What Is 3D Printing and How Does It Work? + Applications

What Is 3D Printing and How Does It Work?

What Is 3D Printing and How Does It Work – 3D printing is a method of creating items layer by layer using computer-aided design, or CAD. 3D printing is widely utilized in manufacturing and automotive industries to create tools and parts. As 3D printing’s capabilities expand, so does its value: by 2029, the 3D printing industry is expected to be worth $84 billion. Because of this development, we will undoubtedly interact with 3D-printed objects, as well as houses and structures.

Linquip contains a lot of information about different types of 3D printers that will help you make an informed decision. We can assist you choose the best 3D printer, no matter the situation. Linquip provides a diverse range of 3D Printer Products to ensure that you may find one that suits your requirements.

A comprehensive list of 3D printers is available to all OEM fleets on Linquip’s website. Linquip vendors can help you with this. For more information on how to find a diverse choice of Service Providers who consistently offer high-quality items, please contact 3D Printers Experts. If you want to know how much a 3D printer will cost, the Linquip platform offers a free quotation request service from various 3D Printer Suppliers and Companies.

What Is 3D Printing?

3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is an approach of creating three-dimensional solid items from a digital file. The generation of a 3D printed object is accomplished via the use of additive processes. An item is manufactured using an additive technique by laying down consecutive layers of material until the product is complete. Each of these layers may be viewed as a thinly sliced cross-section of the object.

3D printing is the inverse of subtractive manufacturing, which includes using a milling machine to hollow out or cut a piece of metal or plastic. 3D printing makes it possible to create complicated shapes using less material than traditional production processes.

Sintering, melting, and stereolithography are the three primary forms of 3D printing technology.

  • Sintering: Sintering is a high-resolution manufacturing technique in which the material is heated but not melted. For direct metal laser sintering, metal powder is utilized, whereas thermoplastic powders are used for selective laser sintering.
  • Melting: Powder bed fusion, electron beam melting, and direct energy deposition are 3D printing melting processes that employ lasers, electric arcs, or electron beams to print objects by melting the materials together at high temperatures.
  • Stereolithography: This technology employs photopolymerization to generate parts.  This method uses the proper light source to selectively interact with the material in order to cure a cross section of the product in thin layers.
What Is 3D Printing and How Does It Work?
3D Printing Technology  (Reference: blog.ipleaders.in)

How Does 3D Printing Work?

The process of 3D printing begins with the creation of a graphic model of the object to be printed. These are often developed using Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software programs, which can be the most time-consuming aspect of the procedure. These models are frequently thoroughly examined in simulation for any potential defects in the final product for complicated items. Of course, if the printed product is just decorative, this is less significant.

One of the primary advantages of 3D printing is that it enables for the rapid prototyping of almost anything. The only true constraint is your imagination. In reality, some products are just too complicated to be made using more typical manufacturing or prototype techniques like CNC machining or molding. It is also significantly less costly than many other typical manufacturing procedures.

Following design, the model is digitally sliced to prepare it for printing. This is an important step since a 3D printer cannot visualize a 3D model in the same way that you or I can. The slicing process divides the model into multiple layers. The design for each layer is then supplied to the printer head in order to be printed, or laid down.

This is also an area where 3D printers excel. They can print incredibly strong materials with very low densities by strategically inserting pockets of air into the final product. Where necessary, the slicing program will insert support columns. Because plastic cannot be put down in thin air, the columns assist the printer in bridging the gaps. These columns are then eliminated if necessary.

The data is then delivered to the printer for the final stage when the slicer program has completed its work. The 3D printer takes over from here. It will begin printing the model according to the slicer program’s particular instructions, utilizing various methods depending on the type of printer utilized.

What Is 3D Printing and How Does It Work?
How 3D Printing Works. (Reference: my3dconcepts.com)

The overall printing procedure is usually the same regardless of the type of 3D printer utilized:

Step 1: Using CAD software, create a 3D model.

Step 2: Convert the CAD drawing to the standard tessellation language (STL) format. STL files, as well as other file formats like ZPR and ObjDF, are commonly used by 3D printers.

Step 3: Transfer the STL file to the computer that runs the 3D printer. The user specifies the size and direction for printing.

Step 4: The 3D printer is assembled. Each machine has its unique setup requirements, such as refilling the printer’s polymers, binders, and other consumables.

