What is 3D Printing?
A brief introduction to the basic principles of 3D printing.
3D printing is a layering process. Material is deposited layer on top of layer until a 3D object is printed. The successive layering process known as 3D printing is sometimes referred to as additive manufacturing.Time lapse of a 3D printed object. Notice how it grows layer by layer.
You might be asking yourself "Why is it called printing? Are a 3D printers at all related to paper printers?" Yes! In fact, there is a close relationship between them, you could even consider your 3D printer a direct descendent of your paper printer.
Copy machines and paper printers print in two dimensions by depositing material on a flat sheet, in this case ink on paper. In math class we would call these two dimensions the X and Y axes.A triangle printed in two dimensions with whipped cream.
A 3D printer works in the same way but adds an additional axis, the Z axis, to print in 3 dimensions.
Each individual layer of a 3D printed object is printed along the X and Y axes. When the 3D printer finishes a layer in the X and Y axes, the print head moves up along the Z axis to begin printing the next layer. To continue with our example, if we continue to draw a triangle on top of a triangle, moving up along the Z axis after completing each layer, we will end up with a 3D object. In this case a delicious whipped cream three-sided pyramid or tetrahedron.Time lapse of a tetrahedron additively made with whipped cream. Notice how each layer builds on top of the last to create a 3D object.
This layering process is how all 3D printers work regardless of differences in material and deposition method. By definition, 3D printing is the process of making a physical object from a digital file by additively layering material.
THOUGHT EXPERIMENTWhat materials can you think of that could be extruded layer by layer to print an object?