As we here at Trade Shades make our mark on the 3D printing world, we thought we’d share some insight into the basics of this industry.
3D printing, or additive manufacturing, is a process that creates a three dimensional shape from a digital 3D model. 3D printers accomplish this through building two dimensional layers on top of each other to create a three dimensional object.
There are effectively three main types of 3D printing. The first is known as Fused Deposition Modeling. The printer takes plastic material, heats it up, and extrudes the material in a precise way to lay down layers that will build on top of each other to create a 3D object. This is the technology that Trade Shades uses to create our customized product. Because the quality and accuracy of the printed object depend on the heated plastic to rapidly cool in the desired position once it has been extruded, there are limitations to the quality of objects being printed.
The second type of 3D printing is called Selective Laser Sintering. This method uses a laser to fuse together small particles of material in layers to slowly build a three dimensional object. The laser fuses powdered material together in a desired two dimensional pattern, then lowers the print bed one layer thickness and fuses another pattern over a new powder layer. The advantage of this printing method is that the objects being printed have no geometrical constraints, meaning any object that can be thought of, can be printed. The following video shows how this process is done.
The third type of printing is Stereolithography. This essentially creates a solid object from liquid. This technology uses an ultraviolet laser to cure and solidify patterns in liquid ultraviolet curable photopolymer resin. This method is very similar to Selective Laser Sintering in that it builds the object layer by layer, except instead of adding new material powder for each new layer, the platform lowers and new liquid covers the existing object. This method as well has no geometrical constraints when printing an object. The following video describes this method in further detail.