How does 3D printer work?

How does 3D printer work?

5 minute read

How does 3D printer work?

In fact, although there are many different brands of 3D printers, they all basic working principle is same. How does 3D printer work?



Basic working principle

It is well known that paper printers print flat images, and the digital images are what we see when we zoom in on a single "pixel" of pure color, which can be thought of as being stored by marking a color value with each coordinate point.




So that makes sense, if we can figure out a "nozzle" that can move freely on a plane, and spray pixels in that frame, we're done printing.


sprinkler head

The paper can be brought down by a scroll wheel, which is to complete the motion of the Y-axis, and the clever little spout in the middle moves left and right, which is to complete the motion of the X-axis, so that a flat picture is printed.


How does the nozzle in the middle move?

And this is what we call the timing belt, which is what we call the toothed band, and this thing, when it's paired with the gears, it's free to drive, which means that in general, very sensitive devices like printers, you have to use the toothed band as the transmission.


timing belt


Some people say why you're talking so much crap. I want to listen to the 3d printing. Don't worry. Let’s take a look at this, the carrier of planar printing is paper, so we need to print three-dimensional things, and planar printing uses sprays of "pigments", so 3d printing must use real materials.

Printing filament

That is to say, in our common 3d printers, the printing material is changed from ink to "thermoplastic". What is called thermoplastic? Once heated, the plastic becomes soft and melted, but once cooled, it returns to its original state. Nowadays, the most common 3d printing materials are ABS and PLA. ABS is a very common synthetic plastics, and the essence is A (acrylonitrile), B (butadiene) and S (styrene). Forget it. PLA in the low melting point, basic in 185 ° C can melt processing, so also is the most common type of printed materials, as to why this material is the same wire and wool, actually very simple, if you put a plastic (aggregate) in a hot shower, will be closed within two minutes, this wire is "slow".



Ok, we have the material, we don't have the carrier. Ok, let's add a hotbed. Well, the platform is set up, the X and Y axes are free to move, and the nozzle are free to reach any position of the plate.



Axis of the 3D printer

So one of the things that missing is the Z axis. We added the "magic" of the machine, the "lead screw", to a mix of nozzle that could move back and forth on the X-axis. The screw, we can also think of it as a big screw, and the place where it fits is a nut. Once the screw is driven by the motor, the nozzle will move up and down freely.


Z axis


Well, we're not just a nozzle anymore; we're a nozzle that can move around in space. Let's look at the renderings.


3D printer renderings


In fact, this is the basic transmission structure of 3d printers, which is not very complicated, but essentially a nozzle that can move freely in three shafts.


How does 3D printer work?

We found that the so-called 3d printing essentially means melting the thermoplastic plastics, and then spraying the finer "threads" at the nozzle, and then spraying up layer by layer, and layering up layer by layer. In essence, 3d printing is just a combination of layer by layer "planes" to make it become three-dimensional.


How does 3D printer work


We all know that if we print a plane picture, we can usually make a JPG picture, then in 3d printing, we usually use what "file" to print? STL file, which is the mode for 3D printing. Ok, so the next step is to import the STL file into the driver software, and we can start printing. We usually use CURA to print, you can refer to this post: Cura 3D slicing software installation and operation


3D printing


Actually, this is the end of the story. We can use this physical picture to look at the inside of the 3d printer. Actually, it is similar to the modeling diagram I started with, but it may look a little bit messier.


Wrap up

In fact, there is a saying about 3d printing: the idea of the 19th century, the basic technology of the 20th century, and the market of the 21st century.


Today the industrial design is progressive and the modeling software is innovative, 3D printing for complex modeling of mass production and customization and polymer processing has immeasurable space, 3D printing is still in the 21st century will be rapid development, in the generation of designer and manufacturer of efforts, I believe that 3D printing can be really, completely change the world.

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