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3d Printing Technology

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3D Printing Technology

To anyone who hasn’t seen it demonstrated, 3-D printing sounds space-age, like the meals that turn up in the Jetson’s oven at the touch of a keypad. The technology is quite straightforward and is a small evolutionary step from spraying toner on paper to putting down layers of something more substantial (such as plastic resin) until the layers add up to an object. And yet, by enabling a machine to produce objects of any shape, on the spot and as needed, 3-D printing really is leading in a new era. (Barnatt, 2013)

The use of 3D printing is quickly becoming a very affordable option for producing physical objects. The term ‘‘3D printing’’ covers a number of closely related technologies, all of which produce a 3-dimensional physical object from a computer model by building it up in successive layers. These technologies were developed primarily for use in rapid prototyping for industrial design; they allow a designer to convert a computer model of a prototype into a physical object quickly in comparison to most previously available technologies. (Massis, 2013)

The 3D printers use standard inkjet printing technology to create parts layer-by-layer by depositing a liquid binder onto thin layers of powder. Instead of feeding paper under the print heads like a 2D printer, a 3D printer moves the print heads over a bed of powder upon which it prints the cross-sectional data sent from the 3D printer software. The 3d printing system requires powder to be distributed accurately and evenly across the build platform. These 3D Printers accomplish these tasks by using a feed piston and platform, which rises incrementally for each layer. A roller mechanism spreads powder fed from the feed piston onto the build platform; intentionally spreading approximately 30 percent of extra powder per layer to ensure a full layer of...

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