3D printing is any of various processes in which material is joined or solidified under computer control to create a three-dimensional object, with material being added together (such as liquid molecules or powder grains being fused together). 3D printing is used in both rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing (AM).
The 3D printers we use here use the FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) process to print parts. They work by laying layers of melted plastic on top of each other, starting from the bottom and working up to the top.
You can find printing, and troubleshooting guides for our printers below.
Simple, Plus, Play
This contains the following parts from top to bottom:
The extruder is responsible for pushing the material into the heating area.
All extruders have a motor pushing the material, aided by a spring loaded bearing applying pressure to the filament.
Extruders can either be mounted on top of the tool head (Direct drive) or elsewhere on the frame, feeding through a tube (Bowden drive).
The heat block is responsible for melting the plastic. Heat blocks hold the heating cartridge, and the thermistor, as well as connect the nozzle to the extruder assembly.
The nozzle is responsible for distributing the melted plastic onto the print surface.
Nozzles take the melted filament in, and push it out at a smaller diameter to get higher detail. They can range from 0.1mm to 0.8mm or more.
The cooling fan is responsible for cooling the plastic that has been extruded. If the plastic takes to long to cool it can start to sag or move around.
Z-Axis sensors, or Auto leveling probes, are inductive distance sensors used to determine the distance between the extruder assembly and the bed.
The X-axis is the axis of movement going side to side from the perspective of the user.
The Y-axis the the axis of movement going in and out from the perspective of the user.
The Y-axis the the axis of movement going up and down from the perspective of the user.
The controller of a printer can either be a physical controller on the printer, or a piece of software.
Lots of modern printers are adopting touch screens or LCD screens with a set of buttons over software. This allows prints to be done without a computer being present.
The spool holder is used to hold your roll of filament and allows it to roll freely. These are often mounted on the top of printers.
.STL files are the most common type of 3D model that people print with.
.GCODE files are the raw instructions files that printers take in.
A slicer is a program used to convert 3D models into .GCODE files for the printer.
It gets its name from the idea that it slices your model into layers of plastic.
Some common slicers include:
Infill is the internal structure of a printed part.
Infill is measure in a percentage of the volume of the print. A higher percentage means your part will be stronger, but it will also have a longer print time.
Because of the layer by layer process of 3D printing, each layer needs a solid foundation to print on top of. parts that have large overhangs need support material to fill those gaps.
You can control the amount of support by adjusting the support angle or maximum overhang angle. A lower number will cause more support to generate, as you've told the software that the printer can't print angles without support above that threshold.
A raft is a solid base layer that your model will print on top of. Rafts are useful to help with first layer adhesion, by increasing surface area and by ensuring the first layer of your model is printing on a flat surface.
Filament is the term used for the plastic that a 3D printer takes in. This plastic comes on spools, and in our case has a 1.75mm diameter. Some printers do use larger diameters of filament.
Different types of material can give different results, as well as have special properties.
|Type||Durability||Price (per kg)||Printability||Printing Temp||Heated bed||Notes|
|PLA||4/10||$10-$40||9/10||190 - 220°C||Optional 45 - 60°C|
|ABS||8/10||$10-$40||8/10||220 - 250°C||95 - 110°C||Warps easily.|
|PET(G)||8/10||$20-$60||9/10||230 - 250°C||75 - 90°C|
|Nylon||10/10||$25-$65||8/10||220 - 270°C||70 - 90°C|
|Polycarbonate||10/10||$40-$75||6/10||260 - 310°C||80 - 120°C|
|Ninjaflex||9/10||$30-$70||6/10||225 - 245°C||Optional 45 - 60°C||Flexible Material|
|PVA||7/10||$40-$110||5/10||185 - 200°C||45 - 60°C||Water soluble|