3d printing introduction

Thursday, October 11, 2007

3d printing introduction

For those wo are not familiar to the technology that this blog will cover upon here is a short introduction.

3D printing is a technology that uses special printers for solid object creation. How they work: The printers build each model layer by layer, starting at the base. For each iteration, a thin layer of powder is spread over the entire building area. Then, a print head similar to that of an inkjet printer prints a layer of binder onto the powder plane. The colorful binder bonds with the powder to create a solid layer of your object. You can think of the complete model as a stack of 2D images that were printed onto the powder. When the process is finally finished with the top layer, the model will be completely enclosed in a matrix of powder that will be removed during the excavation process.

The printing process: First there must be acquired a 3D model. You can create one using Mayo, Rhino, Inventor, AutoCAD, ProE, and other 3D modeling software. The model file must be converted to a suitable format. These include .zbd, .stl, .bld, .ply, .zcp, .sfx, .zec, and .wrl and others. Next, there should ber reserved time on the printer, where the model is going to be printed. Sometimes it is needed to arrive at the lab in order to review the model with specialists and to make sure that printing the model is feasible (for example, you can't print something with paper-thin walls). If the model looks good, they will open the model using the specialized software where it can be resized and positioned before it is sent to the printer. Next, the printer prints the model. Printing can take less than an hour for very small parts up to many hours for large ones. After the print completion, a staff member scoops and vaccuums away the powder matrix to reveal the model. After the model is removed from the printer, it is blasted with a fine stream of air in the depowdering station. This process removes more loose powder, especially powder in holes or crevices. Finally, the model needs to be infiltrated with wax, cyanoacrylate, epoxy, or an elastomer. The neccessary structural integrity for the model is provides by ths; without infiltration the model can be very easily scratched, chipped, and cracked.


  • Models may be printed with a clear binder or in full color.
  • Models may have interlocking parts such as chains.
  • Thin models can be infiltrated with an elastomer to make flexible parts

Examples (Click for large size):

3d printing of a scull 3d printed building
virus 3d-model dome by 3d printer you can 3d-print even non-joined parts