What Is A 3D Printer?

October 1st, 2014

3D printing is an example of advancing technology at its finest. It is the ability to process and make three dimensional solid objects from a file, and accomplishes this by laying down successive layers until the object as a whole is completed. Before, many people would have thought that the idea of 3D printing was something that only existed in a science fiction film, novel, or comic book. But in the last few years, it became a reality, and today, it’s on the verge of becoming an everyday device in America.

3d Printer Building A ModelThe actual process of how a 3D printer works is quite fascinating. First, you have to make a virtual design of the object on a computer. This can only be done in a Computer Aided Design (abbreviated as CAD) file with a specified 3D modeling program or a 3D scanner. This scanner will make a digital copy of the object and then transfer it over to the program.

The program will then perform its magic and cut the virtual model into literally hundreds of thousands of different layers. This new file will then be uploaded to the printer, and the printer will create the object by each layer. This can be a slow process as the printer has to upload and print out each individual layer, but the results truly are magnificent.

Not all 3D printers are the same, and some utilize different kinds of technologies than others. In recent years, especially since 2010, the number of different technologies that we have seen for 3D printers has skyrocketed. While all 3D printers use the layers to print the materials, some have different ways of printing those layers. Some melt the material to produce the layers, while others fuse layers together. Others turn the layers into liquid and then set them atop one another.

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3D printers are being used more and more today. They are used to make prototypes of different materials, to construct architecture, to make medical devices for healthcare, and also for designing entirely new inventions. 3D printers are definitely the way of the future, to the point where most college classes offer 3D printer classes now.

Additional ways that we use 3D printers today are to remake fossils that we uncover from the ground, to reconstruct evidence in a crime scene investigation, and to reconstruct ancient artifacts that are uncovered from lost civilizations.