3D printers can provide rapid prototyping and object creation. In this video, you’ll learn about filament printing, resin printing, and the print bed of a 3D printer.
So far in our videos, we’ve talked about traditional printers, such as inkjet printers, laser printers, and others. But there’s a new style of printing that you might use called a 3D printer that prints in three dimensions. You create an electronic model, you provide that to the printer, and it’s able to provide you with output that you could hold in your hand.
We often refer to this as additive manufacturing. We’re creating layers upon layers to finally create the 3D model that you see in the final output. Instead of starting with a piece of metal and grinding down that metal to create the final output, we’re using additive manufacturing to start with nothing and add layers until we have the final product. This allows us to create prototypes very, very rapidly. We can simply build them on the screen, and then we can create them with the 3D printer to see how they might look in real life.
Not only are we using these 3D printers around the world to be able to quickly create objects. We’re also using 3D printers in space. The International Space Station has a 3D printer. And when they need to create a very specialized part, folks on the ground can send up the design of the part, and it can be printed on the space station with their 3D printer.
A very common type of 3D printing is called filament printing. You’ll sometimes hear this referred to as fused deposition modeling, or FDM. With filament printing, we are melting the filament and placing it in very fine layers to create the 3D object. The print head will use the filament to print one layer on the object, move up a bit, print the next layer, and so on.
This is one of the most common types of 3D printers because you have so many advantages when working with these types of objects. It has a very large print bed. We’ll talk about print beds in just a moment. You can manage the filament very easily because it’s something that’s easy to be transported or put into the printer. This doesn’t make much of a mess because we’re dealing with these long strands of hard filament. This is also something that’s very easy to dispose of because you don’t have much mess left over once you’ve created that 3D object.
Here’s a larger view of this filament printer. You can see that the filament is here on the backside. We’re currently printing with this blue color. The filament then goes all the way to the top of the printer, where it connects with the print head. And as it’s melted, it’s able to create the 3D object.
Here’s a closer view of this green filament going into a print head. And now it’s creating layer by layer the object on this very large print bed. Another type of 3D printing is a stereolithography printer. This is often referred to simply as a resin printer, or an SLA printer. This type of printing can also create these very fine 3D objects, although, the SLA printing tends to be smoother and more finely detailed than the filament printers.
This type of printing tends to work in reverse to what you just saw with the filament printers. There’s liquid resin that sits on the bottom of this printer, and the object that you’re printing is attached to a build platform that moves up and down. This build platform moves down into the liquid resin, where a light, usually an ultraviolet light or a laser, is used to Harden this resin to create another layer at the bottom of this object. This build platform then moves up a bit to get rid of any excess resin and then moves back down into the resin where the process begins again with the light source hardening the next layer on this object.
The biggest challenge with resin printing tends to revolve around how you manage this liquid resin. You have to use protective gear, so that you don’t injure yourself when working with the resin. And if there’s any resin left over or any resin that you need to dispose of, then you have to take that to a hazardous materials facility in your area.
With both filament printing and with resin printing, there is a large surface that we use as we’re building this 3D object. We refer to this surface as a print bed. This is a flat surface, and it usually is either adhesive on the bottom with your filament printing or adhesive on the top, so that you’re able to connect it to the build platform with resin printing.
Everything on this print bed needs to be completely level, it needs to be clean, and anything that we’re printing on this needs to stay completely still during the printing process. That’s why this print bed is usually created from something that is relatively sticky or makes it very difficult for that object to move. With filament printing, this entire surface that is used to print on is what’s considered to be the print bed. There are a lot of different options for print beds, and you can find some that are very large some that are more compact.
With resin printing, the print bed is the very small area at the bottom of this printer where the light is able to harden the resin. That’s why with resin-based printers, we didn’t have a smaller print bed than one you might find with filament-based printers.