Three-dimensional printing is becoming more and more popular these days. The practice is much courted in many areas. A 3D printer allows the reproduction of a real object. To better understand it, we will look at its operating principles and its fields of application while focusing on prototyping. In addition to this, a look at the limits and advantages will help us to have a better understanding of 3D technology.
The operating principles of the 3D printer
In the industrial world, 3D printing is also called additive manufacturing. It’s a process based on the creation of physical objects that have been layered with multiple layers from 3D prototyping. This manufacturing is therefore based on the addition of materials. The object is then manufactured by adding successive layers. There are many processes that can be used in additive manufacturing. For example, there is stereolithography, which uses UV light to solidify liquid photopolymers that have been previously placed in a tank. In addition to this, there is also laser sintering, which involves the construction of 3D parts by heating the particles. Another example is direct metal technology in additive production. In addition, there are the processes of using UV light by polyjet and multi-jet, which are similar to stereolithography.
These practices are similar to stereolithography and require different tools such as software, hardware and materials. It is good to note that there is a multitude of materials for 3D printing objects. Resins, plastics, composites, and even metals such as steel, brass, bronze, silver, etc. can be used. It is possible to print many parts or just prototype parts. To better understand 3D printing in the industrial environment, click here.
3D prototyping, also called rapid prototyping, consists in manufacturing the representation of an object allowing its visualization, the validation of its functions and its manufacturing processes. It is a computer-controlled process. The 3D impressions are useful in the realization of these prototypes for risk analysis and for the optimization of the design. For example, in mechanics, they are useful for testing and manufacturing internal parts. As the aim of 3D prototyping is to produce products in a short time, the lead time is small and this saves a lot of time.
Several major technologies can be used in rapid prototyping. But the most common practice is additive manufacturing. In short, it allows the manufacture of solid objects from a digital model. Nevertheless, many methods are based on this technique such as stereolithography based on photopolymerization, lamination, laser sintering or other. But it is worth noting that each process has its own limitations and advantages.
Fields of application of 3D printing
3D printing is more and more used nowadays. Indeed, 3D printing finds its application in many fields. It is present in the armies, for example, a firearm was manufactured from a 3D printer. In addition to this, 3D printed objects continue to appear in the aeronautical field. For example, large multinational companies already produce some of their aircraft using parts from 3D printing. As for the medical field, many prototypes are produced from 3D printing. For example prostheses and various implants. Doctors can even take advantage of the prowess of 3D printing before each operation thanks to the replication of an organ to anticipate the work by being more efficient during the operation itself. It is not uncommon to find 3D printing in the field of reconstructive surgery. In the pharmaceutical field, the trade of drugs made from 3D printing has already been proclaimed in the United States.
It should not be forgotten that 3D-printed parts are used much more often in architecture and construction. The construction of models in a very precise and meticulous manner makes 3D technology an indispensable tool in this field. The appearance of 3D printers has revolutionized the field of construction and real estate. Three-dimensional printing has made its prowess when manufacturing a bridge from a 3D model.
Advantages and limitations of 3D printing
It is undeniable that 3D printers offer the possibility of creating precise objects, whether from plastic or other materials. They allow the development of creativity. On the one hand, the arrival of 3D printing has allowed the creation of a community of amateurs and designers of objects from 3D printers. This allowed to share experiences. On the other hand, 3D printing has improved life in many areas. This is thanks to the progress they have made in the living conditions of people using the objects resulting from 3D printing. And to produce finished parts, the immense development of additive manufacturing brings many advances.
Nevertheless, it is necessary to master the software that accompanies its 3D printing for the modeling of 3D parts. For a simple user, understanding and mastering these software can sometimes be difficult. For the manufacturing of several 3D objects, investments are necessary at the beginning combining quality and quantity at the same time. The possibility of creating weapons from prototypes resulting from 3D printing is undeniably dangerous for our society. The control of these weapons can escape the authority and can spread from a local to a national or even international level.