3D printing or additive manufacturing is a process of making three dimensional solid
objects from a digital file.
The creation of a 3D printed object is achieved using additive processes. In an additive
process an object is created by laying down successive layers of material until the object is
created. Each of these layers can be seen as a thinly sliced horizontal cross-section of the
3D printing is the opposite of subtractive manufacturing whicHow Does 3D Printing Work?h is cutting out / hollowing out
a piece of metal or plastic with for instance a milling machine.
3D printing enables you to produce complex shapes using less material than traditional
How Does 3D Printing Work?
It all starts with a 3D model. You create one yourself or download it from a 3D
repository. When creating it yourself you can choose to use a 3D scanner, app, haptic
device, code or 3D modeling software.
3D Modeling Software
There are many different 3D modeling software tools available. Industrial grade software
can easily cost thousands a year per license, but there’s also open-source software you can
get for free.
We often recommend beginners to start with Tinkercad . Tinkercad is free and works in your
browser, you don’t have to install it on your computer. Tinkercad offers beginner lessons
and has a built-in feature to get your 3D model printed via a 3D print service.
Now that you have a 3D model, the next step is to prepare the file for your 3D printer. This
is called slicing.
Slicing: From 3D Model to 3D Print
Slicing is dividing a 3D model into hundreds or thousands of horizontal layers and is done
with slicing software.
Some 3D printers have a built-in slicer and let you feed the raw .stl, .obj or even CAD file.
When your file is sliced, it’s ready to be fed to your 3D printer. This can be done via USB, SD
or internet. Your sliced 3D model is now ready to be 3D printed layer by layer.
What is the difference between rapid prototyping and 3d printing?
There were still many peoples struggling about the rapid prototyping and 3D printing, are
they the same, or are they different from each other? The terms Rapid Prototyping and 3D printing
are often used along with each other. And they have similarities. For example, both rapid prototyping
(RP) and 3D printing technologies build models layer by layer from STL data. But there are still some
Rapid Prototyping is the technical term for this kind of additive manufacturing process.
3D printing is the colloquial term for the same so that many people can grasp this technology easily.
A not so accurate yet commonly perceived difference between Rapid Prototyping and 3D printing is
that Rapid Prototyping is industrial level and 3D printing is consumer level additive manufacturing
3D printing is a manufacturing process like milling and turning. Its also known as additive
manufacturing because you are adding successive layers of material instead of to remove material
like milling and turning. Just be aware that is not the same process for create a 3D model for 3D
printing than for milling or turning.
Rapid prototyping is a method to quickly create a scale model of a part or finished product, using a
computer-aided design (CAD) software. Manufacturing of the part is mainly done with 3D printing or
additive layer manufacturing technology.
What are the examples of 3D Printing?
3D printing encompasses many forms of technologies and materials as 3D printing is being
used in almost all industries you could think of. It’s important to see it as a cluster of diverse
industries with a myriad of different applications.
A few examples:
architectural scale models & moquette’s
design (lamps, furniture etc)
reconstructing fossils in palaeontology
replicating ancient artefacts in archaeology
reconstructing bones and body parts in forensic pathology
reconstructing heavily damaged evidence retrieved from a crime scene
What are the types of 3D Printing Technologies and Processes?
There are several ways to 3D print. All these technologies are additive, differing mainly in
the way layers are built to create an object.
Some methods use melting or softening material to extrude layers. Others cure a photo-reactive
resin with a UV laser (or another similar light source) layer by layer.
To be more precise: since 2010, the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) group “ASTM
F42 – Additive Manufacturing”, developed a set of standards that classify the Additive
Manufacturing processes into 7 categories according to Standard Terminology for Additive
Manufacturing Technologies. These seven processes are:
1. Vat Photopolymerization
1. Stereolithography (SLA)
2. Digital Light Processing (DLP)
3. Continuous Liquid Interface Production (CLIP)
2. Material Jetting
3. Binder Jetting
4. Material Extrusion
1. Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM)
2. Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF)
5. Powder Bed Fusion
1. Multi Jet Fusion (MJF)
2. Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
3. Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS)
6. Sheet Lamination
7. Directed Energy Deposition
What are the difference between Rapid Prototyping & Rapid
Companies have used 3D printers in their design process to create prototypes since the late
seventies. Using 3D printers for these purposes is called rapid prototyping.
In short: it’s fast and relatively cheap. From idea, to 3D model to holding a prototype in your hands is
a matter of days instead of weeks. Iterations are easier and cheaper to make and you don’t need
expensive moulds or tools.
Besides rapid prototyping, 3D printing is also used for rapid manufacturing. Rapid manufacturing is a
new method of manufacturing where businesses use 3D printers for short run / small batch custom
Rapid Manufacturing is a broad term including the use of Rapid Prototyping, Rapid Tooling, and
the direct use of Layer Manufacturing technologies to produce final products quickly.
Synonyms: direct digital manufacturing, solid freeform fabrication, low-volume-layered
manufacturing, additive fabrication technologies.