The 3D Printing Process: How It Works

When it comes to the fairly recent technological advances that continue to get a lot of press, 3D printing would have to be on the top of the list. In fact, one of the most recent stories about it consisted of a 3D printing of a dog’s leg that was used to help a handicapped dog learn to run.

Indeed, there are many benefits that come with 3D printing whether you work for a major corporation, you teach in a school, or you’re an inventor who likes to make the prototypes of your ideas more tangible. 3D printing makes it possible for you to do mass customization in a short amount of time without the need for a lot of tools. This means that 3D printing is time-efficient and also eco-friendly.

If you’ve found yourself reading more and more about 3D printing and a part of you is curious about how it actually works, this article will walk you through the steps of this impressive phenomenon.

Design your idea. Say that you want to do some 3D printing. The first thing that you should do is to come up with a concept. After you have an idea in mind, lay it out with the help of some digital modeling. You will either need a Computer Aided Design (CAD) or animation modeling software. Both will help you to design a blueprint. These programs do that by dividing the object into digital cross-sections. This helps the printer give you the size and shape that you want.

Choose your material. The next thing that you should do is decide what kind of material you want your print to be made out of. There are all sorts of options including paper, plastic, rubber, metals, polyurethane-like materials, and more.

Transfer the material. Once you know the material that you want to use, it’s then time to transfer your material. Although this process basically varies based on the kind of 3D printer that you have, you will need to squeeze, spray, or find another way to transfer the material from the printer directly onto the platform.

Let the printer “make passes.” Say that you worked for a rail transit company like TriMet and you wanted to experiment with a 3D printer so that you can make some of the tools that you use while you’re at work. If you were to use something like plastic or metal to make them, after transferring the material to the printer, the printer would then work like an inkjet printer over the platform. During this process, layer upon layer would be deposited. The layers would fuse onto one another in order to make a three-dimensional object. Depending on the product, this can take several hours or it may take a few days.

Although there used to be a time when 3D printers were extremely expensive, as they are in more demand, they are starting to become more affordable. In fact, by 2016, they are expected to average around $2,000 a printer. For a list of some of the best 3D printers that are currently on the market, visit

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