Tuesday, December 3, 2013

How Three Dimensional Printers Work

Three dimensional printers are the next generation of printing peripherals to hit the residential market. Long gone are the days when printers were just confined to the most basic text and image jobs. Now, it's possible to forge various objects using different materials: all from the very same printer. They're also tentatively set to replace some manufacturing processes in a very similar way to how inkjet printers made the printing press redundant. So, what's beneath the surface and just how do these printers work? Let's find out.

Owners of these printers first begin by designing a three dimensional object on their home computers. This is perhaps easier said than done though. In fact, 3D modelling is one of the most time consuming skills that any prospective printer may be required to learn. Of course, it will pay dividends in the long run because it will ensure that printers create the exact object that they're looking for, but it won't be without quite a bit of legwork on their behalf.

Notice how “may be required” was noted above. This is because learning 3D modelling is in no way required to own a three dimensional printer. There are several well-established communities online that offer 3D models to their users. Some of these are ones users will be required to pay for, whereas others will be offered completely free of charge. However, owners should be forewarned that taking this route will mean they won't end up with exactly what they're looking for in terms of their print jobs. If owners are looking to print more generic objects, though, then this could be something well-worth looking into given the ease of use and guaranteed compatibility.

Once owners have their 3D model, then it's just a matter of sending the job to the printer similarly to how inkjet printers work. The printing process itself is a bit like baking a loaf of bread, but the process is reversed. Printers begin with thousands of “slices” that are assembled together within the 3D printer. Once assembled, the slices create a whole object and theoretically there's no limit to how many objects can be combined together. Printer owners have proven it's possible to create a working bicycle using printed components. It's just a matter of leaving the right grooves and slots in the right places when it comes time to assemble everything together.

Modelling skills undoubtedly take the crown as the best 3D printer skills to have, but even these aren't  necessary given the strong communities that exist online. It's likely that these will only improve with time as well. It would certainly be worth your while to learn these skills for yourself though. Being dependent on other designs severely limits the opportunities that three dimensional printing can provide. It would be much better to have complete freedom when it comes to designing and printing three dimensional objects. That way, you're sure to end up with what you want to print in the first place!

The New Form of Printing That Will Change The World

The New Form of Printing That Will Change The World

There's been a lot of buzz surrounding printers as of late because the technology is undergoing a huge resurgence in functionality. Sure, the typical inkjet printer that has found its way into the home office has its place, but the need for just printing text and images is slowly changing. While it's highly unlikely that ink-jets are going to go anywhere anytime soon, they are slowly taking a back seat for a new demand that consumers have of the market. This new form of printing is ultimately set to change the way we think about printers altogether. I'm talking, of course, about three dimensional printing.

Imagine being able to print objects that can be manipulated, handled, and fashioned in some way in our lives. This is exactly what's made possible by three dimensional printing. Long gone are the days when printers were confined to just printing text, pictures, and two-dimensional “objects” on flat paper. It's now possible to bring our ideas to life in ways that weren't conceivable before. 

Of course, innovative technology will always be accompanied by a steep learning curve, but the fact of the matter is that these printers have been around for quite some time. Three dimensional printing has existed at industrial levels for decades, but is now becoming more commonplace within the residential market due to rising consumer demand for this technology in the home. 

Does this mean that those who aren't necessarily tech-savvy are out of the running when it comes to buying a three dimensional printer? Absolutely not. Because this isn't exactly new technology in terms of how long it has been around, there is already a community of knowledgeable experts who are more than willing to contribute their creations for the betterment of 3D printer owners worldwide. 

Do these creation come at a cost? Some of them do, but it's understandable when you think about it. Those with the best 3D printer skills will undoubtedly want to showcase what they're able to offer the global community, but aren't necessarily willing to give away their creations free of charge given the technical skill that's involved in creating a 3D model. There will be others who are indeed willing to give away their creations free of charge, which lets new printer owners begin their printing experiences immediately after hooking everything up and getting the drivers installed.

Three dimensional printing is definitely set to change the way we think about printers as a whole. No longer are we confined to sheets of paper. Now, it's only our imaginations that will confine creations through this medium. No, we shouldn't expect to create the largest of objects using home-based three dimensional printing techniques, but what's on the horizon for this technology is still relatively unknown. Things will definitely improve as time goes on, but it will be up to us to keep creating the objects that need to be printed. This will undoubtedly be the case with such a stable, but growing number of owners and users.

Understanding Three Dimensional Printing

Much has been said about three dimensional printing over the past few years. Some of the claims made by the so-called experts are blatantly false, whereas others are making attempts to communicate honest and useful advice to interested consumers. Unfortunately, the innovative technology associated with three dimensional printing means it's difficult to discern fact from fiction. This is where understanding three dimensional printing becomes a game of trying to source the reputable information from the outright lies. It is possible to do this, but requires a bit of forethought on behalf of consumers before taking the plunge into their first purchase.

Before trying to understand what three dimensional printing actually is, it's important to understand that these printers are not. Three dimensional printing isn't in any way a means to creating the most exquisite, full-scale, life size objects that would make other forms of manufacturing obsolete. In fact, many home sized printers are only able to print rather small objects. Of course, it's possible to connect these print jobs to create a life size object, but this assembly is rarely factored into a consumer's purchase and sometimes comes as quite a shock when the time comes to actually put everything together. Simply put, you're not going to be printing off a new vehicle or house for yourself anytime soon. You can print the necessary components to create the shell of either object though!

