Hey Guys,

So one of the reasons that I've been so occupied is that my 3D printer is finally up and running!! I've been learning 3D modelling and other aspects of 3D printing to improve my printer.

Definition

(excerpt from Wikipedia)

3D printing (or additive manufacturing, AM) is any of various processes used to make a three-dimensional object. In 3D printing, additive processes are used, in which successive layers of material are laid down under computer control. These objects can be of almost any shape or geometry, and are produced from a 3D model or other electronic data source. A 3D printer is a type of industrial robot.

Introduction

To put that above definition into normal words, 3D printing is just the process of creating objects using a specialised printer. In the same way you use your regular printer to print 2D things on paper, a 3D printer is used to print physical 3D objects.

This technology, while still new an upcoming, is definitely the future. Think about it, imagine never having to go to a store to buy anything, you can print anything in the convenience of your home. There are already specialised 3d printers that can print in a variety of things including food, jewellery, make-up, metals, plastics etc. Though most of them are pretty unaffordable for the average person, there are a few which are now very affordable and more importantly fun and convenient to use.

The foremost example of that is a low end FDM(Fused deposition modelling) printer. These can print in a variety of materials including plastics, nylon, polycarbonates etc. The rest of this(and future) posts will be based on this type of printer.

What can you really print?

When I first ordered a 3D printer, this is what everyone asked me. Well the answer to this is basically limitless, you can print pretty much anything you want, whether it just be an action figure, or a maybe a showpiece for your room, or something practical like a remote holder, or for makers like me, a case for your raspberry pi, or any other project you might build. I have even used to to make a funky bulb holder for my room. To get an idea of what other people are printing, check out Thingiverse, which is basically a print model sharing website.

How does it print?

An FDM printer works by melting the material you want to print, and placing it layer by layer on top of each other after the previous layer cools. I know that sounds very vague, but the easiest way to describe it, is to show you. Here is a time-lapse of a rectangular pyramid which I used as a base for something else:

Now I'll explain whats happening here:

  • We "feed" the printer some filament, this is an example of some orange PLA filament I had lying around, it is 1.75mm in diameter.

  • The printer melts this filament in a hotend, this is my old hotend:

  • The printer then pushes this through a really small nozzle to create the string of plastic which will form the layer.

  • While this plastic is coming out of the nozzle, a 3 motors move it around(in the X,Y and Z directions) which create the final print.

You can see more time-lapses on the Youtube Channel.

My First Prints

From L-R : An Octopus, A cube, Yoda, High Heel Shoe, Squirtle Keychain, Dino, Superman Keychain
A custom remote holder for all my remotes. ##Drawbacks

Currently the main drawback of these printers other than the fact that they may be expensive, is that they are still slow, With a basic nozzle it took me 18 hours(!!!) to print that remote holder.

Whats next

My next post will be all about which printers you can buy and where you can get them!