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An overview of 3D printing technologies

Four Different 3D Printers

3D printing has been taking leaps in development, since starting its journey from the early stages of the 1950s to the first properly working prototypes in the 1970s.

That journey hasn’t been all smooth, but for what it’s worth, there are many patented 3D printing technologies that propelled this art to a whole new level. They all use 3D printer software to create the model for printing. Let’s go over those technologies and see how they work. 

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)

FDM printers are widely available on the market. If you are looking for a 3D printer for your home, this is the one to get. FDM printers are built on the principle of material extrusion. This 3D printing technology entails a thermoplastic filament that is fed to a heating nozzle. 

The latter melts the filament and then deposits it onto a platform, according to the model designed on the 3D printing software. The nozzle is supported by a rigid frame that allows the nozzle to move along smoothly and deposit the filament without delays. 

Most popular filaments for FDM printers include ABS, PLA, PET, PVA, wood filament, etc. 

FDM printers are the cheapest out there and can be used as a great learning tool for both adults and children. They are relatively easy to use and produce great results. So it’s the best 3D printer type for educational environments and for home. 

Vat Polymerization

This is a general principle of 3D printing that includes a few technologies: Stereolithography (SLA) printing, Masked Stereolithography (MSLA), and Digital Light Processing (DLP). We’ll discuss their differences in a minute, but first, let’s see what unites them as different branches of the same general principle. 

If FDM Printing melts the filament and deposits it on a platform to build the model layer by layer, the process of Vat polymerization uses photosensitive resin in a vat and a light that selectively cures, or transforms the resin, making it solid. 

Stereolithography (SLA)

As we’ve mentioned already, a Stereolithography 3D printer uses photopolymer resin. SLA printers use a system of mirrors situated on the x and y axes. They reflect the UV laser, which selectively ‘solidifies’, or cures the resin. 

The platform is situated on the surface of the liquid resin and gradually rises, as the model builds up. By the end of the stereolithography process, you will have the platform and the complete model underneath it built up-side-down. 

Masked Stereolithography (MSLA)

The process of MSLA printing uses a LED array to cure the resin. It shines the UV light through an LCD screen, which displays the layer slice like a mask. 

This is where the process got the name. Naturally, the displayed layer is composed of pixels. Thus the pixel size is crucial for the granularity of the print. 

Digital Light Processing (DLP)

As a part of the same group of vat polymerization techniques, DLP also uses light to cure photopolymer resin. It is very similar to SLA printing but with a few differences. DLP printing uses a digital light projector to flash the whole layer of the model at once. This way, as the layer is flashed all at once, there’s no need to cure the resin by making pinpoint flashes on the cross-sections. 

Powder Bed Printing (PBP) 

Powder bed printing (PBP) is a process where a thermal energy source selectively fuses powder particles to create a solid object. It uses thermoplastic powders as 3D printing materials and it’s capable of achieving quite sophisticated geometric objects with excellent mechanical properties. 

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)

This is one of the printing processes that uses the general principle of Powder Bed Fusion. For SLS printing, a bed of thermoplastic powder is heated to a temperature just below the melting point. The recoating blade deposits a thin layer of powder, then a laser fuses the particles selectively to create the next layer. After each layer is scanned, the blade will again deposit some fresh powder for fusing the next layer. Each step of the process is repeated until the full object is manufactured. 

Selective Laser Melting (SLM) and Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS)

Powder bed printing is also possible for metals, which Selective laser melting is all about. The process is much like SLS, but if SLS uses thermoplastic powder as material, SLM uses metal. DMLS doesn’t actually melt the metal particles. It heats them up to the point where changes can happen on a molecular level. SLM, on the other hand, melts the powder completely with a laser, to fuse the metal powder and create a homogenous model. PArts created through SLM and DMLS are later heat-treated for durability. 

Electron Beam Melting (EBM)

This technology is different from other powder bed printing techniques. It uses a high-energy electron beam to induce fusion between the metal powder particles. Compared to SLM and DMLS, EBM creates models at a higher speed. EBM creates parts in a vacuum, and the process can only be used with conductive materials.  

Material Jetting (MJ)

This is a way of 3D printing, where drops of material are deposited on the build platform and then cured on the spot. The material is either photopolymer or wax, both of which cure when exposed to light. A standard inkjet printer delivers the ink in a single layer. MJ printers do the same in multiple layers built upon each other. 

The most notable advantage of this type of printing is speed. Plus, it can produce multiple objects at the same time, as long as they are spaced and lined correctly.

Drop on Demand (DOD)

DOD technology uses two inkjets simultaneously. One is for the build material itself, which is much like wax in its properties. The second inkjet is for the support material, which is dissolvable. To ensure a perfectly flat surface, the DOD technology uses a fly-cutter that flattens the surface after each layer is deposited. 

Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM)

During LOM Printing, layers of adhesive-coated paper, plastic, or metal are glued to each other. Then a laser cutter or a knife cuts the final model out of those layers. While it’s not the most popular method of 3D printing today, it is surely one of the most affordable techniques. 

The list above is a general guide to 3D printing techniques, no if you want to learn more about each of them, hopefully now you’ll feel more confident to do so. 3D printing is a rapidly expanding and developing technology that has lots more in store for us! 

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Origin and History of the 3D printing industry

3D Printed Colorful Object

What is 3D printing, and where did it come from? It might seem to have just appeared out of thin air for the younger generation, but it was a result of hard work and dedication. Today the market is full of different 3D printer models. Looking for a cheap 3D printer? You got it. Maybe you need the best 3D printer out there? That’s possible to arrange as well. But this technology wasn’t as easily accessible in the past. It was developed by engineers, scientists, and enthusiasts throughout several decades of research and progressive thinking. Let’s take a journey through the history of this phenomenon and see how it all began. 

1981-1999: The Infancy of Additive Manufacturing

The roots of a 3D printer lie in a process called additive manufacturing (AM). The name speaks for itself, doesn’t it? Additive manufacturing is a process of creating a certain shape by adding thin layers of material in designated places until the whole shape is complete. 

The idea of such a process being possible tickled the engineering minds in the 1950s, although it didn’t bring any substantial results at the time. Naturally, what’s significant about that period, is believing something like additive manufacturing could actually work. 

In the 1970s, a machine called Liquid Metal Recorder was patented, which is believed to be the first device resembling a 3D printer. It actually worked on additive manufacturing, followed prototypes and used an on-demand pattern manufacturing technique.

Not long after, in the 1980s, Japanese, US and French engineers were already creating prototypes that were undergoing testing, and some of them had a real shot at working. But these devices were nothing like we have today. They were big, bulky and very expensive. Owning a 3D printer could add up to something north of £ 300,000. 

The first-ever patent for a 3D printer was registered in the US in 1984. That year began the rapid development of yet another technological leap.

Another important landmark is 1992, when the patent for Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technology was issued to Stratasys. 

1999 – 2010: The Adolescent History of 3D Printing

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, 3D printing mostly developed along with computer technologies that started to develop faster than before. Now suddenly, there was software that could support all of the wild dreams of printing enthusiasts! 

European EOS GmbH was the one to create EOS “Stereos” software for industrial prototyping. In other words, they started developing the 3D printing software that was used for a long time after that.  

At the time, 3D printing was quite pricey and not widely accessible to everyone. Usually, 3D printing involved people who were in the manufacturing industry and programmers or developers who knew the software well and were creating 3D printer designs. But then slowly, 3D printing took off as an industry and got more and more substantial, slowly starting to replace machinery and entering our schools, universities, and, why not, living rooms and basements. 

2010 – Present day. 3D printing in its prime

In the 2010s, the use of 3D printing or additive manufacturing became so diverse that it affects literally all the key aspects of our lives, from medicine to the automotive industry. All the major markets in the world offer a 3D printer, from home models to professional and construction printers. If you are looking for a 3D printer UK market has to offer, you won’t be disappointed. There are plenty of options out there for every taste and pocket. Even if you’re looking for the best 3D printer UK market can surely accommodate those needs as well. 

Anyone interested in the process and the results can purchase a 3D printer kit that comes with 3D printer software and filament and go off exploring the delightful world of additive manufacturing. 

Nowadays, there are many different 3D printing technologies around, which differ by 3D printing materials and overall technology. The most widespread of them is the FDM printer. Desktop versions of FDM printers mostly work with different kinds of plastic as 3D printer filament, that is fed to a nozzle, melted and then deposited on a platform layer by layer, bringing the prototype to life. There are also other systems like the SLA printers (second popular), which involve a pool of photopolymer resin. That resin is “cured” by a UV laser, creating the desired shape. There are many others as well, but the two listed above are the most widespread. Now that you have the printer, you’ll sure need a file to print!

Before the last decade, the prototypes available for 3D printing were scarce, but as 3D printing became more and more mainstream, hundreds of online libraries offer 3D printer files ready for purchase and print. Lots of libraries, although more limited, are free of charge. So even if you’re not particularly savvy in design software and computer technologies, you can still have all the fun of 3D printing and make toys, household items and anything else you might need. 

Today 3D printing has entered an interesting phase, where it’s very diverse in technology and implications. Throughout the last decade, 3D printing has rediscovered itself in interesting sectors such as construction and medicine. Construction 3D printing is a promising field that can help solve the housing crisis by building affordable and sturdy homes for families in dire need of shelter. In the medical field, 3D printing is creating customised prosthetics and dentures that are created on-demand and fit each individual perfectly. Bioprinting is also an exciting field with lots of mind-blowing possibilities that will very possibly change the way we think about transplants and organ donation. 

We all benefit from 3D printing technology in one way or another. Even if we don’t have the device itself in our homes, the progress is not happening “out there”. It’s happening right here, and we better be ready for it. 

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Benefits of 3D printing

Boy Exploring a 3D Printed Object

3D printing is taking the world by storm and rapidly growing in usage and in volume too. But what is 3D printing?  It is a unique process of additive manufacturing that adds layer upon layer of material according to a previously designed prototype. 

We’ll talk more about different components of 3D printing as we go along, but let’s discuss the benefits this amazing technology has brought and how it has the potential to revolutionise manufacturing.  

Speed

3D printing offers a speedy solution in many types of manufacturing. Probably the most evident example of this is 3D printing in construction. When it comes to construction 3D printing UK is not the leading country on this front. Japan and China are offering many devices and solutions at the moment that will benefit the world. 

