The digital designs can be created from scratch by using 3D modelling software like Autodesk, a 3D scanner, a digital camera and photogrammetry software.
There are different techniques and different types of 3D printers. The materials also vary – for example, plastic, rubber, metals, alloys, etc. – but the basic approach remains the same.
1. The first step is to make a virtual design of the object in a Computer Aided Design (CAD) file using a 3D modelling program (for a new object) or 3D scanner (copying an existing object).
2. In the 3D modelling software, the output model is spliced into many thousands of horizontal layers (2D image).
3. The file is uploaded to the 3D printer where the 2D image is read and the object is created by blending the layers together to create a 3D object.
4. The 3D object is made by melting plastic and depositing it onto the printer platform, as specified by the design, where it instantly cools.
More in depth we will explore the topic related to smart manufacturing in the upcoming issue of our .experience magazine.