What is 3D printing?

3D printing services have become increasingly popular in recent years as an easy, cost effective solution to create real parts from 3D CAD data. 3D printing is a term used to describe additive manufacturing technologies such as , Stereolithography (SLA), Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), Selective Laser Melting (SLM) and Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM). These manufacturing technologies produce custom parts by accurately “printing” layer upon layer of plastic or metal material until a 3D form is created. Additive manufacturing technologies can quickly create tangible parts that allow individuals to touch, feel and assess their design.

How Does 3D Printing Work?

Every 3D print needs to print from a CAD (Computer Aided Design) file, generally in STL format. The printer software then slices this digital model into thousands of wafer thin slices. These slices are then sent to the printer. Material is then laid down in the exact cross sections of the slices, one on top of the other from the bottom to the top until you are left with your lovely new product..This layer-by-layer manufacturing process allows for the direct fabrication of complex parts that would be cost-prohibitive, if not impossible, to produce through traditional manufacturing processes. For example, interior features, undercuts and negative draft are not an issue for SLS fabrication however could be an issue for FDM or SLM.