These construction printers are able to build a small housing unit in a few day’s time, which is unprecedented and can help solve the housing crisis in many countries. 

Cost

The advantages of 3D printing are versatile and the low cost is definitely one of them. As a one-step process, it requires less time to produce a single unit than a production line, thus saving both maintenance costs and eliminating the human factor. 

Cost-effective solutions are often what holds many people back from achieving their goals. One 3D printer is much more cost-effective than a whole production line. Yes, you pay for the printer, and yes, you pay for the 3D printer filament and utilities such as electricity, but these costs don’t stand close to what a production line might add up to. 

Flexibility

What limits a standard manufacturing production line? You have to have a machine that is capable of producing the part you need and make exact copies of it, right? 

Well, these machines need adjusting, which can be a pain and you might not end up with what you initially intended. When it comes to 3D printing, making adjustments is much easier, because you’re dealing with 3D printing software and not machinery. 

The whole production system is much more flexible as a result. You make adjustments in the software and get the desired result. If it’s still not what you need. Tweak the design a bit more. In the end, the perfect result is much more accessible. 

The limit is only your imagination. If you master the 3D printing design software, it’s hard to put a limit on what you can do with it. 

And even if you need something standard, there are plenty of print-ready 3D printing designs online that are accessible to anyone interested. 

Quality 

Quality in 3D printing highly depends on the grade of the device and the filaments used. The smallest cheapest models might not give the desired effect when it comes to detail, but a professional-grade printer armed with high-quality 3D printing materials can produce amazing results. 

When it comes to manufacturing, smooth surfaces and sturdy construction are a must. A 3D printer is able to achieve that with every print without fail.  

Consistency

The key aspect in 3D printer consistency is again the 3D printing software. If the design is executed perfectly, the outcome will be the same every time. You can eliminate the percentage of defective outcomes, as there are none. 

A 3D printer produces consistent results. Plus, it needs minimal maintenance along the way. Just make sure there’s no power shortage and sufficient filament. Consistency is one of the 3D printing advantages in different fields. From car part production to construction. The results are quick, cost-efficient and consistent. 

Risk reduction

A production line poses risks for the maintenance crew. People lose fingers and limbs in machines all the time. No matter how safe the machine is, accidents still happen. 3D printing eliminates those risks and produces the needed details in a safe and risk-free way. 

The only risk when it comes to 3D printing is the hot nozzle that is not a good idea to touch with your bare hands. In all other aspects, accidents will not happen. If there’s a need for maintenance or fixing, make sure the device had some time to cool down. 

Also, if you’re printing something big, there’s a risk of a power outage causing you to start over. However, all the modern 3D printers are equipped with a special feature, that allows them to pick up where they left off, instead of starting all over and losing all the effort. 

Accessibility

Most of us don’t have access to fancy machines and massive production. So if we need to replace a broken clip on the bike helmet, or have a comfortable car holder for the phone, we go to the store and buy it. 

So what if they don’t have what we need? That’s where it gets tough. As consumers, we have to either conform to what is offered to us by manufacturers or find another way to alter the merch offered.  3D printing offers a whole other approach. 

Never before has manufacturing been accessible to the general public. But it is now. All you need is a computer that can support 3D printer software, a 3D printer, and an idea. Then you’re good to go! 

If you need a 3D printer UK has lots of options to offer. From table-top models to professional large devices. The best 3D printing software is also available to the public. It is not free, but it is accessible. 

Sustainability 

The 20th century, with its industrial revolution and the wide use of plastic, has devastated our planet and continue to do so throughout the beginning of the 21st century. We are just waking up to what we have done and now try to reverse the damage. 

What better way to do that than to start reusing plastic? Some 3D printing filaments are even biodegradable. 3D printing is all about reusing, and doing it efficiently, and in a sustainable way. 

Customization

The customization feature of 3D printing is probably easiest to illustrate on the example of prosthetics manufacturing. 3D printing has brought medicine a lot of benefits, and especially when it comes to prosthetics. They are very individual and have to be calculated very precisely. 

That’s exactly what 3D printing helps us achieve. Each prosthetic and denture are unique, and each print can be adjusted to the future owner. Plus, these prosthetics are still lower in costs than the ones manufactured in a conventional way and are less time-consuming.  

Win-win for manufacturers and clients alike. 

Economic growth

Because of all the reasons listed above, economic growth will follow as a result. 3D printing is truly sustainable, efficient and consistent. 

That means low costs for production, low risks and a less time-consuming process. With less input, manufacturers can gain higher profits and grow. 
By now you hopefully have an answer to the question of how does 3D printing work, and how is it different from other types of manufacturing. As you can see it carries a lot of benefits, that could save us time, effort, budget and still give us excellent results. The future of 3D printing is surely prosperous, but it’s our job to make that happen.

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3D Printing Guide for Beginners

3D Printed Colorful Object

Table of Content

Introduction

Origin and History of 3D Printing

Benefits of 3D Printing

3D Printing Technology

3D Printing Process

3D Printers and Types

3D Modeling Process

3D Printing Accessories: Filament and 3D Pen

3D Printing Apps

Applications of 3D Printing

How to Choose a 3D Printer

Why You Should Choose Us

To Sum Up

In this article, you will learn anything you need to know about 3D printing, from history to technology. Plus, you will learn what 3D printers are used for and what you can make with them at home. 

Introduction 

3D printing is a fairly new technology and idea, but it has already heavily infiltrated our lives and the industrial world. From aviation and automotive to clothes and home design – there are lots of things that are created using this very technology. 

There are a lot of reasons why it has found such widespread use. With a 3D printer, the manufacturing is much faster, sometimes cheaper. Plus, it helps to eliminate huge machines and automate some processes that are heavily reliant on humans. 

But what is a 3D printer, and how can a person use it at home? Why would anyone even want to get such a complicated piece of what seems like a machine from the future? 

Let us walk you through the process, starting from the very beginning. 

Origin and History of 3D Printing Industry

What is a 3D printer? 

Additive manufacturing or 3D printing is the process of creating multidimensional objects from a digital 3D model or a CAD model.  

It was first introduced quite recently in terms of historical timelines, only 40 years ago. The first 3D printer was built in the early 1980s, whereas the concept of this technology was first introduced a few years earlier. 

The first-ever 3D printer was built in 1983 by Chuck Hull, which used a UV laser to build object layer after layer out of liquid raisin. This method is known as Stereolithography or simply SLA. 

In the following years, many various technologies were created in order to help people with different needs, using a wide variety of materials. 

Benefits of 3D Printing

This technology has very significant and, in some cases, revolutionary benefits that it can bring to big companies across many fields as well as to those who are just starting their business. 

3D printing is widely used not only in prototyping but also in the full production lines of many manufacturing businesses. Some are also switching to 3D technology from the traditional means of production. 

Here is the list of the main benefits from the latest 3D printing technology:

  • Cost Reduction – probably the most important benefit when it comes to profitability, as you can still meet all your objectives and demands, but at a lower cost.
  • Various Materials – there is a wide variety of different materials that can be used in 3D printing technology, and the list of those materials is rapidly growing. Plus, you can experiment and test different materials for innovation purposes. 
  • On-Demand Manufacturing – you can create a different product when they are needed, instead of overloading your warehouses. 
  • Fast Production – Traditional production methods take a long time to set up. However, the best 3D printing technology takes much less time. Plus, the production process is much faster, and the bugs are much easier to detect and fix.
  • Idea- Prototype – The development of an idea into a prototype used to take ages, now it’s much quicker, and bugs can be fixed along the way. Sometimes it takes a ready product to see flaws in the design, which are much easier to fix in the digital model and try again.  

The whole idea behind using 3D printing technology for business is that you are able to create a new and quality product faster than your competitors. With this technology, the time between idea, design and testing is much shorter, the process is much cheaper, and the flaws are easily detectable and fixable. 

That’s the main reason why more and more companies are choosing to switch over to this method – in order to survive and get ahead in the times of fierce competition in the high-tech world of today.  

3D Printing Technology

As we have already mentioned, there are many different methods or technologies used in 3D printing that can help you accomplish different goals, use different printing methods and materials and vary in their printing speeds. 

Refer to the list below to see them all and know which ones are best for your needs: 

  • Stereolithography (SLA)

As stated above, this one is the oldest method of 3D printing technology and it uses a liquid resin that is hardened by the UV ray into the desired shape layer by layer. 

  • Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)

This method is most commonly used for commercial production and 3D printers for the general public. Here, a plastic filament builds the object on a heatbed while it gets heated and goes out through an extruder.

  • Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)

This method is much like SLA but uses different materials. Here, the material is in powder form, and a laser sinters it layer by layer into the designed shape. 

  • Selective Laser Melting (SLM)

Here, instead of sintering the powdered material, a laser melts it all the way in order to shape the needed design. 

  • Digital Light Processing (DLP)

This technology is very much like the SLA, with one very big difference – the source of light. Unlike the laser used in SLA, here we have a projector, and mirrors control its trajectory.   

  • Electronic Beam Melting (EBM)

This technology is very similar to SLM, with a significant difference in the source of heat – the EBM uses an electron beam instead of a laser, as used in SLM, to melt the materials. It’s important to note that both technologies have enough power to melt even powdered metal. 

  • Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM)

Here the layers of material are fused together, each of them coated in the adhesive with heat and pressure. Then the object is cut into a designed shape with a knife or laser. This method makes 3D printing a very rapid process. 

3D Printing Process

As we talked about the different technologies, it’s no doubt hard to understand for those people who are far from engineering and manufacturing and looking to get a 3D printer for their kids on Christmas. Of course, all the technologies mentioned above are mostly for production purposes. However, the process of creating an object with a 3D printer is very much the same whether you need to use it to print car parts or a vase for your living room. 

Here are the main 3 steps that you need to take to create an object using a 3D printer: 

  1. Design – Here, you need to design your object and transfer it into a CAD format, so the printer can then use it to print the object. The software is widely available both in paid and free formats, and some are even there for you to work online through a website. 
  2. Printing – Here, you need to feed the digital design to the 3D printer and choose the materials you want to use to print the object. There is a wide variety of different ones, from plastics to ceramics, metal and wood. 
  3. Polishing – This is the final step in the process of 3D printing. As soon as your object is printed, now you need to test it and polish it before you can present it to anyone – your family or clients, what have you. Here you can either paint, sand or give other finishing touches to your product. 

