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What is 3D Printing?
May 28, 2018

3D printers are one of the biggest trends of recent technology recently. The name itself is self-explanatory: objects are literally printed by a printer after being modeled on a computer. This has led to novel ideas and opportunities, such as 3D printing cars, robots, and other vital consumer products! In this week’s comic, TG700’s elbow cap gets broken. The creator of TG700 uses a 3D printer to print out a brand-new one while he goes about his day! 3D printing opens up new realms of efficiency and creativity in the building process!

3D printing is actually a fairly straightforward.There are three steps to 3D printing:

· Modeling
· Printing
· Finishing

Step 1: Modeling

The first step to 3D printing is creating an online model of what you want to print. This can be done with CAD software. CAD stands for Computer-Aided Design, and is commonly used to design physical objects before actually building them. The advent of 3D printing allows CAD software to directly create models to be printed, rather than having to manually design objects by hand. After CAD software builds an acceptable model, the 3D printer can begin to print.

Step 2: Printing

The advantage of 3D printing over traditional manual manufacturing is that the computer can print exactly what is designed, whereas humans are prone to errors. 3D printing uses materials fed to it, commonly plastic filament. However, metal, resin, and other materials can commonly be used and combined in newer 3D printing processes. The object is printed in layers! For example, TG700’s elbow cap, when printed, will be printed in layers from top to bottom. There remains an elevator underneath the printed objects, so that each layer is created properly. The 3D printer uses a laser that directs materials to their rightful places, making sure to copy coordinates presented in the CAD model.

Step 3: Finishing

This last step is to make your 3D printed object pretty! Many times, the layers that are created by the 3D printer are still somewhat visible after the process is done. To get the smooth finish of a professional product, some sandpaper, paint, and epoxy pushes the designed object up to par.

Before 3D printing was widely available for prototyping, people used to have to rely on hand model making with wood & clays to test out 3D designs. But now, with powerful 3D printers readily available, it is so easy to design a 3D object and watch it come to life!

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