my name is Silvestr and I would like to use this platform to spread information about things I am interested in and hear your opinions.
The first theme I would like to share is a very dear hobby of mine and that is 3D printing. I will create a few of articles about different aspects of 3D printing and hopefully convince to consider this technology.
First of all, there are multiple of techniques to create a 3D object out of thin air. The most common 3D printers are based on FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) technology, which is what this series of articles is going to be mostly focused on.
In order to explain the basics, I need to bring some analogy. Imagine a regular (2D) printer. It works by moving a paper up and down on one axis (let's call it Y axis) and then moving the ink left and right (X axis).
In layman's term, FDM works by melting almost wire-looking plastic, feeding it through a small nozzle and printing very thin vertical layers. The 'food' for FDM printers is called filament and the next article is going to be focused on all of the materials that filament can be made out of. A motor pushes filament through the heating block, which usually goes above 200°C, and then through a thin nozzle. The pushed material then gets deposited on the printing plate and the first layer of print is fairly similar to a regular printer. The printer moves the plate on Y axis and the nozzle on X axis. After finishing the layer, the nozzle raises a bit on third Z axis (hence the name 3D), by the value set as 'layer height'. Layer height can be as low as 0.05mm or as high as 0.6mm.
I like to compare FDM printers to a simple glue gun. Glue gun works by melting a glue tube and then pushing it thought a thick nozzle. If someone was to motorize the movement of it, it would essentially be a 3D printer.
FDM 3D printers are the cheapest with the price commonly ranging from $150 to $1000, but with the general unpredictibility of moving a molten plastic, there are other machines with better results. Potential dimensions of a model are however in tens of centimeters in every axis.
Another school of 3D printers is called SLA (Stereolithography) printing. Its niche is in printing via hardening resin. To do that, the printing plate is submerged upside down in a liquid and a laser, or now more commonly used display, shines a UV light on parts that should be hardened. The plate then lifts a bit and display hardens another layer of resin. This allows for a much smoother final print, however, you are limited to the nature of resin - it is fairly fragile. After all of the layers are hardened, you have to leave the print overnight in a special liquid to cure the resin. Other cons of SLA printing are:
Resin's smell when hardening is not very pleasant.
Dimensions are often limited to 15 cm, usually in one axis, other axis are less then 10 cm.
Price of printer starts at $400 and resin is not as cheap as FDM filament.
The final 3D printing techique I'd like to talk about is CNC (Computer Numerical Control). CNC is more industrial, precise and expensive than any other techniques mentioned. It works vice versa than previous ones, where you created a model out of nothing. With CNC, you start with a raw material, be it a piece of wood or metal and drill it with various drills of variable smoothing options. You literally have a cube of raw material and create a model by cutting away more and more of it. CNC can be as big as needed (meters are possible) and the cost goes well into thousands of dollars.
Questions for you, the community:
Do you own a 3D printer? If yes, what is the most curious thing you have printed with it? If no, have you seen this technology?
If you could create anything on the printer, what would you make?
Do you have some questions about 3D printing you would like to get answered?
Does this format of articles interests you?
That's all from me today and tune in next week where I'll discuss the materials FDM filament can be made out of.