3D Printers and Types

Above, we have talked in length about the different printing technologies, and there are as many different types of 3D printers as there are different technologies. 

Different ones are used for different things, in a variety of industries, as each uses a method and material beneficial and applicable for one or another industry. 

For example, EMB technology is widely used in manufacturing biomedical prosthetics and lightweight components for the space shuttles aerospace industry. But it will hardly be used in manufacturing clothes or footwear. 

The most common in-home 3D printers are the FDM one, as it’s the most simple, is compatible with a variety of filaments, is pretty straightforward in use, and won’t cost you a fortune to purchase. 

Plus, it’s more or less safe to have around children, of course with adult supervision only, and won’t take up too much space on your desk or in the garage. 

SLA printers are the second most popular 3D printers for homes and classrooms. However, here you are more constricted in the matter of how big of an object you can make, by the size of the printer itself, and you need to operate it in a very well ventilated space, or outside, as the 3D printer will emit a bit of odour while printing. 

3D Modelling Process

When it comes to modelling, there are a lot of ready to go models available online. There are many libraries where you can sign up and download as much design as you want for your 3D printer. 

In case you want to create your own, then you need to go through some steps to make sure your design doesn’t have flaws, and you can have it in the needed format for the 3D printer to be able to read it and then print the object. 

  • Create a 2D model of the object (digital or otherwise)
  • Extract a 3D model from a 2D file
  • Prepare the model 
  • Export it in a 3D format to use it later on in 3D software
  • Scale and adjust the design in 3D software
  • Download the ready model to feed it to the 3D printer.

Above is the overview of what you need to do to create a 3D model of your choice, in case nothing that is available online is not a suitable option for you.  

3D Printing Accessories: Filament and 3D Pen

As we have mentioned earlier, there are lots of materials used in 3D printing, which is called a filament, in other words. 

There are the most common plastic ones – ABS, PLA, PVA, HIPS, PETG, TPE/TPU/TPC, Nylon and much more. You can create anything you want, from Legos to shows and gloves. 

There are also some not so common filaments, like wood, metal, wax, ceramics and such. These are more expensive and harder to get. Plus, not all machines are compatible with such filaments. Before purchasing a 3D printer, be sure to investigate what kinds of filaments you can use with it and how much they cost.  

Some of these plastics are food safe, like PLA, PP, Nylon-6 and PET, as well as some brands of ABS. However, in case you need to put them into a dishwasher, do not print anything with PLA, PET and Nylon, as they soften in high temperatures. 

The cost of these filaments also varies, the eco-friendly and food and child safe ones are naturally on the higher end of the spectrum, but the average price would be about £20 per kg.

In case you want to test out how you feel about a 3D printer in your home or want to make a relatively inexpensive gift for your kid, who might get tired of a 3D printer anyway, a 3D pen might be your best choice!  

It’s a small device that will 3D print writings, small objects and is very easy to use. Even your 10-year-old will have loads of fun making school projects with it, and maybe even create fun objects for you and your family, like coasters, magnets and so on. 

3D Printing Apps

There is a lot of both paid and free software available for 3D printing, as it grew more in popularity.

Moreover, there are also a lot of apps that will help you master the 3D printing process and make it easier and more fun. 

There are a lot of them that are both available for Android and iOS, and some that are only for one or the other. 

The most popular one of them would be the Tinkerplay, which gives clear and easy instructions to follow to create the 3D model. Plus, its UI is very intuitive with lifelike simulations. 

Other famous ones include Blokify, MakerBot Mobile, Thingiverse, Morphy and Autodesk 123D. 

Applications of 3D Printing

As we have mentioned before, 3D printing has become popular with industries much sooner than it began to be accessible and available for household use. 

There are many industries that have been using 3D technology to create an easier or maybe cheaper manufacturing line and automating their processes. 

Here are the most common uses of 3D technology in manufacturing by industries. 

Architecture & Construction 

Back in the olden days, architects used to create their models of cardboard, paint them and maybe even make it a family pastime. 

However, today all that’s behind us, with a 3D printer at hand. The process is much faster and efficient. Plus, no more arts and craft supplies clotting the office or the home office. 

However, 3D printing technology has gone way further than just being a handy model building equipment. It might sound like something futuristic, but there are buildings now being built with 3D technology. 

The first commercial 3D printed construction was a pedestrian bridge over the stream in the Park of Madrid that opened to the public in late 2016. 

Less than a year later, the first 3D printed building was built in 2017 in Copenhagen, Denmark.  At the moment, the biggest 3D printed building, which is registered in the Guinness Book of World Records, is 9.5 meters tall and has a space of 640 square meters.  

Automotive 

Like any other, the automotive industry has adopted 3D technology and has been using it for some time now. As 3D printing doesn’t only mean plastic, but metal too, there have been many items produced in this manner, from end-use parts and spares to fixtures and tools.

Plus, this technology has given an opportunity to put the warehouses and stocking problems behind, as on-demand manufacturing is a primary source of such items. In case you need an item, you make it. If not, then don’t. 

With the rise of electric cars and motorcycles, additive manufacturing has become a huge part of their production. There are even some that are fully 3D printed. For example, the use of 3D printing technology in the manufacturing of BigRep’s electric motorcycles has reduced their production line to 12 weeks. 

Aerospace & Aviation 

As we see Elon Musk building spaceships that can return safely to Earth and be reused, it would be silly to assume that one of the greatest visionaries of the modern-day doesn’t use a new technology that can do so much more than traditional manufacturing, at the same time reducing costs and introducing new materials.  

#d printing made it possible to introduce new materials that are reducing weight and at the same time are increasing their durability. These materials are widely used in both aerospace and automotive industries to create parts of the aircrafts like fuel nozzles and some inside parts.  

Plus, there are currently rocket engines and parts are being partially and sometimes fully built using 3D technology. As the benefits of additive manufacturing are undeniable, the industry welcomes the possibility of less material waste, higher production speed and better products as an outcome. 

There are also some “crazy” ideas floating, like those that propose self-replicating 3D printers that can even process soil on the Moon. This, of course, would make the colonisation and exploration of the moon very efficient, but as of today remains a very bold idea from the researchers of the University of Ottawa. We will probably see something similar being developed soon enough. 3D printing software and technology has made a huge leap of advancement in the past few years. 

Racing 

When it comes to racing, even the millisecond can make a huge difference in determining the winner. Thus, 3D printing can come in very handy in order to create the best car on the track by making the parts of the car more durable and lighter at the same time with innovative materials, and as a consequence providing it with greater speed. 

There are also advantages for racers when the speed of wheel changing is increased, and that’s also when additive manufacturing can come in handy, creating tools necessary for a quicker process. 

Medical 

The medical industry has been one of the first ones to embrace 3D printing technology. There are so many different applications here that it’s hard to name them all. 

First and foremost, additive manufacturing has revolutionised the dental industry. From night guards and aligners to fixing broken teeth and floss assistance – there is nothing that 3D printing can’t help you with. It also helps with creating a mould for further carvings of the ceramic crown or creating dentures. 3D printing has sped up this process, making it much cheaper. 

3D printing has also revolutionised the manufacturing of prosthetics, using much lighter and durable materials. Anything from hearing aids to a prosthetic hand or foot – you name it, 3D printer will make it. 

Moreover, additive manufacturing has been a great aid in creating eyewear from new materials that can bend and not break, providing patients with the longevity of the glasses and the convenience of not having to change them so often or be very gentle with them.

Another application of 3D printing technology in the future may be donor organ 3D printing. The idea is to take a tissue sample and create a fully functional organ using additive manufacturing. This technology is being developed as we speak, so it can soon be our reality. 

Jewellery 

This industry has also been very fond of 3D printing, as it’s used to create the designs and moulds for further carving it from the metal. 3D prototyping has made the mass production of jewellery much more efficient and rapid. 

The most common material used for designers within jewellery is metal. 3D Printing materialises the following materials to develop its products: Brass (Gold, colour and PU plating), Silver (Gloss and high gloss, satin, sandblasted and antique) and Gold (14k or 18k and polishing). 

Consumer Products 

Nowadays, we can find more and more products being 3D printed for mass production. Such things include clothes, footwear, eyewear, jewellery, accessories. The list goes on and on. 

There are many famous brands, such as Adidas, that are now mass producing sneakers that have been 3D printed using recycled plastic. 

There are also items of home decor, like reproductions of famous paintings, that you can purchase for your home that were 3D printed. They not only give you the image but also texture, making them the most realistic reproductions. 

3D Printing In Education And At Home

It is undeniable that the future has a lot in store for us when it comes to using 3D printing technology. Thus, we need professionals that understand this technology, know how to operate it and are able to develop it further to accommodate the needs of tomorrow. 

Hence, it’s very important to introduce this piece of technology in the classrooms and get the kids and students excited and interested in it. It is also crucial to teach them how to use it and all the much needed and potential applications of it. 

In the medical and science faculties of universities, a 3D printer should be an inseparable part of their learning process, as that’s the equipment that they will use in their everyday work tomorrow. 

You can also get a 3D printer for your home, in case you are into technology and want to get your kids fired up about it too. There are many items of home decor you can make with it like vases, keychains, picture frames, toys, oven mitts and so on. 

There are really no limits to the imagination when it comes to the minds of our children and what they want to play with. 

If your kids are crafty and like to make things on their own, then a 3D printer at home can be a valuable asset for their development and a great tool to make personalised presents and toys for the whole family. 

How to choose a 3D printer

Now that we know pretty much anything there is to know about 3D printing, let’s see what criteria you need to take into account, in order to pick a perfect 3D printer for your needs. 

So let’s start from the basics. Ask yourself several basic questions: 

  • What do I want to print?
  • What type of 3D printer should I buy?
  • What features should I look for?
  • What materials do I need to print with?
  • How much should I spend?

There are many more questions that need to be answered for the full picture, however, these are probably the most fundamental ones, so you can get an idea of at least where to start. 

Consider Application

First and foremost you need to answer yourself, what will be the main application of the 3D printer? D

Do you need it for work, education, starting a business, hobby, for your kids? 