Step 5: Turn on the machine and wait for the build to finish. During this period, the machine should be examined on a frequent basis to ensure that there are no faults.

Step 6: Remove the printed product from the machine.

Post-processing is the final phase. Many 3D printers require post-processing, such as brushing away any residual powder or washing the produced item to remove water-soluble supports. Curing the new item may also be required.

3D printers, like ordinary printers, employ a variety of printing processes. There are several 3D printing procedures, but here are a few of the most prevalent.

Stereolithography (SLA)

Stereolithography (SLA) was the first 3D printing process invented. It makes objects out of thin air by printing layers upon layers of a certain photopolymer on top of itself. When exposed to a focused UV laser beam, the substance transforms from a liquid to a solid.

Digital Light Processing (DLP)

DLP, like stereolithography, uses light to harden a liquid. In digital light processing, however, the object begins as a vat of full liquid. 

When a piece of the liquid is exposed to light, it hardens, and the build plate is lowered slightly. Another flash of light hardens more of the liquid, and the cycle continues. Any remaining liquid is drained, leaving just a solid model.

Electron Beam Melting (EBM)

EBM is a metal-parts 3D printing method. The procedure is carried out in a vacuum and begins with the application of a coating of metal powder (most often titanium). The powder is subsequently melted into a solid layer by an electron beam. Objects made in this manner are remarkably thick and strong.

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)

SLS uses a high-powered laser to fuse material particles (such as plastic, glass, ceramic, and metal) into a three-dimensional mass.

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)

FDM employs a heated extrusion nozzle, which melts a material (e.g., plastic) as it exits. Through computer-aided controls, the nozzle may move horizontally and vertically. The substance hardens extremely quickly as it exits the nozzle.

Multi-Jet Modeling (MJM)

MJM works in the same way as current InkJet printers do. It sprays a colorful binding glue-like material that solidifies the powder into a single layer after spreading a coating of resin powder. Because it is rapid and offers multicolor printing, multi-jet modeling is particularly helpful.

3D Printing Applications

What is the goal of a 3D printer? It’s like asking, “How many different ways can a photocopier be used?” The only limit, in principle, is your imagination. In reality, the limitations are your printer’s precision, the accuracy of the model from which you print, and the materials you print with. Modern 3D printing was invented over 25 years ago, but it has only just begun to gain traction. Despite the fact that much of the technology is still in its early phases, the variety of possibilities for 3D printing is remarkable.


Life is a one-way street, and imperfect, aging individuals with wrinkling, collapsing bodies see immense hope in a technology that has the capacity to manufacture new body parts and tissue. That is why doctors were among the first to investigate 3D printing. Already, we’ve seen 3D printed ears (from the Indian business Novabeans), muscles (from Cornell University), and limbs and legs (from Limbitless Solutions, Biomechanical Robotics Group, and Bespoke). 3D printers have also been employed to create artificial tissue (Organovo), cells (Samsara Sciences), and skin (in collaboration with cosmetics giant L’Oreal and Organovo).  Despite the fact that we are still a long way from having completely 3D printed replacement organs (such as hearts and livers), progress is being made. The Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine in North Carolina handles a project called “Body on a Chip”, which prints small human hearts, blood arteries, and lungs, places them on a microchip, and tests them with artificial blood.

What Is 3D Printing and How Does It Work?
3D Printed Organoid  (Reference:medicaldevice-network.com)

Aside from body parts replacement, 3D printing is rapidly being employed in medical teaching and training. Surgeons at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami, Florida, practice on 3D-printed replicas of children’s hearts. The same procedure is used to practice brain surgery elsewhere.

Aerospace and Defense

Designing and testing airplanes is a difficult and expensive business: a Boeing Dreamliner has over 2.3 million components! Although computer models may be used to investigate many aspects of plane behavior, actual prototypes are still needed for activities such as wind tunnel testing. And 3D printing is a quick and straightforward way to do this. While commercial airplanes are mass-produced, military planes are more likely to be highly customized—and 3D printing allows for the rapid design, testing, and production of low-volume or one-off parts.

