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Digitize the Manufacturing – A Technical Review on 3D Printing

Abstract:

The invention of 3D printing technology has impacted millions of people’s life. In this article, 3D Printing Technology and its various impactful applications are briefly reviewed. By successively adding materials layer by layer this process builds a Three Dimensional Model which can be customised and used in various places as per requirements. Thus, this process is called additive manufacturing.  

Introduction:

The 3D Printing technology is used to build a 3 Dimensional object by adding material layer by layer successively (additive manufacturing) from a computer-aided design model. This technology covers a variety of processes in which a specific material is joined or solidified under computer control to create a 3D object. As the precision, repeatability, and material range have increased to the point that 3D Printing processes are considered viable as an industrial-production technology.

“I believe in the near future we will 3D print our buildings and houses.”—Neri Oxman

Creation of Printable Models:

Computer-Aided Design package is used to create a 3D Printable Model as well as 3D Scanner, Digital Camera and Photography Software are also used for creating models. The manual modelling process of preparing geometrical data for 3D computer graphics is similar to sculpting. While the 3D scanning is a method of collecting digital data & creating a digital model based on the shape, appearance and geometry of a real object. Errors of 3D printable models can be identified and corrected before printing.

There are two types of file format available for CAD models: 1. Stereolithography file format (STL) and 2. Additive Manufacturing file format (AMF).

Printing Process:

Before printing a 3D model from an STL file, it must first be examined for errors. Most CAD applications produce errors in output STL files of the following types:

  • Holes
  • Faces Normals
  • Self-Intersections
  • Noise Shells
  • Manifold Errors

The “Repair” step of STL generation fixes such problems in the original model as 3D Scanning and 3D reconstruction often include errors. Then the STL files are processed by a piece of software called “slicer” which converts the model into a series of thin layer and produces a G-Code. The G-Code file contains instructions tailored to a specific type of 3D Printers generally FDM Printers. This G-Code file can be printed now with the help of a 3D Printing client software. Layer thickness and X-Y resolution in dpi are described using Printer Resolution. Typical Layer thickness is 250 dpi (100 µm) and 3D dots (particles) are around 510 to 250 dpi (50-100 µm in diameter).

Construction of a 3D Printed Model can take from several hours to several days, depending on the method used and the size and complexity of the model. Additive system can typically reduce this printing time in a few hours depending on the type of machine used and the size and number of the models being produced simultaneously.

Materials Used:

3D printing generally focused on polymers for printing but nowadays with the help of developed machines and modern technology we can also use ceramics and metals as materials. Using CIMP-3D we also can perform 3D printing with multiple materials. 

Conclusion:

In 2020, 3D Printing, as well as Additive Manufacturing, is used in medical, manufacturing, industrial etc. sectors. We can observe the application of this technology in the humanitarian and development sector to produce a range of medical items, prosthetics, spares and repairs. Additive manufacturing of food is being developed by squeezing out food layer by layer into 3D objects. 3D printing experiments are done by fashion designers to produce 3D printed dresses and shoes. So, this technology is becoming more and more essential element of the modern age.

References:

IETE Technical Review, Wikipedia,  MDN

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Written by Dipanjan-Guchait

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