As soon as you decide on the application, you can then start searching 3D printers in that category, and consider other features. 

There are details associated with each application. 

For example, 3D printers for kids are very limited in their printing capabilities and filament choice, as they need to be as safe as possible for the child’s use with minimum supervision. 

On the other hand, professional 3D printers can be very expensive and massive in size, and might simply not have enough room or budget to be able to purchase them. They are also very particular with compatible filaments. 

You might have a question about what style of 3D printer do I need? The answer to this question also derives from its application. 

As you already know there are various types of 3D printers, each approaching the printing process in its own, unique way. 

Thus, you need to get the one that will help you print exactly what you need in the most convenient, fastest and cost-effective manner. 

Consider Features

There are several very important features you need to look for in a 3D printer, as soon as you decide on your application. 

Above all, it’s the printing size.

The printing size may limit your printing options and creativity. However, if you know exactly what you need it for, and are not planning to diversify, even a small printing size can suffice. 

For instance, if you are a dental technician, and will be printing dental moulds for your patients, you probably are not going to need a huge printing size. 

However, if you want to get the 3D printer to experiment with different shapes and sizes at home, creating items for home decor, vases and so on, a small printing size will significantly reduce your creative capacity.  

One more question you might have is do I need multiple filament support? 

Again, this feature matters a lot for creative freedom, and if you need to create multi colour objects. 

In such a case, yes, you should definitely consider getting a 3D printer that can support any need you might have. 

Still, if you know exactly what you will be doing, and multicolour objects are in no way on the list of your priorities, it’s better to get a simpler model that gets the job done, instead of looking for extras. 

In general, the filament types are an important feature to take into account. There are somewhat universal 3D printers out there, that have a wide range of filament support, and there are those that are limited in their filament compatibility. 

Again, everything depends on the application. 

Consider Budget 

Budget is another very important point to take into account when choosing a 3D printer. 

As we have already discussed, beginner and professional 3D printers differ, as well as their prices. 

You can find a 3D printer for as little as $50 and as much as $60.000. 

Naturally, those that are on the high end of the spectrum are mostly highly professional ones, used in manufacturing and global industries. 

When it comes to personal use, start-ups and such, most probably the one you chose will be in the range of $250 – $1000. 

This will be a decent quality and feature set machine, with high performance and ease in use. 

Remember, not to go for the cheapest option, as the quality won’t stand the test of time. Plus, the end product most probably won’t satisfy you. 

Keep in mind – buy cheap, buy twice! 

Why You Should Choose Us

As you can see, 3D printing is an amazing piece of technology that is now available for us at home, and we should no doubt teach our kids the new tech as soon as possible, as it’s going to be even more widespread and popular in the future. 

There are many different shops where you can purchase a 3D printer for home, but here are some reasons why you should choose us. 

  • We put our clients in the centre of all our activities and guarantee 100% satisfaction every time you shop with us. 
  • 3D Printer World is a specialised 3D printer shop UK market has to offer and is one of the best ones out there with a set of great services to go with the wide selection of high-quality 3D printers and best prices
  • We offer free delivery around the UK, as well as a warranty on all of our machines. We also got your back with 24-hour customer support and a 30-day money-back guarantee, which just shows how customer-centric our company really is. 
  • Plus, our very user-friendly website and easy navigation interface will make a shopping experience pleasant and stress-free. 

To Sum Up

OK, so what do we know so far? 

  • 3D printers are the present and the FUTURE, and slowly but surely becoming a part of our lives.
  • There are many different 3D printing processes that will accommodate basically any need.
  • 3D printing can be used in nearly any industry to automate, innovate or scale.
  • You know the exact steps to choose the 3D printer to perfectly fit your needs.  

Now you can begin your 3D printer journey with ease and pick the one that will fully satisfy your needs and expectations. 

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Best Budget 3D Printer Under £500

Four Different 3D Printers

Introduction

You have probably heard of this really cool new piece of technology called 3D printers. 

Also, you are likely to think it’s an expensive machine that is used by professionals and is out of the reach of an everyday person. 

Let us tell you – 3D printers are for everybody! 

There are lots of different kids out there, and in this article, we will discuss and present you the best budget 3D printers UK has to offer. 

That’s right, all of these will be just under £500.

How much does a 3D printer cost?

This is the question and answer which may surprise many people who are not up to speed with modern technology. 

Let’s start with the use of 3D printers. 

There are professional grid ones that are used in such industries as aerospace, automotive, mainstream production. 

3D technology really infiltrated and reshaped our understanding of technology and its limits. 

We can do things with 3D technology that were considered something of a science fiction not more than 30 years ago.

There are machines now that can print metal, fused and mixed materials, clay, and of course the traditional plastic, which you also have many kids of. 

So what are the 3D printer prices

Those professional and high-efficiency printers, of course, cost a lot of money. You are looking to pay anything from £5.000 – £10.000. 

However, those are not the focus of our topic today. 

There are also a lot of machines available out there for those of you, who are tech geeks, tech enthusiasts, or simply need something small to modernise your operations. 

Those kinds are much smaller in size, have limited capabilities, and the prices reflect that. 

When looking for a cheap 3D printer, you can expect to pay something from £100 – £500. 

Those also include DIY models. They are great in the sense that you get to build it yourself, giving you more profound knowledge and understanding of how everything works. 

If you are not planning to print a house for yourself, and looking for something small, here are the best models in the range of affordable 3D printers.  

Best budget 3D printers

As we have mentioned before, a cheap 3D printer can be easily found. The important thing is knowing what you want it for, thus comes the choice of different ones.  

Below we will present you with our picks of the best 3D printers under 500.

BIQU Magician

BIQU Magician 3D printer is an excellent option for those that need something compact and high efficiency to use at home or for educational purposes. 

Plus, it’s ideal for beginners, as it doesn’t require any assembly. All you need to do is unpack it and start using. 

This printer uses FDM technology and is compatible with a wide range of different filaments. 

BIQU Magician is the most affordable 3D printer on the list, with a market price of £305. 

It has a pretty impressive printing volume for its price range of 100*150 mm in diameter and comes with either Titan or MK8 extruder. 

Magical also features a TFT 2.8 highly-sensitive touch screen for easy and convenient operation and includes automatic levelling for your convenience and prints 70mm/s. 

In case you want to print small toys for your kids or learn 3D printing technology for your class, or maybe you are a beginner and don’t want a complicated machine to learn on, this is a perfect option for you.

Anet ET4

Anet ET4 3D printer is the best affordable 3D printer you can find! 

It is one of the most cost-effective printers out there, which makes it the perfect option for the small manufacturers and professional use. 

Whether you need to print dental moulds, architectural models or jewellery designs, this cheap 3D printer is what you need! 

The price is only £390! 

With a printing speed of 150 mm/s due to dual rails and a great printing volume of 220*220*250 mm, it gives you the room to experiment and at the same time get what you need out of it fast! 

Anet ET4 is a silent machine, compatible with a broad range of different filaments like PLA, HIPS, Nylon, PP, TPU and more; with an option of offline printing that guarantees smooth and highly detailed end-product. 

BIQU Thunder

Another model from this manufacturer – the BIQU Thunder 3D printer is also perfect for manufacturers and professional use. 

It has an impressive printing volume of 300*300*400 mm and a printing speed of 150 mm/s and comes in 2 versions – standard and advanced.

The standard version comes with features like automatic levelling, filament jamming detection and detachable magnetic heat bed. 

The advanced models offer such added features like remote printing via an app, wifi connection and an automatic shut down after the printing is finished. 

The price is a bit higher than the above 2 models and starts from £430. 

However, you get your money’s worth with this highly efficient machine that is just perfect for busy professionals, that need quick and smart technology, to print even when they are not there. 

All of its features make this model, hands down, the best budget 3D printer UK has to offer. 

JGAURORA A3S

Last but not least, our home-friendly, slightly more sophisticated model – JGAURORA A3S 3D printer. 

The printing volume on this one is 205*205*205 mm with a printing speed ranging from 10-150 mm/s. 

It is an FDM printer, perfect for those who want to teach printing to their kids, make toys and home decor objects together, or simply learn about this new technology and bring to life the theories from the classroom and books. 

A3S has a full metal frame and diamond glass heat bed, for excellent adhesion and easy pick-up.

This printer is slightly on the higher end in our range of cheap 3D printers with a price of £480. 

This model is equipped with a filament detection technology, letting you know if the filament breaks or is about to finish. It also automatically stops printing in such a case, and resumes form the breaking point to avoid waste. 

Which 3D printer is best for different industries? 

There are many things you need to take into consideration when choosing which 3D printer to buy. 

One of the criteria is the material you will need to use. For example, do you need to print metal, plastic, wood or any other material? If possible, choose a printer that will be compatible with a wide variety of filaments, however, metal, for instance, will need a separate machine to work. 

Another question is what kind of end-product you will be printing? Is it going to be dental moulds, shoes, auto parts or anything else? Knowing the desired results will guide you in the right direction, as your choice will derive from the printing volume as well. 

For instance, if you need to make dental moulds, then the Anet ET4 is the perfect option for you. However, it will be a bit small, if you are a home decor designer. In the case of latter, your best bet would be to go with the BIQU Thunder, as it has a far greater printing volume. 

So to recap, make sure you are considering every aspect of your industry and manufacturing process to make an informed decision. 
These best 3D printer under £500 listed above are just a small portion of all the machines available out there, thus make sure you do your research before getting one.

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How much does 3D printing cost?

Boy Exploring a 3D Printed Object

We were used to thinking about 3D printing as something out of science fiction, but it’s been on our doorsteps for a while now, and it has become more and more affordable over time. 

But how much does it cost to own and successfully operate a 3D printer? 

We have to consider not only the 3D printer cost itself but also the 3D printer filament, the 3D printing software, electricity costs, and the possible upgrades for better printing results. 

Let’s discuss the realistic prices and see how much 3D printing actually costs. 

3D printer cost 

How much does a 3D printer cost? The range of 3D printers is extensive. It starts with a 3D printing pen at about £30,  but 3D printer price depends on a few specifications:

3D printer body material

You can find a low cost 3D printer model for under £200 on the UK market. Those are typically small-sized, have a plastic body, and lack in printing precision. 