Spacecraft are considerably more complicated than airplanes, and they have the additional disadvantage of being “produced” in small quantities—sometimes just one is ever constructed. Instead of investing in custom tools and manufacturing equipment, it may be more cost effective to 3D print one-off components. But why manufacture space components on Earth at all? It is difficult, expensive, and time-consuming to ship sophisticated and large buildings into space; the capacity to create items on the Moon or other planets might be important. It’s simple to imagine astronauts (or even robots) utilizing 3D printers to create whatever items (including spare parts) they want, far from Earth, whenever they need them. However, even traditional, Earth-born space missions may benefit from 3D printing’s speed, simplicity, and low cost. Stratasys 3D-printed elements are used in the newest NASA Rover that supports humans.

What Is 3D Printing and How Does It Work?
Aerospace 3D Printing Companies News at Paris Air Show  (Reference:3dprintingmedia.network)


Making prototypes of space rockets or airplanes is only one example of a far larger application for 3D printing: seeing how new ideas will appear in three dimensions. Of course, we can utilize virtual reality for this, but people generally prefer things they can see and touch. 3D printers are increasingly being utilized for quick, precise architectural modeling. Although we cannot (yet) 3D print in materials like brick and concrete, there are a variety of polymers that can be painted to seem like realistic building finishes. Similarly, 3D printing is increasingly commonly utilized for prototyping and testing industrial and consumer products. Because many daily objects are made of plastic, a 3D printed model can resemble the completed product—ideal for focus-group testing or market research.

Personalized Products

Modern life is here-today, gone-tomorrow—convenient, affordable, and disposable—from plastic toothbrushes to candy wrappers. However, not everyone enjoys mass production, which is why pricey “designer labels” are so popular. More of us will be able to experience the benefits of inexpensive, customized items built to our exact specifications in the future. Jewelry and fashion items are already 3D printed.

“Customized products” aren’t only items we buy and use; they might even include the meals we consume. Cooking takes time, expertise, and patience since producing a delicious meal entails much more than just combining ingredients and heating them on a burner. Most meals can be 3D printed since they can be extruded (squeezed through nozzles) in theory. Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories made some strange items out of sugar a few years ago. A.J. Jacobs, a New York Times columnist, pushed himself in 2013 to print a full meal—including the plate and cutlery. Within the process, he came across the work of Hod Lipson of Cornell University, who believes that meals will one day be 3D printed to fit your body’s exact nutritional needs.

Advantages and Disadvantages of 3D Printing

The below are some of the advantages of 3D printing:

  • Customized, low-cost production of complex geometries: This technique enables the easy fabrication of unique geometric parts where added complexity comes at no additional cost. Because no extra material is utilized, 3D printing can be less expensive than subtractive    manufacturing processes in some cases.
  • Low start-up costs: Because no molds are required, the expenses connected with this production technique are quite inexpensive. The cost of a part is proportional to the amount of material used, the time necessary to construct the part, and any post-processing that may be required.
  • Totally customizable: Because the method is based on computer-aided designs (CAD), any product changes are simple to implement without affecting production costs.
  • Perfect for rapid prototyping: Because the technology enables for small quantities and in-house production, this procedure is perfect for prototyping, as products may be generated faster than with more traditional manufacturing processes and without reliance on external supply chains.
  • Allows the creation of parts with certain properties: Although plastics and metals are the most often used materials in 3D printing, there is also the possibility of producing components from precisely customized materials with specified qualities. For example, components with high heat resistance, water repellency, or greater strengths can be developed for specialized applications.

Among the drawbacks of 3D printing are:

  • Can be less strong than traditional manufacturing: While certain parts, such as those made of metal, have superior mechanical qualities, many other 3D printed parts are fragile when compared to those generated using traditional manufacturing processes. This is due to the parts being built up layer by layer, which diminishes the strength by 10 to 50%.
  • Cost growth at high volume: Because economies of scale do not apply as they do in other traditional technologies, large production runs are more expensive with 3D printing. Estimates indicate that when comparing similar items, 3D printing is less cost efficient than CNC machining or injection molding in quantities more than 100 units, assuming the parts can be fabricated conventionally.
  • Accuracy limitations: The accuracy of a printed part is determined by the type of machine and/or method employed. Some desktop printers have lesser tolerances than others, which means that the finished components may change somewhat from the designs. While this may be corrected with post-processing, it should be noted that 3D printed parts are not always precise.
  • Post-processing requirements: Post-processing is required for the majority of 3D printed parts. This might include sanding or smoothing to get the desired finish, removing support struts to allow the materials to be built up into the desired shape, heat treatment to achieve certain material qualities, or final machining.

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