The Buzz about 3D Printing

One of largest innovations to hit the printing industry in recent years has been the advent of 3D printing technology. 3D printing does exactly what it sounds like it does; it is the process of making a three-dimensional solid object from a digital model. Essentially, it can build a three-dimensional rendering of whatever a computer program tells it to print. This can come in the form of miniature figurines, scale models of cars, or even large objects the size of cars!

There are a few steps that a 3D printer must take before rendering a specific object. The process must start and end somewhere and there have been years of research and development that has gone into making what seemed impossible only a few years ago, possible today.

The steps of 3D printing include:

  • Modeling- This is the first step in rendering an object three-dimensionally. A blueprint of the object is taken from a computer aided design (CAD) and will be converted into slices, or digital cross-sections for the machine to successively use a guideline for printing. Once the model has been uploaded into the machine, the fun can begin.
  • Printing- The actual printing takes place after the design is read from the software. The machine then lays down successive layers of liquid, powder, or sheet material to build the model from the previously mentioned slices. The thickness of these sections depends on what the machine and the blueprint.
  • Finishing- Depending on the machine and the method, sometimes a slightly larger model is crafted and then cut down to meet the original model found in the computer aided design. Either way, the finished product will be the object that was initially envisioned in the computer program.

This is a huge leap forward in terms of technology and will have many uses in the years to come. 3D printing is still in its infancy and over the years the process will become more and more refined.

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