So, what should consumers actually expect from their purchase? The three dimensional printing experience is one that's like no other. Imagine taking ideas for small objects and watching them appear right before your very eyes. This is what three dimensional printing offers. For the most part, consumers should expect to print smaller items like costume jewelry, figurines, and similar bits and pieces, but as previously mentioned there's nothing stopping consumers from printing a variety of small pieces and connecting them together to create a much larger item. 

3D printers have evolved quite a bit over the past few years and so has the market for users. No longer is it required for consumers to learn the principles behind three dimensional modelling for themselves. Instead, the Internet has made it possible for these printers to be well-supported by their users, some of who have become expert modelers. Consumers won't be hard pressed to find models of what they're looking for because of it. Some of these are freely available to download and print, but consumers shouldn't be surprised when they come across a database of paid-for models. It's understandable that those who have taken the time to learn such an advanced skill could want some compensation for their effort.

So, what's the best 3D printer out there? This is a difficult question to answer because it's largely dependent on so many variables. However, one thing that's for sure is that consumers will undoubtedly reach their own conclusions with a bit of research and insight. Once you've come to have an understanding of what three dimensional printing actually is, then you'll be in a much better position to determine the best product to suit your needs.

Printing 3D Models At Home

For so long, consumers have been limited in the options that they have available to them when it comes to printing scale models. Many consumers seem to incorrectly believe that this sort of technology is only to be found in larger settings, like commercial or industrial establishments. Fortunately, consumers are indeed wrong in both cases and it's becoming increasingly possible to print 3D models at home. What's more is that there's quite a bit of selection when it comes to accomplishing this task. So, how should consumers go about printing 3D models at home? Let's find out.

The entire printing process is largely dependent on the acquisition of models. That is, getting a hold of the digital files that contain the information that's fed to the printer. For many consumers, this will merely be downloading a digital file that contains the model in its entirety and is coded in such a way that it can be read by the printer. 

This is usually the easiest way of going about it for two reasons: 1) it ensures printers will accurately be able to read and copy the instructions its being fed, and 2) it prevents consumers from having a need to learn the advanced technical skill that's associated with this type of technology. Many times, learning 3D modelling is simply beyond the means of many consumers simply because it's such a precise craft. There's no room for error, or the results will definitely show when it comes time to actually print the model!

So, what do you do once you've got your hands on a 3D model? First and foremost, the file should be checked for its integrity, which is usually something that can be accomplished using the printer's driver software. This will ensure that the file can actually be read by the printer and will print something that's complete and, more often than not, what the consumer wants to print in the first place. 

So, what's the best 3D printer for the job? This is an idea that can largely be left up to the consumer. Many of the 3D printer options available on the market today will satisfy a consumer's need, but the question lies in what exactly the consumer requires from his device. The core functionality of three dimensional printing will be available, but these devices are so much more than just printers. 

For many, the footprint of the device itself is a concern. When people conjure images of these printers in their minds, they often conceive bulky, cumbersome products that don't quite fit into the traditional office space. In many respects, these images are right and are often what's found in an industrial setting where these printers are put to work on a regular (sometimes round the clock) basis. However, this isn't the case with those printers found at home. The majority of models are comparable to inkjet printers in terms of their footprint, so don't occupy all that much space at all. They're truly becoming the user-friendly option that consumers crave!

Three Dimensional Printing At Home

There's a growing shift towards more technically advanced hardware in the household. One of these changes is the movement away from inkjet printing. No, inkjet printing and even laser printing isn't going to disappear from the residential marketplace anytime soon, but consumers are demanding something else to use within their homes. That very demand is having access to three dimensional printers.

For so long, consumers who have demanded the scale recreations that only this sort of printing can provide have been limited in their options. While the idea of this has been made more mainstream over the past few years, it's still not enough for many: namely, those who want to do it within their own homes. Fortunately, this is becoming a reality now as more manufacturers are releasing the technology into space-friendly designs.

One of these is the Cube printer. This peripheral was manufactured by 3D Systems and is tentatively set to become one of the leading three dimensional printers on the market today. What it does is take the power of a commercial or industrial sized printer, then scales it into a more home-friendly design. It goes without saying that many of these printers are simply beyond the means of many households in terms of size and the sheer weight of the device makes positioning it within the home very difficult. This isn't a concern any longer though. The Cube rivals many inkjet printers in terms of its size, so is appropriately dimensioned for the typical tabletop setting that printers tend to find themselves.

Does this mean the Cube is the only option out there? Not by a long shot. MakerBot is also paving the way for at-home three dimensional printing. Since its launch in 2009, MakerBot has become synonymous with this application and is readily perceived as the best 3D printer in its class. This is simply because of its market saturation at one of the most well-picked times; although its product launch could have simply been due to excellent timing on behalf of its manufacturer, Stratasys. 

So, what does using a 3D printer at home actually entail? Well, for the majority of household users, it's nothing more than downloading existing 3D models and sending the job to the printer; then watching as their creation comes to life right before their very eyes. More often than not, this simplistic approach is because of the complexity of the actual modelling process. Unless users have some technical know-how, it tends to be beyond the means of many household users and few have taken the time to learn what's involved. Those who have, though, are reaping the rewards of their dedication. Three dimensional printing is a relatively untapped market, so those who develop models for the community are in a great position to sell them on and earn themselves a livelihood because of it. 

It will be interesting to see where this progresses as time goes on. One thing's for sure, though, and that's this sort of use is here to stay.