8 Commonly asked 3D Printer Questions

Introduction

The term 3D printer – or, more properly, additive manufacturing (AM) device – is used to refer to devices that can create three-dimensional objects by printing them layer-by-layer. So far, most of these machines work by extruding very hot material in layers; others use lasers to harden liquid resin into solid shapes. In both cases, this is accomplished by printing a cross-section of the object at a time. In 3D printers that use lasers or hardened liquids, the print platform moves from one end to another as each layer is printed.

In less than a decade 3D printing has become a household term, and there are already dozens of fairly inexpensive machines on the market. The most popular uses for these machines include prototyping new inventions and creating models of full objects – including architecture scale models and toys – which can then be used for things like casting molds or architectural mockups. More recently 3D printers have started being used in art projects; consequently allowing artists to create highly customized works with complex shapes without requiring them to go through any sort of middlemen.

The technology can be used to create anything from jewelry to food, tools, clothing, toys, and even large objects like buildings, vehicles, and spacecraft. The idea of creating full-sized structures is not new; in fact some of the earliest examples of 3D printing date back to the 19th century when the stuff was referred to as “contour crafting.” However, thanks to technological advancements over the years more complex structures are becoming viable.

How do Resin 3d printers work?

According to Wikipedia ” Resin 3D printing, also called powder-based lithography or binder jetting, is a type of additive fabrication technology used for making three-dimensional plastic objects from a digital model. The process uses a liquid epoxy resin ink which is cured by ultraviolet light to solidify it into a rigid object.”

Here is the step by step with which resin 3D printer works:

  1. The build platform slides down, and the resin cartridge gets slid in.
  2. Build platform raised up to the desired level where UV curing happens and passes through the UV lamp.
  3. The unsolidified part gets sucked out as thin lines (called anchor lines).
  4. Un solidified layer cures/solidifies as current layer rises upwards slowly after passing under UV curing beam, so that top surface cures as the bottom surface were already solidified.
  5. Raising/lowering happens again for the next layer to be cured, and so on until all layers are cured.
  6. The part that was left in the resin cartridge gets sucked out by vacuum to let you remove your part safely out of the machine.
  7. The machine starts hotend heating up to melt filament used for printing, which passes through nozzle tip underneath UV light source. 8. The next layer is extruded onto the build platform using liquid epoxy resin ink (filament).
  8. Build platform rises upwards, coming level with the last extruded line made out of liquid epoxy resin ink (see step 7) so that the new bottom surface cures as the top surface was already solidified from previous layer 10. Machine repeats step 3-9 until the object is finished.
  9. Object pops off build platform and rests on top of it, where to build platform has small clips to hold an object in place while waiting for the next object.
  10. UV light source turns off and hotend starts cooling down step by step.
  11. Build platform gets lowered a few millimeters below the level of liquid epoxy resin cartridge so that resin can solidify back quickly to be used for next print.
  12. The machine repeats steps 1-13 over and over again until all liquid epoxy resins are used up from cartridges
  13. Machine displays “ALL RESIN EXHAUSTED” message on control screen if one or more cartridges empty out during operation.
  14. User needs to replace the empty cartridge(s) with full cartridges, and start over from step 1.

How long do 3d printers take to print?

The process of 3D printing has been around for decades, yet it has only recently become more mainstream due to the growth in consumer-level 3D printers. As more people have started using these printers, some have begun worrying about how long it takes to print objects with one. While some are concerned simply because they want their item quickly, others are worried that the time may not justify the cost.

There are many factors that influence how long a 3D print will take. When thinking about how long does a 3D printer take to print an object, it is important to consider these variables:

  1. Type of filament used (ABS plastic, PLA plastic)
  2. Size and complexity of the object being printed

Both of these factors are equally significant to the amount of time that a print job will take. The type of filament used can make a huge difference in how long it takes for your printer to complete your desired object. Polylactic acid (PLA) filaments are lighter and easier to use, while also being more brittle than their ABS counterpart. This means PLA is ideal for items that need to be durable but still have flexibility. ABS plastic is much tougher than PLA, so it is better suited for objects that require greater strength or durability.

While the type of filament used affects the overall strength and durability of an object, it also has a direct effect on how long does a 3D printer take. For example, something made out of ABS plastic might take twice as long to print as something made out of PLA because it is much stronger.

Another factor that affects the length of time it takes to print an object with a 3D printer is its size and complexity. Larger objects will naturally take longer to complete, but printers are limited by the size of their building platform. This means if you have a small printing area, then your printer can only print small objects. If you want to create larger items, you will need a bigger platform so there is more space for your model to sit while it undergoes printing.

