FDM 3D Printing
It all starts with the design itself, before you can 3D print your object, you need the actual 3D representation thereof in a digital format, using CAD software one can design the object desired and export it in the required file format for the next step. Ready?
Now that you have your 3D design, we turn to a program referred to as the slicer where your model will be prepared for printing. The Slicer, along with its operator, is in charge of determining the best way for the 3D printer to fabricate your model. Once your model has been prepared, the Slicer translates all the data into a string of code, the only language a 3D Printer understands!
Let’s get printing! But wait, what do we print with? FDM 3D printers can be fed a wide variety of thermoplastics such as PLA, ABS, PETG, FLEXIBLE and even WOOD infused PLA! Your chosen filament is then fed through a heated nozzle with the help of an extruder mechanism, bringing the plastic to its melting point the printer is now ready to squeeze out that first layer of plastic onto the build platform. Once the plastic leaves the nozzle it cools and almost immediately hardens.
Now the printer needs to lay down plastic layer by layer to build your model! The print head, consisting of the nozzle and heating/cooling components, gets moved back and forth on the X and Y-axis whilst the build platform moves down on the Z-axis. Stepper motors control these very precise movements. When the 3D printer has read all code and performed all commands, you will have your finished 3D print in physical form, ready to be removed from the build platform and introduced to the real world!
Now that you understand the magic of 3D printing, lets make something awesome!