What exactly is 3D Printing? 3D printing is used worldwide in a variety of unique and exciting applications. It is a way to bring inventive visions to life right before your eyes. Also known as additive manufacturing, 3D objects are built up layer by layer using materials, including 3D filaments. Unlike traditional printing which only allows for one-dimensional printouts, 3D printers produce objects in three-dimensional form. 3D printing is beneficial to businesses as it gives individuals and groups the control to become creators, allowing endless customization using their printers and filaments.

3D Print Process Overview:

1. 3D blueprint file is created using CAD software, downloaded from an online .STL file library, or through an object scanned from a 3D scanner.

2. Slicer software (slices design into thin layers to be printed) is utilized to convert the .STL file to a G-CODE file which is then sent to the printer.

3. Data is taken from a G-CODE file and then object is then printed using a 3D printer and filament (heated thermoplastic (filament) is extruded from nozzle and layers are built up).

4. Print is complete; finishing touches can be put on the item, such as removal of temporary print supports.

Types of 3D Printing:

Stereolithography (SLA)
A laser cuts the design layer by layer into a tank of liquid plastic that drops down each time a layer is completed; this process continues until printing is complete and the liquid plastic hardens into a solid 3D object.

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
Uses a pulse laser to fuse particles (plastic, ceramic, or glass) together layer by layer; the printer has a tank filled with powder which lowers each time a layer is completed.

Selective Laser Melting (SLM)
Material is built up through metal powder particles pinpointed by a laser; the laser causes the powder to melt so that each layer attaches to the previous one.

Electron Beam Melting (EBM)
An electron beam melts thin layers of metal powder to shape; the 3D object is constructed layer by layer in the bed of powder.

Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM)
With high temperatures and pressure, layers of adhesive-coated plastic, paper or metal are compounded together; the shape of the object is then cut out using a computer-controlled laser or blade.

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) / Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF)
Fused Deposition Modeling or Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF), its other commonly recognized term, is the most prevalent 3D printing process as well as the most user-friendly. Thermoplastic (filament) is extruded through a heated nozzle, and the filament builds the object up layer by layer from the bottom up. When printing is complete, the thermoplastic cools and the 3D print becomes a solid object. If the object being printed requires supports, the 3D printer will include scaffolding during the printing process, which can then be removed once it is complete. Did you know - HOP now carries Voltivo High Grade 3D Printing Filament and Accessories! Its the perfect filament for 3D printers that employ the FDM/FFF technology! Check out and shop our great selection here.

Examples of Business Fields Where 3D Printing is Utilized:
  • • Aerospace
  • • Commercial
  • • Dental
  • • Food
  • • Medical
  • • Architecture
  • • Consumers
  • • Education
  • • Jewellery
  • • Transport
  • • Art
  • • Defense
  • • Entertainment
  • • Fashion
  • • & MORE!

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