With that said, if you are looking for a 3D printer to be used in an educational environment for demonstration, a cheap 3D printer will do the trick. 

If you need a 3D printer that will feature high precision and good filament flow, consider a metal construction.  Metal 3D printer cost will be higher than plastic, starting from  £350- £400 and up. 

Printing size

Desktop printers

3D printer cost will also range depending on printing size. The non-industrial devices are usually referred to as ‘desktop printers’ and have a printing size of 300x300x400mm on average. 

Desktop 3D printer price ranges, as we said, from £200 to about £1000 and more. The expensive 3D printer usually means more precision and less hassle when it comes to part replacements and upgrades. 

Industrial printers 

An industrial-grade 3D printer price UK has to offer can vary from around £1000 up to a few thousand and more. Those are professional devices used in mass manufacturing and are not usually suited for individual use because of their size and price as well. 

Printing Material

3D printers vary in the 3D printing materials they use and the general principle behind printing. The 2 biggest categories are FDM and SLA printers. They are different not only in 3D printer filament but also in technology of the whole process, as well as the price. 

FDM printers

This is the most popular kind of desktop 3D printers on the market and the most affordable one as well. These printers use a filament ‘feeding’ mechanism, which basically melts the filament and uses a precise nozzle to distribute this 3D printer filament and make it into a specific shape. 

The price range we discussed before mostly included FDM printers, so we have to repeat ourselves here. They range from £200 to approximately £1000-£2000, meaning the devices that can be used at home.  

SLA printers

They use a totally different principle to print. The filament is actually a pool of resin, and the device uses UV light to ‘transform’ the resin and make it into shape. These printers are generally higher in precision and are more costly. Starting from around £600 and ranging up to a few thousand as well. 

Also, consider possible update purchases, and replacements that can add up to around  £70-£80. 

Don’t forget, there’s always the option to buy a used 3D printer if you are looking to cut the cost, but check both the seller and the product carefully before making a decision. If you are not particularly tech-savvy, ask someone for help. 

3D printer filament cost 

As we mentioned before, 3D printer filament can range in price and material, so let’s discuss the FDM and SLA printers separately and compare the prices. 

The filament is a large section of expenses, when it comes to 3D printing, as you need a lot of it if you are hoping to print something worthwhile. 

And regardless of the type, it’s always more cost-effective to buy in bulk, if you are planning on using your printer regularly. 

FDM printer filament cost 

FDM printers use a range of materials, from different sorts of plastic to 3D printer wood filament, and 3D printer metal filament. The most popular 3D printer filament types for an FDM printer are PLA and ABS (types of plastic), which cost about £15- £20 for 1KG of filament. 

So how long can you use it for? It basically depends on how much you print. If you are doing a small 100g print, it will cost you about £2 maximum. If you are doing a large 400g-500g print, you will spend about £10. But remember, that you can sometimes cut the cost by doing a hollow shape instead of a solid one. 3D printer filament UK market offers today are multicoloured, have different thicknesses, and are suited for different printers, so you have a wide range to choose from. 

SLA printer filament cost 

As we said before, the SLA 3D printer uses UV sensitive resin to print, and a 500g bottle of this resin costs around £20, so it’s a bit more expensive, but still worth the price considering the detailing and the incredible precision SLA printers provide. 

3D printing software cost

3D printing is a CAD-based (computer-aided design) process, so you need 3D printing design software to create and design the shapes you are hoping to print. If you are not that into the design part, that’s ok too. Today there are online libraries, where you can choose ready designs to print. 

Free CAD software for 3D printing is not that hard to find, but if you are serious about your printing, it’s a good idea to invest money and time into quality design software.  It usually costs cheaper, when paid annually, but monthly payments are around £100 for professional 3D printing software.  

You will also need so-called slicing software, which transforms your designed shape into a multitude of layers for the device to print. That software usually comes with the printer, but again, you can purchase it separately, spending around 50 additional pounds. 

Time and Electricity

This is not that big of a segment of spending, even when it comes to continuous use of a 3D printer. Some models are more energy-efficient than others, but on average the energy consumption is relatively small, the cost comes around to about £60-£100 per year, which is insignificant, compared to device and filament prices, but should be considered nonetheless. 

The process is time-consuming, though. It often takes a few hours to print a relatively small 300x300x300 shape. If you are printing something big, be prepared to spend time on it. 

On the other hand, you can always leave the printer to do its job and get on with your usual schedule. Most of them have power-loss protection built-in, and things like break-resume technology, which will stop the process if the printer is out of filament and you’re not there to feed a new roll in. 

Total Cost 

We’ve discussed all the major items of expenditure in the 3D printing world, so let’s take stock and shortlist all the expenses one more time:

  • 3D Printer –  £200-£1000
  • Filament –  £20 per 1KG
  • Software –  £50-£100 monthly with an option to cut this cost and get free software
  • Electricity –  £60-£100 annually. 

As you can see,  3D printing can be quite affordable and can make an enjoyable and educational pastime not only for yourself but for the whole family. 

3D printing is quite flexible. There’s always a way to cut some costs here and there, and vice versa, invest more if you are planning on doing this professionally. 

Be aware and prepared, when it comes to finances, and 3D printing will not disappoint! 

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What is a 3D printer and how it fits in our lives today?

people discussing 3D printing

Introduction

In our ever changing and fast-paced world, we need to keep up with the latest technologies so we can be competitive in the modern world as well as to make our lives easier, processes faster, and simply be in the loop of today’s realities. 

You have surely heard of Adidas making 3D printed sneakers or other companies using recycled materials to make clothes, shows, as well as jewellery and many other things. 

Whether we want it or not, this new technology has entered our lives and is here to stay, as 3D printing provides not only innovation but also aids in environmental issues, as it can use recycled materials.  

What is a 3D printer?

For those of you who don’t know this technology, and never heard of it before, let us give you a bit of a background in this technology and show how far it has come in a considerably short period. 

3D printing, otherwise known as additive manufacturing, is a process of making 3-dimensional  objects from a CAD/digital 3D model.

So simply put, a 3D printer, is a printer that prints objects that have three dimensions – the depth, the height and the width. 

A bit of history

Additive manufacturing or 3D printers were invented not so long ago. The first concept of 3D printing technology was laid out in 1974, and as early as the 1980s, the first 3D printer was built. 

The first-ever manufactured 3D printer used Stereolithography method, or simply SLA, which is basically using a liquid resin and UV laser to build the object layer-by-layer. It was created in 1983 by Chuck Hull. 

Later on, many other different technologies have been created, to accommodate different needs and provide a variety of materials.

How does a 3D printer work?

As we have mentioned before, a 3D printer is a machine that prints objects, rather than flat images on things.

It is also called additive manufacturing, as the objects are printed layer-by-layer, adding the material as they go, rather than all at once. 

Many different materials are used in this technology and called a filament. Each 3D printer filament may be different, as technologies of printing differ. 

There is a great variety of 3D printer UK has to offer due to the different technologies available, and each of them brings something unique to the table. 

3D Printing Technologies

Here are all the main technologies used, some of which are more suitable for home and others for industries, however knowing what is out there will help you in the decision of how to choose the right 3D printer for your specific needs. 

  • Stereolithography (SLA) 

As stated earlier, this is the first and oldest method of making 3D printer designs, using liquid raisin and UV ray to solidify the plastic, building the model layer-by-layer.  

  • Digital Light Processing (DLP)

This method is very close to the previous one, with one significant difference, being the light source. In SLA there is a UV Laser, and in DLP there is a projector, which trajectory is controlled by mirrors. 

  • Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)

This is one of the most commonly used technologies for commercial 3D printers. This method uses plastic filaments to build structures through heating them and putting them through an extruder that builds the object on a heatbed. 

  • Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)

This process is very similar to the SLA, but instead of liquid resin, it uses powdered material that is later on sintered into the needed shape in subsequent layers by a laser. 

  •  Selective Laser Melting (SLM)

Just like the previous method, this one also uses powdered material, but unlike it, it melts it all the way with a laser to put it in the desired shape with a laser. 

  • Electronic Beam Melting (EBM)

This method is very similar to the previous one, with one big difference – instead of a laser, it uses an electron beam to melt the filament into the desired shape. Both technologies of SLM and EMB are powerful enough to melt the powdered metal. 

  • Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM)

This is a rapid way of 3D prototyping. This technology fuses together layers of the material, that is each coated with adhesive using pressure and heat, and then cuts the object into needed shape with a knife or a laser.  

How can we use a 3D printer?

This technology, as you can see, is very diverse, has many 3D printer models available, and depending on what you want to do with it, can accommodate any needs, no matter how complex and varied. 

The 3D printer has found its way into our lives on so many levels, that it is a very common and normal aspect of many people’s lives. 

Let us give you an idea of where 3D printer UK has to offer is used today, some of which will surely surprise you. 

Industrial use

This one is probably the most anticipated use, as any technology is mostly created initially for industrial use, and then later it enters the everyday lives of consumers. 

There are many different industries that today have adopted this technology and are using it very successfully to innovate old processes, become more competitive with new technologies and bring something new to the table, simplifying otherwise complicated processes of production. 

Medical Industry

Wouldn’t it be amazing, to be able to save lives through organ transplant, without having to wait for human organs in huge lines? Just take a tissue sample, 3D print the needed organ and implant it. 

Sounds like a scene from a futuristic sci-fi film, doesn’t it?

Well, that reality is closer than you think.

In the past rears, hearings aids, and hip replacements have been widely 3D printed. 

Moreover, the dental industry has benefited a lot from this technology, with mainly 3D printing dental moulds, dentures and crowns. 

Automotive Industry

This industry has taken 3D printing technology and widely uses it for a while now, printing anything from spare and end-use parts to tools and fixtures. 

3D printers made the on-demand manufacturing possible, which has lowered the costs of design and production and putting an end to stock problems. 

The racing industry, which is also a part of Automotive as a whole, uses 3D printer UK has to offer to make their cars more competitive by printing the needed parts with new and innovative materials, making the parts lighter and more rigid, thus giving the car advantage of a lighter weight, consequently providing it with more speed. 

Aviation Industry

Much like the automotive industry, aviation is using 3D printers to make parts of planes, like fuel nozzles. Other papers used both onboard and as a part of the aircraft are being 3D printed, lowering their cost and increasing efficiency. This fact is due to the new materials used, which makes the parts lighter and more durable at the same time. 

