a camera.
Dienye A. Atemie wrote at 1/22/2013 6:35:51 AM:
We have been following the exciting developments of the 3D printers and now desire to take a more purposeful step in the investment of this amazing product, additive manufacturing. We'll appreciate if you provide us with all the contact details of the manufacturers of the 3D printers. We intend to partner with them to create enormous markets beyond the shores of US. We might as special cases agree to have us as their committed representative even outside the US. Thank you as we look forward to hearing from you.
Mitch Bupp wrote at 1/15/2013 5:12:50 PM:
Thank You, This the future of manufacturing production. I hope that I am not too late to get in on the ground floor of the technology. Thank You Ann Marie, I will check it out. I am trying to find out where the best place is to get an education on this.
Siwek wrote at 1/11/2013 2:02:02 PM:
I never see any discussion of the SURFACE texture, options or post processing. What are surface treatments and how do they effect the accuracy?
d wrote at 12/9/2012 1:29:05 PM:
Wonderful write-up. Thank you 3Ders team!
Kevin wrote at 11/20/2012 9:57:59 AM:
Revolvon offer a 3d print service at very competitive rates. Just send a stl file through via the web site and receive a price back within a few hours. Typical delivery for finished parts is 2-3 days. For technical discussions call in and ask for sales. www.revolvon.com
Carla Ehrenreich wrote at 9/15/2012 8:18:22 PM:
Thanks for bringing this information all together like this.
mirza aslam wrote at 8/28/2012 3:18:28 AM:
Leon wrote at 8/16/2012 11:00:50 AM:
Great website. Thanks for making 3D printing seem so accessible.
Dcell_1t wrote at 8/13/2012 8:23:43 PM:
thanks, it will help me for my project!!!
Anja wrote at 4/19/2012 11:37:56 PM:
Cube is announced to be the first home 3D printer. But no one has one yet, so also no review available. All the existing 3D printer are for sure not easy for beginners.
Dee. B wrote at 4/19/2012 8:17:30 PM:
Who presently makes the easiest 3D printer for home use? Does HP have one on the market yet? Thanks for reply.
Ann Marie Shillito wrote at 2/18/2012 12:50:04 AM:
Please add Cloud9, a 3D modelling package http://anarkik3d.co.uk/ which is very quick and easy to learn and to get into being creative - bit like a pencil: easy to use straight away with scope for skilled mastery with practice. It is easy to learn to use because it exploits a haptic (3D virtual touch) device which replaces the standard mouse to give movement in 3 dimensions and force feedback for sense of touch, tapping our natural ways of interacting in the real world!
Richard wrote at 2/16/2012 7:49:58 PM:
THANK YOU FOR THIS BEAUTIFUL INFORMATION!