3D Printing has played a big role in bringing in new ideas to enable designers to realize their ideas into physical products in both fast and economical way. This technology has made manufacturers more creative and iterative. Not just design, even the manufacturing processes are going much more efficient, agile carrying enormous probability of customization and flexibility. 3D CAD designs now-a-days take no time to transform from the CAD screen to an existing body by just pushing a button.
How does it work??
Getting the shape:
Fit and form models, which are printed in assembly manner, are made of various consumable material options. Once any object is scanned in three dimensions, all the measurements are enlisted by keeping dots signifying the entire surface of the object with proper locus. This becomes possible because of the in building 3d-geometry logistics of the scanner. Once all the dots are saved, the shape is ready to be printed.
Formation of the object:
Once the template is prepared it is filled with durable and hard polymers. FDM (Fused Deposition Modelling), Selective Laser Melting (SLM) and Poly-jet technology is the most used technologies to give existence to the scanned shape by filling in the template with different chemicals as per requirement or mode of use. Following is the brief description of the mentioned technologies.
- FDM Technology: This technology builds three dimensional figures by forging a fine thermoplastic filament through a heated liquor. The process goes layer by layer and it freezes instantly by the deposition process. Since it is associated with the soluble support technology, even complex designs can be extruded. The material is strong, durable and good enough to survive several mechanical, chemical or thermal testing. This is mostly used for complex designs.
- Poly-jet technology: This one provides highly accurate and smooth surface quality of the parts. Poly-jet uses the proven ink jetting technology along with photo polymer resin as the material to form objects. Once the shape is finalized, this also forms the structure layer by layer jetting on a build tray and cured by the UV light which leads to highly detailed parts on the surface. It has the option of combining two or more materials and colours which gives a varying mechanical and physical properties.
- Selective Laser Melting (SLM): This technology is used to produce the metal parts of high density and strength. It uses the melt pool technology along with lasers and metal powder. The process takes place in a chamber of inert gas so that the oxidation level is regulated. The process starts with heating the powder bed to extreme temperatures to get optimal melting. Meanwhile, the laser scans the cross section of the body based on a number of sliced parameters. Each time a layer is done, a new layer of powder is spread over it which is further melted on the previous layer and follows the similar process until the complete shape is reached. The metals used to form the object are aluminium, titanium, stainless steel and many other light weight alloys.
Although it is newly introduced technology, it took no time to invoke ideas among the industries, on how it can be used in various industries. Industries like automobile manufacturers, toy makers, many of the home appliance makers, etc. have the big area to use his technology to explain design in a way better approach which is free from CAD or any complex softwares and expensive set ups. It is considered that this technology can replace the business of ceramics, ornaments at times, which is accepted and trustworthy as well.