Have you heard about the hype around 3D printing? Then, like us, you are most likely thinking that we are really in for a new boom in high-tech manufacturing, with futuristic-style replication on its way to reality. While a lot of these things are true, it is highly important to know what exactly 3D printing is and how you can use it effectively, especially if you think of it as a potential hobby. Here is what you need to know.
Knowing the Basics
In simple terms, 3D printing is a method of creating solid physical objects from digital 3D models, the process of assembly is the same with that of printing ink on paper. It uses 3D printers, with the most popular today being the extrusion printers, which spray/ooze/extrude material (of which base are usually thermoplastic filament) out of manoeuvrable nozzles and lay it down in layers that eventually make for the finished product. Basically, this method of printing is an additive process, which means that it creates objects by adding layers from the bottom up, with every layer being printed over the preceding ones until the job is complete.
While there are many different types of 3D printing materials existing on the market today, the most common for consumers is the filament. It has a thread-like appearance and is heated and extruded through a moving nozzle. It is layered vertically until a 3D object with width, height and depth is formed. If you got your eyes set on 3D printing to enhance your hobby, you should know the various types of filaments. Here are those that are most commonly used in the industry today:
ABS and PLA
Generally, these types of filaments come in a wide variety of colours and used for an array of 3D printed objects for their ease of use, versatile material properties and limited printing difficulty. While ABS and PLA share some overlaps in their qualities, they actually differ, where the former is extremely durable and used for high-impact applications, while the latter is fairly strong and could be more brittle depending on the geometry of the objects.
HIPS and PVA
These are considered as “support” filaments, which help temporarily support the overhanging geometry of objects. Basically, they are the most common support filaments available today, thus primarily utilized with dual extrusion 3D printers.
The appeal of this type of filament is its ability to create objects with the tactile feel of wood. Take note that there are many wood filaments on the market today, with each having a specific mixture of wood and plastic fibres, such as Coconut, Bamboo, Black (Ebony) Pine, Cork and several other tones.
Though this is relatively a new type of filament used for 3D Desktop printing, ceramics has been seeing some levels of success. One important thing to note when using it is related to post printing, where ceramic parts need to pass through the same processes as with any ceramic part that is made using traditional production methods, such as glazing and firing. Ceramic filaments also require a 3D Desktop printer that can achieve high temperatures when melting the filament, several 3D printers on the market today would not be suitable. Though the amazing filament LayBrick can be used on the majority or current 3D Desktop printers from which you can create detailed models.
There have been a growing number of metals used in 3D Desktop printing. The majority of these filaments use very a fine metal powder that is blended into the filament during the manufacturing process. It is worth noting that just because it is a metal powder does not mean that your printed object is going to be super strong, what is can do is add a level of authenticity when producing objects made out of metal filaments and depending on how solid your printed object is could add weight to what otherwise would be an object printed out of plastic. Current types of 3D Desktop metal printing filaments are, Copper, Brass, Bronze, Stainless Steel and Iron.
There are so many hobbies where we can see 3D Desktop printing being of use, especially when filament types are expanding. From candle making to model building, we are certain that 3D Desktop printing could assist you in your endeavours and possibly even enhance your creativity. Check out the all new and super exciting REFLECT-o-LAY.