As far as the complexity goes, this refers to how many outside features are being printed along with the base design itself. For example, imagine trying to print a simple block in the shape of a cube. The inside will consist of a single cube, while the outside will have 6 other cubes printed around it for each of the outside faces. This means that if you are printing this, your printer will create 1 large cube which is 6 smaller cubes joined together, to give us 7 cubes total.

How small can 3d printers print?

It is not a question of whether they can, but whether there’s any need for them too. In most applications, they can already print down to the millimeter level and have been doing so for quite a few years now. It really depends on your application if you need that precision. At present, I know of no printer that will do what you want at a price point that makes sense. If this is an actual requirement then you will probably be looking at machines in the kilo dollar range(USD).

If you want something really tiny, look for micro-desktop 3D printers. These usually cost around US$1000, so they are still not as cheap as regular desktop printers. But you can expect quality resolution just like with big FDM 3D printers that have their own build platforms and at least one nozzle where the melted plastic is deposited before each layer.

How much power do 3d printers use?

3d printers use a lot of power because they use a stepper motor to move the nozzle and that drives a lot of watts. When you look at where you can cut down on power consumption, it begins with the print size. The bigger the print, the more material you’re going to use and, subsequently, the more electricity it will take to heat and extrude that filament.

The nozzle heats a filament of material, which is ultimately deposited in a pattern to create an object. The minimum requirement for a printer to be considered a 3-D printer is that it has both an extruder head and some kind of controller or computer that can execute instructions from CAD software or another type of file format created by the original designer, such as STL. Without this control system, what you get will not resemble what you see on your screen. In order to control these actions, all 3-D printers require electricity. Therefore, power consumption should factor into any decision regarding buying one.

3d printers use a lot of power because they use a stepper motor to move the nozzle and that drives a lot of watts

The print platform also has an effect on your total energy consumption. A heated bed is necessary for printed objects to adhere properly; as such 3-D printer nozzles rely on some sort of contact (thermal or otherwise) between themselves and whatever surface they are printing on. This is a reason why your first print usually requires some sort of adhesive or support material, as the printer will need to re-position itself multiple times during a single print job. Some materials are better suited for the platform than others. For example, PLA prints stick well to glass but not so much to aluminum foil.

In general, 3d printing takes up a lot of power through its high temperatures and because you have to keep the nozzle from clogging by using very low viscosity plastic. This is a more specialized question, though: what filament are you using? Many filaments require higher temperatures simply due to their makeup; ABS plastic, for example, requires a bed temperature of around 100C in order for it to adhere to the platform. Nylon is another common plastic, but it has a much higher glass transition temperature (roughly 150C) and must be printed at even higher temperatures compared to other materials.

Clothing 3d printers use less power because they are smaller or have smaller print beds which makes them easier to control/manage power consumption for. They also use PLA instead of ABS which doesn’t require high enough temperatures for your average clothing printer that runs off of 110V

When you look at where you can cut down on power consumption, it begins with the print size. The bigger the print, the more material you’re going to use and, subsequently, the more electricity it will take to heat and extrude that filament.

How loud are 3d printers?

3d printers are a modern invention that has made the process of prototyping and designing objects much faster and cheaper. 3d printing is an additive manufacturing process, which means that materials are added together to create the desired design. This allows for a vast range of different applications from rapid prototyping models in engineering projects to creating prototype components for testing before sending them off to be manufactured. Because it has been such a revolutionary product there has been a lot of research carried out on how loud 3d printers actually are as well as their decibel levels.

In order to calculate how loud 3d printers are researchers take measurements at various distances from the printer, microphones are used in order to pick up sounds around the printer itself, this is then taken to a sound lab where it will be processed and then the decibel level can be established

It has been found that at a one-meter distance from the printer, the measured volume levels were between 50~60db (A). At this level, health and safety guidelines state that you should not have to raise your voice above a conversation pace in order for someone to hear you. This allows us to conclude that 3d printers are significantly louder than a conversation at normal speaking volumes so within close proximity of between 1m – 2m they would pose a threat to hearing if used over a protracted period. In addition, another study showed that using earplugs completely absorbs all sounds emitted from 3d printers which allows them to operate without disrupting others.


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Ahmad Raza
By Ahmad Raza

As well as being a content writer, Ahmad Raza is the Head of Content and editing at Tech Reviews Cafe. He holds degrees in English and Journalism from Leads University-Lahore. You can find him on Linkedin or contact him via email (techreviewscafe@gmail.com).


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