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3D Printing: A definitive guide to how an object is printed

3D printing has since its inception continued to awe people. Having such technology at our disposal is just nothing short of a miracle. However, there is still a lot of confusion revolving around the whole process.

In this article, we demystify the whole process for you to give you a better understanding of what 3D printing is and how it’s done.

As you can guess by the name, 3D printing is exactly what it sounds like. Instead of printing on regular paper, you print in all three dimensions, hence ending up with a physical object.

The way these printers work is straightforward. There is a filament which is fed into what’s called an extruder. The extruder heats up, melting the filament, and then starts ‘printing’ the object layer by layer.

The filaments come in multiple colours and materials. You can get anything from ABS or PLA (the most common ones) to even stainless steel and wood.

3D printers, though initially extremely expensive, have now become extremely accessible to everyone. You can pick a 3D printer from Amazon right now for about INR 12k. Of course, it won’t be as fast or accurate as of the more expensive ones, but it’ll get the job done.

3D printers come in all shapes and sizes. You can print anything from bones to entire houses. All you need is a printer capable enough to handle the task.

Also read: The Future of 3D Printing

How is an object printed?

Although the exact process differs for each printer, the core process is the same. You design an object in a 3D designing software such as Blender or Maya. Then you pass it through the slicer software for your specific printer, which coverts the purpose in gcode or x3g depending upon the printer. These files contain data such as coordinates and thickness etc.

Here’s a coupler I designed to print in Blender3D

After this, all you have to do is copy the output from the slicing software onto a memory card, put it in your printer, and you’re all set to print.

Note that the designing process can be cumbersome, especially for newcomers. You’re not just designing an object in 3D space, but you’re also printing it. This means that the design has to be practical. Then there are measurements, which have to be spot on.

There are websites like Thingiverse where a lot of people upload their designs which are ready to print. So we suggest you search before you get to the designing software of choice. You might save yourself quite a lot of time. And that’s it. That’s how you 3D print an object.

Also read: Futuristic Medical Technology: 5 things you should look forward to

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