Introduction to 3D Printing
Find out about 3D printing
3D printers create three dimensional physical objects from digital design files.
While traditional manufacturing might involve carving away unwanted material to create a finished object or maybe pouring molten material into a mould and letting it set into the right shape, 3D printing builds an object from the ground up. It’s a form of additive manufacturing where objects are made by adding material, bit by bit and layer by layer until the ‘print’ is completed.
The different methods generally referred to as 3D printing are fused deposition modelling (FDM), stereolithography (SLA) and selective laser sintering (SLS). There are other methods, however generally when referring to 3D printing you will be talking about a machine that employs one of those three methods. Consumer desktop printers, such as the Ultimaker 3D printers, generally use FDM, which is where filament (including PLA or ABS) is pushed through an extruder head to make objects layer by layer.
You can use 3D scanners to scan physical objects and turn it into digital 3D designs.
Typical desktop 3D printers can usually print in either PLA or ABS filament. PLA is more commonly used as it comes in a wider range of colours and does not require any ventilation in the room. Whereas ABS produces a strong smell that can be toxic so you need to be in a well ventilated room, ABS is however better at withstanding high impacts and can be used in wet locations. Click here to find out all the differences between PLA and ABS filament.