What Is 3D Printer: Types(FDM And Resin), Uses And Limitation

A 3D printer is a machine that creates three-dimensional objects by depositing layers of material, such as plastic, resin or metal, on top of each other. There are 2 types of Popular 3D Printer available in the market FDM and Resin 3D Printer. In FDM 3D Printer material is melted and extruded through a nozzle while in Resin 3D Printer uses liquid material to create objects layer by layer. Both the 3D printer moves in a precise pattern to create the desired shape.

3D Printer

Brief History Of 3D Printer:

3D printing technology was first established in the 1980s and the first working 3D printer was created by Chuck Hull of 3D Systems Corp in 1984. He invented a process known as “stereolithography,” which used UV lasers to solidify photopolymer that created 3D parts layer by layer. Since then, the technology has evolved and diversified, leading to the variety of 3D printing techniques we have today.

 History of 3D Printer

Popular Types of 3D Printers Available in the Market:

There are two types of 3D printers majorly available in the market. First is FDM 3D printer and second is Resin 3D printer. Let’s understand each of them in detail.

1. FDM 3D Printer:

FDM stands for Fused Deposition Modeling. It’s one of the most common types of 3D printing technology. In this process, a plastic filament is heated until it melts and is then extruded through a nozzle. The nozzle moves in the X and Y axes, depositing the material layer by layer in the Z axis to create the 3D object. This technology is widely used due to its affordability and versatility, making it popular for both personal and professional use. If you are new to 3D printing, FDM 3D printer will be a perfect choice to begin with.

Component of Fused Deposition Model (FDM) Printer:

Fused Deposition Model (FDM) is a type of 3D printing technology that uses a thermoplastic filament, which is heated to its melting point and then extruded, layer by layer, to create a three-dimensional object.

The Main Components of FDM 3D Printer Include:

1. Filament: This is the material that is melted and extruded to create the object. It comes in many types, including ABS, PLA, and more.

 History of 3D Printer

2. Extruder: This is the part of the printer that heats up the filament to its melting point.

Components of FDM 3D Printer

3. Nozzle: The heated filament is pushed through the nozzle, which moves in all three dimensions to create the object.

4. Build Platform: This is where the object is built, layer by layer. The platform can move up and down to accommodate the layers of the object.

5. Stepper Motors: These control the movement of the extruder and the build platform.

Stepper Motors Power Supply of FDM Printer

6. Control System: This includes the software and hardware that control the printer’s operations, including the movement of the extruder and the temperature of the filament.

7. Power Supply: This provides the necessary power for the printer to operate.

8. Cooling System: Some FDM printers include a cooling system to quickly cool the extruded plastic and solidify it.

Cooling Fan System In 3D Printer

9. Filament Holder or Spool Holder: This holds the filament spool and allows it to unwind smoothly as the filament is fed into the extruder.

2. Resin 3D Printer:

A 3D printer that utilizes resin, often referred to Stereolithography (SLA) printer, is a specific kind of 3D printer that employs liquid resin as its primary printing material. This printer type uses a light source, like a laser or projector, to harden the resin and shape it as desired. Renowned for its exceptional resolution and accuracy, this type of 3D printer is frequently used in fields that demand detailed work, such as the creation of jewelry, dental prosthetics, and medical models. Resin 3D Printer

Component of Resin 3D Printer:

A resin 3D printer mainly consists of a resin vat for the liquid resin, a light source to cure the resin, and a build platform where the object is formed.Components of Resin 3D Printer

The Main Components of Resin 3D Printer Include:
1. Resin Vat: This is where the liquid resin is stored during the printing process.

2. Build Plate: This is the part of the printer where the model is built, layer by layer.

3. Light Source: This could be a laser or a projector. It cures the resin, hardening it into the desired shape.

4. Z-axis: This moves the build plate up and down, allowing the printer to build the model layer by layer.

5. Control System: This includes the software and hardware that control the printer’s operations.

Resin 3D Printer(SLA Vs DLP):

Resin 3D printers, which include Stereolithography (SLA) and Digital Light Processing (DLP) printers, are types of 3D printers that use liquid resin as their printing material. SLA printers use a laser to cure the resin, while DLP printers use a projector. Both are known for their high resolution and precision, making them ideal for applications that require intricate details. However, they differ in their light sources and the way they cure the resin, which can affect their speed, resolution, and overall performance.

