From plastic toys to human prosthetics, many things we see today are produced effortlessly by 3D printing. From automobiles to aeronautics, 3D printing has pervaded every field to produce prototypes and functional parts. In marketing, 3D printing comes really handy in designing promotional materials like color changing mugs, acrylic paperweights or key chains etc.
With all this hype about it, shouldn’t we know more about 3D printing? Let’s start.
What is 3D printing?
3D printing is the process of producing three- dimensional physical objects from digital designs. Simply put, real 3D objects are created from digital files by the process of 3D printing. These digital files can be visuals downloaded from the internet or images are drawn using CAD or Autodesk. The object is created by adding 3D materials layer by layer.
History of 3D printing
Chuck Hull invented the process of 3D printing.
Actually, in 1983, he patented a process called “stereo lithography” which he defined as a “method of creating solid objects by printing successive layers of UV-curable material on top of one another. Initially meant for liquids, Hull soon realized that this method could be adopted for all materials which could alter their shape and solidify. This was the foundation of 3D printing. This process also called additive manufacturing, was meant initially for industrial use. But in 2009, after the advent of the desktop 3D printing machines, the market saw boom resulting in the presence of roughly 300,000 3D printers currently in the world today.
How does 3D printing work?
First, a copy of the digital 3D design of the object is scanned to act as the blueprint for printing the object. This digital copy is converted into a .stl format. This design is then sliced into layers and sent to the 3D printer. Now the 3D printer uses the provided raw material to generate solid layers according to the design and adds then one on top of the other to get the final output. The resolution of the output depends on the printing time. Longer the printing time, better the resolution rendered. The print speed, layer thickness and print resolution can be calibrated before the printing begins.
The raw materials that can be used with 3D printers are plastic, metal, rubber, alloy, sandstone etc. Depending on the type of material used, the technology and the type of printer used, varies.
Methods of 3D printing
The objective of 3D printing services is to transform 2D drawings or images into 3D objects. To achieve this, any one of the following 3 methods are used.
Here a vat of UV-curable photopolymer resin is extruded as layers and solidified using a UV laser. This process has high speed and adaptability to give different shades.
FDM-Fused Deposition Modelling
Here a stencil of the object is taken and its aspect is created by expelling small dots of the thermoplastic material that solidifies instantly on extrusion from the nozzle. Depending upon the layout of the design, the nozzle moves vertically and horizontally, depositing the layers.
SLS-Selective laser sintering
SLS uses a high-density carbon-dioxide laser as the power source. The energy from this power source is directed to coalesce powdered material directly into a solid mass without liquefaction.
Applications of 3D printing for producing colour-changing mugs
From houses to dresses to even chocolates or organs, anything can be printed using the 3D printer. In marketing, colour-changing mugs are printed using 3D printing to get the best resolution and results.
The advantage of using 3D sublimation process for printing colour-changing mugs is
- The Perfect resolution even on fragile surfaces like bone china
- Safe and reliable operation with automatic heat sensing
- Economical as many mugs can be printed at once.