3D printing is a form of additive manufacturing technology where a three dimensional object is created by laying down successive layers of material. 3D printers are generally faster, more affordable and easier to use than other additive manufacturing technologies. 3D printers offer product developers the ability to print parts and assemblies made of several materials with different mechanical and physical properties in a single build process. Advanced 3D printing technologies yield models that closely emulate the appearance and functionality of product prototypes.
A 3D printer works by taking a 3D computer file and using and making a series of cross-sectional slices. Each slice is then printed one on top of the other to create the 3D object. Read more on Wikipedia.
Printing objects in plastic
The simple and cheaper way to printing an object in 3D is using plastic. There are affordable and Open Source 3D printers and tools on the market.
You will need to follow the next steps to be able to 3D print an object with the OpenSource RepRap 3D printer.
Design a 3D object or download
The pictures shows the design
of a 3D object in FreeCAD.
Another option is to browse and download a 3D object from Thingiverse repositorie.
Convert a STL 3D object file to GCode file
Example of an Android logo
converted by Skeinforge.
Some 3D printers have softwares that converts the STL 3D files to GCode files in a way that user don't see, it's automatically. GCode files are the ones 3D printers like RepRap uses.
A very well know software to convert STL files to GCode is Skeinforge.
Print the 3D object
Finally you can fireup your RepRap 3D printer and run the RepRap software.
You will need to load the STL or GCode files on the software and hit the print button
3D printer Block diagram
- Electronic Board: The brains of the machine. It process the G-code and calculate the appropriate motion of stepper motors.
- Stepper motors: there are 3 for each axis and 1 more for extruder.
- Extruder: Have one motor to push plastic wire and a heating element to melt the plastic, as well a temperature sensor.
- Heated bead: helps reducing warping effect on plastic piece being printed.
- PC that run special SW that convert a 3D object file (*.stl) on 2D layers (G-code) and send them to electronic board.