3D Printing process
Updated: Jun 2, 2019
There are many different 3D Printing technologies (SLS, FDM, SLA, DLP and etc), the following steps will explain on the general process from design to final part. These five core steps are constant across all technologies
3D File - Producing a digital model is the first step in the 3D Printing process. The most common method for producing a digital model is using CAD software. Reverse engineering can also be used to generate 3D models via scanning. Currently we have EIS pro 3D scanner for scanning almost everything. There are several design consideration that must be evaluated when designing 3D printing such as feature geometry limitations, support material and escape hole requirements.
STL creation - to print any 3D part, CAD model must be converted into a format that a 3D printer is able to interpret. This begins by converting the CAD model into a STereoLithography (STL) file, also reffered to as standard Triangulation Language file. OBJ. or 3DP are also acceptable types of 3D printing file types but are less common. STL uses triangles (polygons) to describe the surfaces of an object essentially simplifying the often complex CAD model
Printing - 3D printing machines print parts by additively/layer by layer based on the CAD file. files are normally saved in the SD card, USB or transffered via ethernet to the machine. Each machine will have its own data preparation software or Computer Aided Manufacturing software (CAM) for data slicing and setting up printing parameters. The best way to determine whether a certain method of 3D Printing is suitable for an application is to understand the mechanism behind how the technology produces parts. Selecting the optimal 3D Printing machine for a particular design can be difficult. The range of 3D Printing methods and materials means that often several process are suitable with each offering variations in properties like dimensional accuracy, surface finish and post processing requirements
Removal of prints - for some, removal of the print is as simple as separating the printed part from the build platform. for many especially industries the removal of a print is a highly technical process involving precise extraction of the print it is still encased in the build material or attached to the build plate. These methods generally also require strict removal procedures and highly skilled machine operators along with safety equipment and controlled environments
Post processing - post processing procedure again vary by printer technology. some technologies requires a component to cure under the UV before handling while others allow parts to be handled right away. for technologies that utilizes support, this is also removed at the post processing stage.