Aerospace Industry

This industry took this technology to the next level, making rocket engines and parts on a 3D printer. What has been said before, is also true in this industry, as in materials and the production speed has been improved, making manufacturing father, much more waste officiant, guaranteeing lighter and stronger parts as an outcome. 

There have also been “crazy” ideas floating around, like those from the University of Ottawa. Their researches have proposed a concept of 3D printers that can self-replicate and that are able to process lunar soil. 

Of course, the latter seems like something from a fantasy novel now. Still, technological progress has been tremendous in the past decades when it comes to 3D printing technology and 3D printer software so that it might be our very normal reality in the next decade. 

Construction Industry 

There has been a great development in the construction industry with innovative 3D printing technologies. 

It has been possible for a while now to print parts of buildings, like doors, walls and even floors, as well as full houses. 

There are even full buildings being 3D printed, the first one of which went up in Denmark, but the biggest, of course, in Dubai.  

A lot of the 3D printed houses have been constructed in the 3rd world countries, as it is much more affordable housing combined with high-speed construction time, as you can import already printed parts, and simply assemble them on sight. 

Consumer Industry 

The footwear, accessories, clothes, jewellery, you name it, use 3D printers for mainstream, large scale manufacturing and the numbers look very promising. 

Eyewear, for example, is estimated to become a 3.4 billion-dollar industry by 2028, based solely on the 3D printing technology.  

Adidas and other companies are already making their footwear using 3D printers. 

The use of 3D printers is only predicted to grow, as the production quality increases and the investments and manufacturing time decreases. 

Today, you can even buy a 3D printed reproduction of famous paintings, that will look much more realistic, than a printed reproduction, as it adds texture to it, making it more real-like.  

Home use

As much as production industries have adopted the 3D printing technology and mastered it, home use of 3D printers is also on the rise. 

There are no real limits to the imagination when it comes to the growing minds of our younger generation. 

If your kids are interested in making their own things, rather than conforming to the realities, we have today. If you want to encourage their creativity and curiosity, there is no better way then getting them a 3D printer. 

There are ones that are very affordable, simple in use and are ideal for home use, even leaving your teenagers with it unsupervised, won’t be a big problem. There are ones that are compatible with organic filaments and do not emit any harmful fumes or other substances. 

You can have 3D printed toys right out of your kid’s mind. Not only that, but you can also easily have a vase in the exact shape you want, a keyholder, a bowl, cell phone or tablet holder and so on. 

They are of course smaller in size, compatible with mostly only plastic filaments and only some support multi-colour printing but are affordable, have easy-to-use 3D printer software and can support the needs of creating toys, moulds, models and such. 

Educational use 

As the students are the ones that will lead industries tomorrow, create innovation and only better all the processes and change standards, they must be familiar with the most modern technologies and know them in and out, to be able to invent, innovate and modernise production. 

3D printers are widely used in the classroom, especially for dental, architectural, engineering and other departments’ students, that need to test their theories, make models to showcase and make sure their theories work in the real world. 

The days that students had to make their models by hand in the lab is over. Now, creating the CAD model and printing it has enabled for shorter design time, easily troubleshot blueprints and fast created prototypes. 

Also, knowing the software and tools, which needs to be used for such new technology as 3D printers, is crucial, as they need to create the models right in the software, and not waste time transforming the paper blueprint into the digital world. 

Parting words 

As you can see, 3D printing has a vast potential that is important not for the big production industries, but also for the small, everyday uses thighs, that, hopefully, will make our lives easier and more fun, giving a personal spin on everyday things, like printing a phone case of your design, printing a key chain as a present and so on. 

The effects of technology are controversial at times, and each has its pros and cons, but 3D printing, has definitely revolutionised the way we see materials, manufacturing processes and has enabled us to set ambitious goals and reach them, as there are numerous materials and printing technologies, that can accommodate even the most demanding individuals. 

Thus, do not be afraid or reserved to introduce a 3D printer to your child, or students, as this technology is here to stay and make sure they are armed with the necessary knowledge to flourish using it in the future. 

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Which is the Right 3D Printer for You

3D printing specialist

Are you looking for the right 3D printer for you? Whether you need it for personal, educational or business use, they have come in as lifesavers and made the manufacturing process much more exciting and manageable. They have come in to help minimize mistakes in the manufacturing industry and enhance customization.

However, there are a variety of 3D printer kits in the market for you to choose from. Some are made for beginners while some are best if you are already an expert in using the machine. In this article, I will be guiding you on selecting the best 3D printer that will suit all your needs and budget.

You will get a guide on why you need to get a one and help you select the best 3D printer for personal use. Let’s have a comparison of the different printers.

3D printer models come with a range of benefits, and apart from the common ones that they help you save money and time, there are lots of ways in which you can use these machines to better your life. If you are wondering whether you should get one for personal use or you are not sure if you need one, here are some ways in which it could be a lifesaver.

Make money – Did you know that 3D printers are a potential source of income? You are probably looking to increase your revenue and earn more besides what you get from your primary job. Getting it is a perfect way to make some extra money at the comfort of your home. You can use it to process 3D prints for people then sell them remotely or online. This will help you get your printing skills to perfection while making extra bucks out of it. Other than the prints, you can make money by teaching people how to use the printer itself at a small fee.

Educate your kids – Technology is always advancing, and it can only be best if you help your kids keep up with the changes. There are new ways of doing things now, and learning using 3D printing technology is one of them. This kind of learning is fun, interesting, and engaging. Naturally, you may wonder, what can you make with a 3d printer at home? For example, you can print items such as educational models to help you illustrate different concepts. Take an example of planets or atoms. These are among the models that you can make; rest assured that whatever the kids from them will stick in their minds. It is a perfect way of empowering the kids to understand concepts and stick with them quickly.

For games and puzzles – If you are a lover of games, then you understand just how good it feels to have a range of your favorite games right at your access. If you do not wish to use your 3D printer for financial gains, then you can use it as a hobby. You can use it to create a range of unique designs and fun objects that you can use with your family to solve puzzles. This will not only help you enjoy your favorite games but also, it gives you a chance to better your skills and master new ones. It is an excellent way of spending your free time maybe after work or on weekends.

Now that you know that you need a 3D printer, it is time to select one that will suit your needs. Below are some of the common personal 3D printers and their features to help you decide which one is best for you.

Anet A6 3D printer

If you are a fan of 3D technology, there is no doubt that you have noticed the increasing popularity of Anet A6 printers. The printer is famous for a range of reasons, the main one being that it is wallet-friendly. The A6 printer is an entry-level 3D printer that is excellent for both beginners and advanced users who are looking for a way to customize and put a personal touch on their products. This printer is highly recommendable for personal use due to its affordability and the fact that you can use it to perfect your skills. If you are new to this and looking for the perfect machine to help you create fun designs and print outs to help you make some extra money, this is the right printer for you. It comes with a range of attractive features such as open source, a revamped design and has a build area. Ideally, Anet A6 3D printer is the best for individuals who are looking for a low budget 3D printer that lets them customize and personalize their printing while offering a large print bed so they can print as much as they want and from this, it is clear that it is a good investment if you want to print items to sell.

Anet A8 3D printer

The main reason why people love this printer is due to its excellent performance, which makes it great both for the beginners and 3D experts. However, the printer can be such a challenge when it comes to assembling and building it up, but its printing capacity is A1. This is unexpected considering that it is super affordable and among the cheapest. When you consider the price, and it’s surprisingly high printing capacity and quality, it is hard to leave this printer behind. However, the main downside is trying to figure out how to assemble it, especially if you have not done that before. The assembling process is not only complicated for beginners but also, its calibration takes a certain stoicism level. This is an excellent 3D printer if you are looking to make printer outs and unique designs for sale. It allows you to make quality designs that will definitely attract buyers attention. Also, you can use it for educational purposes whereby you can teach people how to use it at a fee or make printouts to teach your kids some school concepts. It comes with super amazing features such as 3D enhancements that let you customize the print. What’s more? It is super affordable and the performance is super amazing. You would not need to break the bank to acquire it for home use.

Geeetech A10 3D printer

For anyone looking for a classy but straightforward machine, this one’s for you. The price is affordable, but the specs are amazing. It has come in to beat most of the high-tech 3D printers as most individuals find it convenient, flexible, and affordable. It has a great build volume and does not require expertise to use. If it is your first time using a 3D printer and you wish to use it to learn new skills, this one will do. The best part is that it comes with a slicer to ensure that you do not make mistakes even in your first project. With a few hundred dollars, you can get your hands on this machine and make a living out it. You can also use it for games and fun at home and also let your kids learn a thing or two from it. Its flexibility allows you to make a range of designs and you can therefore take advantage of that to come up with numerous print outs for sale. You can actually create a website or advertise your products on social media platforms, let people make their orders online and make them to their specifications. Make your life more interesting as you make extra bucks from this.

Geeetech A20M Mix-color 3D printer

For an exciting and well-built 3D printer structure, this is the machine for you. The best part about this printer is its classic and easy-to-built design. The device is specifically designed to give users an uninterrupted view, thus giving them an exciting and enriching experience. It entails a super safe power supply which makes it safe to use at home and around kids. Also, it has a mix-color printing, which you can take advantage of to come up with unique and beautiful designs for sale. People are going to love your print outs due to uniqueness, which will, in return, help you maximize your sales. You can also take advantage of its large printing feature to come up with large items, either for sale or for display in your home. Even better; you can take advantage of the fantastic features to come up with great learning models and make your children’s learning worthwhile. This printer is the go-to choice if you are looking for a high-edge 3D printer, but you cannot reach the price. Although it is not as big, it is a dual extruder 3D printer with a single nozzle, and sturdy base and the price is quite attractive. Compared to other Geeetech printers, A20M, is in the middle in terms of price. It is quite bigger and more expensive than A10M, but if you use it correctly, the 3D printer price will be worth it, and you will be able to get the returns even before you know it.

