About 3D Printers

Learn everything about 3D Printers

What is a 3D printer? How does a 3D printer work? What 3D printing processes are there? Which 3D printer manufacturers are there? What a 3D printer software should I use? The answers to these and other questions can be found here...

What is a 3D printer and how does it work?

A 3D printer is, as the name suggests, a printer capable of printing in three dimensions. Conventional printers such as those printing images or text, print text only in 2 dimensions, ie X-axis and Y-axis. In a 3D printer, the third dimension, the so-called Z-axis is added.

Furthermore, 3D printers will not work with paper but rather by using different materials. Probably the most common materials are called ABS and PLA. These printers thus create plastic parts. However, there are 3D printers that can print with metal, ceramic and other materials.

To print in 3D, a 3D model, also called 3D printer template, is required. In most cases, this is a so-called STL file that can be processed by means of suitable 3D printer software. From this template, the printer then produces the desired object.

What 3D printing methods are available and which materials can be printed?

As mentioned in the previous paragraph, various materials can be found for 3D printers on the market 3D. In addition, there are also different 3D printing process. The best-known printing process is the melting process, known technically as well as FDM or FFF method. Here, with the aid of ABS material and using a high temperature, the extruder creates the desired 3D object. The ABS filament is here, so to speak, the "cartridge" for the 3D printer. Various procedures in the field of 3D printing are shown in the following list:

  • 3D printing via extruder (FDM or FFF printing process)
  • 3D printing with the help of powder (for example, EBM, SLM or SLS 3D printing process)
  • Stereolithography (SLA 3D printing process)
  • Other printing processes such as food (for example, to print from noodles)

Stereolithography hereby guarantees a modern and accurate printing. The printer is filled with a kind of synthetic resin, which can then a laser can harden at the desired locations. A SLA 3D printer therefore creates very accurate 3D models.

Which 3D printer manufacturers are there and what 3D printer software is suitable?

The following list shows some of the most popular 3D printer manufacturers on the market:

The respective manufacturers usually offer the appropriate software for the printers. In addition to the manufacturers programs for processing of 3D templates, there is also software for creating and modifying your own 3D models.

Create 3D printer software for your own 3D models

Here are a few of the freely available modeling programs:

With blender, you can draw and design your own 3D models. The software is available as a free download. However, it should be mentioned that blender can be a complex software and certain knowledge is required.
Click here for the free download

LibreCAD is a drawing software that allows you to create two and three dimensional templates. The program is somewhat similar to the Autodesk AutoCAD. Video tutorials show how to deal with the freeware. LibreCAD is perfect for creating your own 3D templates. The program is open source and is a free download.
Click here for the free download

Sketchup Make
Sketchup offers both free, as well as professional versions of the popular 3D designing software. SketchUp Make offers home users a free way to create and design their own 3D templates. The software is particularly user-friendly and provides an easy introduction.
Click here for the free download