What Is A 3D Printer? – A Complete Guide

A 3d printer is a machine that makes a product by adding the raw material in a layer-by-layer fashion on the machine bed. The most popular types of 3d printers are the FDM 3d printers, which are the cheapest, and the SLA 3d printers, which are very accurate.

Types of 3D Printers

There are 8 types of 3d printers, as follows:

  1. Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) Printers
  2. Stereolithography (SLA) Printers
  3. Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) Printers
  4. Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) Printers
  5. Metal Binder Jetting (MBJ) Printers
  6. Digital Light Processing (DLP) Printers
  7. Selective Laser Melting (SLM) Printers

The first two types of machines can also be used by individuals, enthusiasts, and hobbyists, as they also come in small sizes. You can do prototyping on them, test your designs, etc. This is the reason behind the increasing popularity of FDM and SLA printers.

How Does A 3D Printer Work?

The working of a printer can be explained in the following steps:

3d modeling: A 3d model is prepared for the product that has to be made. This can be done in any 3d modeling software like onshape.

Slicing of 3d model: This 3d model is then put in a slicing software, which is converted into a digital program. This is a code that contains instructions in G and M codes. This code file is in the .gcode format. [G code stands for geometrical code & M code stands for miscellaneous code.]

Printing: The digital program (.gcode file) is put into the machine where the final product is printed. This can be done via a USB drive, memory card, or directly from a PC/laptop.

Removing extra material: Any additional material used while printing and not required, like rafts and supports, are removed. Sometimes strings are also formed in FDM printing; a heat gun/hair blower or cutters can remove them.

Finishing: Finishing is done with sandpaper, filer, and other finishing tools if it is required.

FDM 3D Printers

FDM 3d printers use plastic filaments (wire) as raw material. This filament comes in spools, which are held on a spool holder. From the spool holder, this filament is put into an extruder, which pushes the filament through the Bowden tube to the hotel, where it melts and finally comes out from the nozzle. The hotend and machine bed is moving according to the code to make the desired product on the machine bed.

fdm 3d printer

SLA 3D Printers

These machines use liquid resins as their raw material. A laser is used to solidify this resin in a layer-by-layer fashion according to the digital code or program. This digital code or program is made by slicing a 3d model in slicer software.

sla 3d printer

3D Printer Models

There are several brands and models are available to choose from. Here is a list of some of the popular brands and their models:

CrealityEnder 3FDM
Ender 3 ProFDM
Ender 3 S1FDM
Ender 5 FDM
Ender 5 ProFDM
Ender 5 PlusFDM
Ender 5 S1FDM
Ender 7FDM
PrusaPrusa MiniFDM
Prusa MK3FDM
Prusa MK4FDM
AnycubicKobra 2FDM
Kobra 2 MaxFDM
Kobra 2 ProFDM
Kobra 2 NeoFDM
Kobra 2 PlusFDM
Photon MonoSLA
ArtillerySidewinder SW-X2FDM
Sidewinder X3 ProFDM

Also Read: 

3D Printer Parts List
What Is 3D Printing?


Do 3d printers last?

Yes, with proper handling even stock 3d printers can last upto 5 to 8 years. You can always replace the damaged parts to make its life even longer.

Do 3d printers have a future?

Yes, 3d printers have a very bright future espacially in India. They are being used in batch manufacturing, prototyping, housing making, jewelry making, sculptures, architectural models, miniatures etc.

Can I 3d print my face?

Yes, anyone can 3d print his face. To 3d print your face first you have to 3d scan your face, you can do it by a 3d scanner.

Can I 3d print myself?

Yes, anyone can 3d himself or herself. To 3d print yourself first you have to 3d scan yourself, you can do it by a 3d scanner.

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