A term that you may hear a lot in today’s world is 3D printing, so what exactly is it?
3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is the technique of creating three-dimensional solid items from a computer file. Additive manufacturing technologies are used to create 3D printed objects. An object is built in an additive technique by laying down successive layers of material until the object is complete. Each of these layers can be viewed as a cross-section of the item that has been lightly cut. When compared to traditional production methods, 3D printing allows you to create complicated shapes with less material.
To start 3D printing, you will need some type of 3D software. There are numerous software applications available. From commercial to open source, there’s something for everyone. An entry-level application for 3D printing is TinkerCAD®. It is a free browser-based application, so there is no software that you need to install on your computer. The software uses an easy-to-understand block-building idea to let you create models from a set of basic forms. Users can choose shapes that suit them best and manipulate them as they wish thanks to a library of literally millions of files. It also features direct connectivity with third-party printing services, allowing you to print and have it delivered to your door at the touch of a button. It’s an excellent approach to learn about 3D modeling, even if it’s a little too simplistic to the point of limiting.
If you’re printing at home, once you complete your model, it will need to be sliced. This is the process of transforming your 3D model into hundreds if not thousands of layers that the printer can recognize. You then can transfer the sliced file to the printer via USB, SD card, or over Wi-Fi.
3D printing adoption has reached critical mass, with those that have yet to include additive manufacturing into their supply chain joining an ever-dwindling minority. In its early phases, 3D printing was only suited for prototype and one-off manufacturing, but it is rapidly evolving into a production technique. The majority of present 3D printing demand is for industrial purposes.
It is expected by 2026 that the 3D printing market will reach $41 billion USD.