Anycubbic Photon 3D printer

Resin 3D printers have become a buzz with more and more consumers loving their performance and specs. People are in love with the 3D printer’s printing capacity and affordable prices, and Anycubic Photon is one of the hits in the market. Its price is slightly below $500, which is quite a steal, especially for home use. Users can print a lot with it, and if used correctly, the profits are incredibly impressive. Imagine if you can use this to make $10 per day. You will have your money back in less than two months, and the best part is that the more you use it, the more you can perfect your skills. In a matter of three months, you will be in a position to make high-end designs with it and will have loads of orders coming your way.  Photon 3D printer is the ideal choice for anyone in search of an educational printing machine or a 3D printer to help them make extra cash at the comfort of their homes.

Anycubic Chiron 3D printer

For a flexible, convenient, and large 3D printer, Anycubic Chiron is the best choice for you. It features the best bed to make your printing experience the best. Of all the Anycubic printers, Chiron could be the winner in terms of speed and functionality. It is quite expensive, but it is all for the right reasons. Its HUGE Ultrabase print bed is what makes it a buzz not to mention the incredibly great control and intelligence.

If you are looking for a large-sized, intelligent, safe, and fast operation home 3D printer, then this one got you covered. You can use this machine for educational purposes as well to help you make designs for sale and for displaying at your house.

These are the top reviewed 3D printers that you can choose from. When choosing the right 3D printer for you, it is wise that you put some factors into consideration. For starters, check the features and usability. Does it require expertise to use? If you are a beginner, go for a straightforward machine that you can comfortably handle. The next thing to check is the features. Ensure that the features match what you are looking for. Check if it is safe. The other and most important element to check is the cost. Make sure that you can comfortably afford to buy whichever 3D printer you choose.

These are the top 3D printers that you can choose to make your experience while at home super amazing and improve your living. You can find them at Amazon or specialized 3D printer shops like 3D Printer World at the best price offers and get started with your earning. The most recommended way to get your 3D printer is by purchasing it at a specialized shop. This way, you will have access to expert customer support, and they can guide you on how to choose the best printer that will meet your exact needs and budget. All the best!

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3D printed toys from your child’s imagination

people discussing 3D printing

Child’s imagination is endless, limitless, so creative that most adults would dream about such a wonder. Kids come up with the craziest ideas for games. Back in the day, it would have to stop there, or you would have to have a very dedicated and creative parent as well, to sit with you and build a ship or a car. And believe us, that wasn’t easy and sometimes you didn’t have the parts you need, so you had to improvise and make it work with what you have. Some people still argue that creativity and ingenuity blossom in such conditions. What do you think? Are handmade toys better than ones created with technology in your living room? 

Today the technology has gone so far, that many things are accessible for the general public, like 3D printers, when 20 years ago they were mainly used for industrial purposes. Today anyone can buy 3D printer, and make whatever they want on it – a vase, a bowl for fruits, a bracelet, the list goes on and on. There is even such a thing as 3D printing for children and there are special kid-friendly printers, with simple design software and ease in use. 

Some parents’ job is made easier with a kids 3D printer when you can have the toy right out of your kid’s imagination – a car that has squares for wheels, a helicopter, that is also a submarine, a Barbie dress, that is designed by your little princess and so on. It is also a great source of learning practical implications of engineering and math, it is engaging and makes learning so much more fun!

Let’s look a little closer at the history of 3D printing, which is much older than one can imagine. 

Overview of 3D Printing

3D printers: a bit of history

First, let’s see what are 3D printers and what they can do.  

The first one was invented in the mid-1980s by an American scientist Charles W. Hull. and it was used to print medical aid and medical parts. The technology used in the first 3D printer was stereolithography, which transforms digital data into tangible objects. First, you need to create the 3D digital model, so, later on, you can transform it into a live model.  

Later on, between 1990-2010 3D printing was used widely in medicine to print human organs, and mainstream 3D printing was introduced. Nowadays, 3D printing is aimed at making cars, aircraft, even affordable housing for developing countries. Of course, it is not ideal yet, however, all these projects will surely be perfected and implemented soon.

3D printing technologies

Let’s talk a bit about the different technologies used in 3D printing. Taking into account the evolution of technologies in general and 3D printing in particular, these days there are so many different ways to 3D print your desired object.

Despite what one might think, not all them out there work with the same mechanism.  

The first 3D printing process was Vat Polymerization, which includes such technologies as Stereolithography (SLA) and Digital Light Processing (DLP).  Those printers are commonly used to print hearing aids, in dental work and jewellery.

Another process is powder bed fusion – metal and polymers. This process is used in Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) printers, which sinter polymers, and is commonly used to print functional parts and hollow objects.  

Metal 3D printers or 3D printing technologies that use metal powder bed fusion process include Selective Laser Melting (SLM) and Electron-Beam Melting (EBM). Those are used to make functional metal parts in automotive and aerospace industries, as well as medical.

Another common process for this technology is material extrusion, and for example, Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technology operates with it, and the parts printed are mainly used in fixtures and jigs, electronic housings, fit and form testing and so on.

There is a jetting process, that is also used in different 3D printing technologies. There are 2 main types of jetting: Binder Jetting (used for casting, full-colour models and metal parts) and Material Jetting that also include Drop on Demand (DOD) technology (used to create medical models, product prototypes in full colour and so on).

We will not go any further in detail about all these different technologies and processes used to create 3D printed objects since they really matter only to professionals that are trying to make functional parts for sale or their own use.

When it comes to printing toys: existing or completely invented by your very creative and inventive child, the process doesn’t really matter, but what matters is the safety, affordability and the size of the 3D printer, that you decide to get for your household.

Price and speed

All these technologies listed above are similar yet different in materials they use, how fast they can print the desired object, the quality of the product they produce and how much they cost. Each of these technologies is also used in specific industries, taking into account the type of objects they produce best and the needs of the industry itself.

When it comes to 3D printer cost, it varies from $200 to several thousand dollars for a high-end machine.  

While industrial printers are the fastest, giving up to 1000 millimetres per second, the average consumer 3D printer for home use prints at a speed range of 50-100 mm/s. The slower speed will give you higher quality in the end product.

3D printer for kids

Why you need a 3D printer for your child

Technology has made its way to our everyday life so much that teaching the kids technology early on is a good idea, to give them an advantage and a kick start in our highly competitive world. And when do learning, building, and technology come together? Yes, you are right, in a 3D printer, that is mainstream enough today, that families can afford to buy them for their children for educational purposes or simply for fun!

Sometimes children want toys that are too expensive or they want so many of them, that buying is just not an option anymore. Also, when you think about it, even though there is a sea of different toys available for purchase, sometimes your child wants something so very specific, that is unfortunately just not out there for you to buy. Here is where 3D printed toys come in.

They are also a perfect purchase for families with very creative children when they love to invent and build things. Plus, it teaches them to think through all the details before building, since if your 3D digital model has a flaw or error, your printed object will have the same flaws or simply won’t come out the way you expected it.

When it comes to choosing the best 3D printer for kids, there are many things to consider.

Safety

When we think about our kids in combination with any kind of machine or technology, the first thing that comes to mind is safety. No matter what we buy for them, no matter what they want to play with, the most important thing for any parent is the safety of their child.

The most crucial rule to follow when operating a 3D machine – NEVER, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES LEAVE YOUR CHILD ALONE WITH IT! It is not a toy and can be quite dangerous if not properly used.

When it comes to a kids 3D printer, safety issues are threefold.

Firstly, there are the materials used to print. There are some printers that can create an object using edible materials, playdough, clay and so on. However more often than not plastic is used for 3D printed kids toys. Most often used ones are ABS and PLA plastics. PLA is a non-toxic bioplastic and ABS is the plastic used in making LEGO blocks.

Secondly, printed toys can pose a hazard themselves. The printers can be used to create dangerous objects, however danger for kids come from printing small and sharp objects as well. Thus making a 3D printed toy a choking hazard, or a sharp object, making it a stabbing hazard. Another hazard can come from the fumes that the printers make since they use a great amount of heat to melt or fuse the plastic. So make sure to use non-toxic plastic raw materials when choosing toys to print and make sure that space is well ventilated.

Thirdly, if you choose a DIY or a Kickstarter 3D printer kit UK has to offer, you will most likely have to assemble it yourself and the small parts can pose a threat as well. They are not toys to be played with, thus need to be kept away from the reach of children.

3D printers made for kids vs. normal 3D printers

There are printers that are made specifically for children which means that they are safer than normal ones. However even those are not toys themselves, so again, do not leave your children alone with them.

Kids 3D printers usually come in enclosed casings, they offer a much simpler design software, which is easy to use for beginners and kids. Another big plus of those printers is that they use much lower temperatures to extrude filament. You will surely find a perfect 3D printer for sale, out of the sea of them out there.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? However, those printers are also very limited in the materials that they can use to create the object. No glow in the dark, sparkling alumide or recycled water-resistant PET filament. Most of them also come with limited designing software, which is not what you want for your creative, imagination-run-wild child.

On the other hand, the normal printers offer a much bigger variety or filament, as well as end products. Always think about what you want to make in those printers and the size of the objects you want to have in the end.

Best 3D printed toys

As we already know, there is pretty much nothing that 3D technology can’t print for you and your child to enhance their creativity and imagination. The implications in the house of such a machine are great since they cannot only create objects that are for play but also objects used in the house, like personalized cups, plates, bowls. Your child can also prepare presents for the family and friends for holidays, which are custom made, special, and are the fruit of their imagination. Wouldn’t you want a cup that says “#1 Mom” or a necklace that spells the same thing for Mother’s day?

Some ideas for 3D printed toys include robots, legos, dolls, drone parts, customized toy cars, bottle rockets and so on.

Another way to go is to create and design your object – a musical instrument, a monster or, for that matter, anything else that comes to mind.

Which 3D printer to choose?

We have discussed many different options that are available on the market today and it is up to you to make a decision which one is the best budget 3D printer UK has to offer?

There are many options to choose from and you need to weigh all pros and cons before deciding to get one and see which one would be the best 3D printer for children in your particular case and household and which 3D printer shop uk you need to visit.  

Decide on your price range first and go from there. Choose the one that fits your needs when it comes to speed and precision, as you see that they vary drastically in that department. Some are more professional, some are homemade, whereas others are more kid-friendly.

Here you have all the information you need to make an informed and well-thought decision on which would be your first 3D printer for kids. Just know that whatever you choose, it would do a great job in printing children’s toys and will drastically enhance your children’s creative thinking, imagination, and personality by adding a bit of extra flair to their toys through personalizing them and combining learning with pleasure.

