How to 3D Print

The soul never thinks without an image –Aristotle

Our previous blog covered the question: What is 3D Printing? The blog provided with the definition, history and applications of 3D printing. This blog here will address the question: How to do 3D printing? This is an attempt to answer the same, through a stepwise detailing.

The process of 3D Printing is a 3 step one: modelling, printing and finishing.

1. Modelling

After selection of the object to be 3D printed is done, there is a need to model it. There are two broad ways in which this can be done.

If you do not have the object in its physical form or it is an imaginary structure, then some modelling software like Computer-Aided Design (CAD) package, can be used. It requires pre-knowledge or dedicated training to learn such software packages.

CAD software. Source

If the object is available with you in its physical form than you can make use of 3D Scanners. These may be handheld bulky scanners or photogrammetry-based smartphone applications. The latter has some inherent advantages over the former. Applications are cheaper, easier to use and require no prior knowledge or expertise. One such app is ‘3D Scanner Pro’ which is available for both iOS and Android at very affordable pricing. Further, its LITE version provides you exposure and practice to make 3D models for free.

Creating a 3D model through 3D scanner Pro

The apps provide you with the models in OBJ or FBX file format, which are directly not suitable for 3D Printing or additive manufacturing. Thus, they need to be converted into specific format called Additive Manufacturing File (AMF), which can be done online or by contacting ‘3D Scanner Pro’.

2. Printing

Before printing the created model, there is a need for error examination of the created AMF file. There are mainly 3 types of errors that need to be looked for- holes, intersections and face normal. Models that are 3D scanned may have a greater number of errors. Next step is slicing the 3D model which is done through a software called ‘slicer’ which converts the AMF file into G-code file format. This G- code file is ready to be fed into the 3D printer. The process of additive manufacturing will now be completed by your 3D printer in few hours or few days (depending on the speed and model).

3D Printing. Source

3. Finishing:

This is an optional step and depends on the amount of accuracy and precision required. For high accuracy models, slightly oversized version is 3D printed and then finishing is achieved by removing material through high resolution subtractive process.

Subtractive manufacturing. Source

Hope you now know how to do 3D printing.

Go 3D print objects of your choice and share with us your creations!!

Footnotes:

  1. Wikipedia contributors. (2020, June 14). 3D printing. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 09:48, June 16, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=3D_printing&oldid=962482947
  2. http://www.3dscanner.io/ and https://medium.com/@3DScannerApp/how-does-a-3d-scanning-app-work-52dc19f37606 : 3D scanning 3D printable models using a smartphone.

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3D Scanner

3D Scanner pro uses Photogrammetry technology to create true 3D mesh from photos and videos using a smartphone’s camera. Check out at http://www.3dscanner.io/