How To 3D Print Using 3D Printer:

How to Print With 3D Printer

To 3D print using an FDM 3D printer or Resin 3D printer, you can follow these general steps:

1. Design or Obtain a 3D Model: Use a 3D modeling software to create your own design or download a pre-made 3D model STL file from websites that offer 3D designs.

2. Prepare the Model: Once you have the 3D model, use a slicing software like Cura, Prusa to prepare it for printing. This involves setting the print parameters such as layer height, wall, infill density, and support structures.

3. Send the file to the Printer: Save the G-code file prepared from an STL file and transfer it to your 3D printer. Most printers accept files via USB, SD card, or direct connection to a computer.

4. Load the filament (Like PLA or Resin): Insert the filament material like PLA in FDM printer’s filament spool or Resin in Resin 3D Printer’s resin vat.

5. Start the Print: Use the printer’s interface to select the prepared file and start the printing process. The printer will heat the filament in the FDM 3D printer or laser (SLA) to start hardening the resin and shaping it as desired. Both printers create the 3D object layer by layer.

6. Monitor the Print: Keep an eye on the print progress, especially during the first few layers, to ensure adhesion to the build plate and proper filament extrusion.

7. Post-Processing: Once the print is complete, remove the object from the build plate and perform any necessary post-processing, such as removing support structures or smoothing the surface.

Uses of 3D Printer in Real Life:

3D printers are used in various fields. They help create medical equipment, architectural models, custom parts for machines, educational models, and even personalised items like toys, jewelry’s. They’re also used in prototyping and manufacturing.

Uses of 3D Printer in Real life

Here are a few examples where 3D printing is widely used nowadays: 

1. Education: In schools and universities, 3D printers are used to help students understand complex concepts, create prototypes, and encourage creativity and innovation.

2. Food Industry: Some restaurants and food companies use 3D printers to create intricate food designs or personalised dishes.

3. Fashion: Some fashion designers use 3D printers to create unique and complex jewelry’s, accessories, and even clothing.

4. Space Exploration: NASA, ISRO and other space agencies use 3D printers to produce parts for spacecraft and potentially for building structures on other planets.

5. Personal Use: Individuals use 3D printers for DIY projects, customizing items, creating art, and even making toys.

6. Architecture: Architects use 3D printers to create detailed models of their designs.

7. Medical Field: 3D printers are used to create custom prosthetics, dental implants, and even synthetic skin for burn victims. They’re also used in bio-printing, where they can print human tissue and potentially organs.

8. Manufacturing: 3D printers are used to create prototypes quickly and cheaply. They can also be used for small-scale production of complex parts which would be expensive or impossible to produce with traditional methods.

Limitations of 3D Printer:

3D printers have limitations including limited material use, slow printing speed, and sometimes inconsistent quality of printed objects. Despite these, the technology is constantly improving and becoming widely popular. Let’s now look at the 3D printer’s several limitations one by one.

Limitations of 3D Printer

1. High Costs: The initial investment for a 3D printer can be quite high, especially for high-end models.

2. Limited Materials: Not all materials can be used in 3D printing. Some materials may not be suitable due to their melting points or other properties.

3. Slow Printing Speed: 3D printing can be a slow process, especially for complex or large objects. Just to give you an idea for even the simplest 3D print you will need at least 2-4 hours which can extend to days depending on your 3D print size and detailing on it.

4. Quality and Consistency: The quality of the printed object can sometimes be lower than expected, with issues like rough surfaces or structural weaknesses. Achieving consistent quality and accuracy across different prints can be challenging, especially with complex geometries.

5. Material and Process Constraints: Different materials and 3D printing processes have specific limitations, such as temperature sensitivity, warping, and post-processing requirements. The mechanical, thermal, and chemical properties of 3D printed parts may not always meet the requirements of the intended application.

6. Size and Scale: The build volume of 3D printers limits the size of objects that can be printed in a single piece.

7. Economic Viability: 3D printing may not be cost-effective for high-volume production or for parts that can be easily and affordably manufactured using traditional methods.

Do you own a 3D printer? Let me know, what you use it for in the comments below.

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