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3D Printing – A Comprehensive Guide To The Rise of 3D Prototyping

3D printed red dinosaur

3D Printing used to be something of a craze, a short-lived infatuation that was never predicted to become dependency on reality. However, the development of its technology is now becoming essential to the overall manufacturing business. The biggest brands and companies within manufacturing operations are now increasingly dependent and prominent on adopting the 3D Printing industry, due to its increased accessibility and advancement to mass-produce products and there is more scope of what companies expect.

Its popularity has risen exponentially personally and professionally for the past two to three years and is now thought of as an efficient production method for business and operations.

When Was 3D Printing First Heard Of?

3D printing was first known back in the 1980s with the name of “Additive Manufacturing”. No matter what kind of printer you use, a ceramic 3D printer, a 3D laser printer, objects are firstly created from a digital file and then the printer develops and places subsequent layers of material to complete the object. Thermoplastic material is used most in particular which is heated plastic that turns to liquid and solidifies once cooled. It is expected that further materials will be identified that are edible within its development for 3D printing. It is now a common operation used in various stages of mass production.

What Are the Benefits Of 3D Printing?

There are many benefits for businesses to use the 3D Printing industry for prototyping. Although it is often determined that this method is generally used for small-scale solutions, its technology is important for prototyping of products, something that has been utilized for a number of years. Some of its benefits include:

  • Swift Turnaround Upon Request and Delivery – The availability of quality 3D printers allows for the creation of various prototypes for product designs in a shorter timeframe.
  • A Reduction in Costs – The process reduces cost and still allows businesses to meet their demand and objectives.
  • A Wide-Range of Material Choice – The wide range of materials that can be used continues to exponentially grow. Various materials can be used and tested for the production of their parts.
  • Simple and Swift Adaption in Its Iteration – A prototype is not created and used in its first instance. The products used are typically tested and revised before finalization.
  • Speed of Production – Additive manufacturing is faster to develop than traditional manufacturing methods. This, in turn, helps with rapid verification and development. Prototypes usually took ages to design and develop.

Time is money with 3D prototyping. The faster your testing of solutions is complete, the faster the production line. 3D printing has now become an essential technology. There is a low cost of labour as the majority of the printers nowadays only require the press of a button to produce the part with its automatic process.

The 3D Printing Process

Even nowadays, 3D technology in a practical sense is still difficult to understand in regard to what real-world objects look like within all of its glory. Within manufacturing, companies that use 3D printer kits are required to demonstrate finishing products, also known as a prototype, the use of a testing procedure of materials and its final development without utilizing valuable materials.

Scott Crump's original 1980s FDM printer design from US Patent 5,121,329.
  • Step 1 – Preparation: The preparation part before printing is the first step. This is the design of the file that needs printing. CAD software is available to develop the prototypes which can be obtained safely online.
  • Step 2 – The Printing: The second step consists of the printing process. The identification of the materials to use for its testing is the first step immediately before the printing begins. Choose from materials such as plastics, ceramics, metals and other textiles. They are all capable of re-use for its testing to develop that all-finished product.  
  • Step 3 – The Finish – The object is printed and now needs a polish before it can be delivered or presented to customers or clients. You may sand or paint a product to give it that final polishing look.

The Common Types of 3D Printing Technology and Processes

Additive Technologies is the common name used for the vast amount of technology available for 3D printing. Methods typically range from melting or softening the material to extrude layers. There are five popularly-used methods for 3D prototyping:

  1. Stereolithography (SLA) – The most commonly used technology which employs ultraviolet curable photopolymer resin and an ultraviolet laser. These elements help to build the object’s layers sequentially. Each sequential layer has a laser beam traced a cross-section of the part pattern on the surface of the liquid resin. The ultraviolet laser light helps to solidify the traced pattern on the resin to join it to the next underlying layer. Parts can be fitted with an existing design or plastic prototypes can be printed fresh. The plastic hardens before moving into the next layer. Once all printed, the item is put into an ultraviolet oven to complete the process.
  2. Digital Light Processing (DLP) – Also known as DLP is a printing method used with light and photosensitive polymers. An identical process to stereolithography, however, the difference is the source of the light where DLP’s usually use arc lamps. Each sequential layer is projected on liquid resin where each layer is consolidated as it moves up and down in direction. DLP is thought of as the quickest form of printing as it processes each underlying layer.
  3. Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) – A build plate is used to form parts for every sequential layer, one at a time. A laser is used to sinter the power media. The advantage is that there are no supporting structures needed as it is fully functional on its own.
  4. Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) – FDM is currently the most popular choice of technology method for 3D printing. High in performance, it’s beneficial for engineers and manufacturers due to the components where engineering-grade thermoplastic can be used. Sequential layers are constructed individually from bottom to top. The plastic layer melts and hardens appropriately and moves onto the next layer.  Very useful for prototyping.
  5. Selective Laser Melting – SLM requires specific conditions for successful results. This is a technique which uses high-power laser beams to produce 3D objects. It also helps melt metallic powders. It is usually thought of as a second-hand SLS to melt the material to a solid-dimensional 3D shape. This form is more a preferred method for parts which are extremely durable, strong and complex and the results are ideal and supportive for aerospace, automotive and medical industries.  

So, what are the most common real-life examples of 3D printed prototypes? These examples have been thrown-in as “competition winners”. Competitors must be taken advantage of and it is these example prototypes that are classed as an innovative technology for exceptional manufacturing quality.

Car Racing Prototyping

3D Prototypes are efficient in helping car companies speed up the process of wheel changing within races. Team Penske is an example of being involved within the car industry for more than 50 years that specialise in stocking cars and wheels for racing teams. Winning races requires speed and efficiency, and Additive Manufacturing is what was necessary to stay ahead. Speed of production is essential for automotive manufacturing for its productivity at a lower cost due to mass customisation. For example, the BMW Additive Manufacturing team is now managing more than 25,000 orders every year of 3D printed prototypes. These are manufactured at a rate of almost 100,000 components within BMW.

Jewellery Prototyping

The manufacturing of jewellery transforms into the design of jewellery products. 3D files are printed in plastic before the metals are requested for development of the products. From testing to production, 3D printing increases its efficiency and speed of development with its rapid prototyping concepts. Most common materials used for designers within jewellery is metal. 3D Printing materialises the following materials to develop its products: Brass (Gold, colour and PU plating), Silver (Gloss and high gloss, satin, sandblasted and antique) and Gold (14k or 18k and polishing).

Motorcycle Prototyping

Additive manufacturing 3D printing plays a key role within the production of motorcycles, in particular, electric motorcycles. The process checks the visuals of the design and the parts are printed in full scale. This demonstrates that 3D printing uses additive manufacturing to assist in the reliability of its production right from the generation of the idea to its development. An example development is a firm BigRep created FDM printed 3D electric motorcycles, with its production line reduced to 12 weeks.

Eyewear Prototyping

Eyewear benefits from Additive Manufacturing with the use of different materials for the production of its glasses. The prototypes speed up the production process. The eyewear industry is now growing in demand due to the mass customisation element of 3D printing technology. It is expected to generate billions of dollars every year due to mass customisation. Its production uses power bed fusion for its internal parts and for a smoother surface finish.

Architecture Prototyping

Rapid prototyping is routinely used within architectural companies to save money. It helps initiate the functional, social and artistic properties of projects. Architecture realizes beautiful design and innovation for the development of new things. A model can be tangibly created in any form. It helps build complex shapes for high-detailed designs including interiors and environmental elements and use laser cutting for large floor surfaces. Designers are more prone to using 3D printers to accelerate the design process with faster iterative design. Examples of high-quality architectural prototypes include exterior living and entertainment space such as swimming pools with multiple types of raw material including metal and polyamide. Thus, metal 3D printer helps to construct structural elements accurate for buildings.

Furniture Prototyping

The design process of manufacturing required significant investment. Using 3D printing technology drastically  reduces costs and fast-streamlines the design of products. This helps designers maximise creations and is a sustainable mean to create furniture. With additive manufacturing, designers are able to produce visual models rapidly. It enables companies to focus on crucial aspects of furniture design such as aesthetics, ergonomics and structure. Models such as lightweight chairs and tables, armrests, lamp bases are basic functional requirements and it is the furniture aspects listed which will be used as the driving force in the design of its basic models.

Dental Prototyping

3D printing has revolutionized the dental industry. Dental 3D printers have helped develop applications to fix broken teeth and assist with flossing. Stereolithography is the most common form of 3D printing used with different resin materials. It has helped with the development and design of aligners and night guards, using 3D printing to model a patient’s teeth. It also helps create crowns with resin and CNC technology to carve the porcelain out. The length of processing has significantly reduced from several weeks of development to one hour at a lower cost.

Conclusion

This report aims to illustrate a concrete definition of the 3D Printing industry and how it has become a phenomenon in the global manufacturing business. 3D printing has an old-fashioned name known as “Additive Manufacturing”, which is a process of producing 3-dimensional objects through a digital (or CAD) file. It was a mere dream before technology began to take over operations as a means of maintaining a competitive advantage. Technology is essential to manufacturing business and is a huge dependency on brands and companies and the way they operate for the development of its products. The benefits of 3D Printing have been broadly explained in the report. Briefly, this includes operations that are able to create various prototypes for product designs in a short timeframe upon request all at lower costs. Various materials are continuously being used for testing pre-production. Due to 3D printing technology, prototypes sped up in their development which allows for more time to update designs based on recommendations faster. The common 3D prototypes used within organizations is explained along with the elements used. It is proven that Stereolithography (SLA) and Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) are the two popular common choices of the production line for manufacturers, due to its high performance and the ability for materials to be developed for a wide range of industries such as engineering, furniture and medical. Real-life examples of the key industries which use 3D printing are explained along with theoretical examples who mock production lines to demonstrate the type of products developed. The 3D printing industry is  currently very young within its development in the manufacturing production line. Companies are only now looking at how it will be embedded within their strategy and where to buy a 3D printer. Although companies have invested in 3D printing on a limited scale, there is potential within it, but it currently remains hidden and is still growing as an option. Business leaders must determine how this technology will be invested within their business model, knowing a competitive advantage that it will bring.