Advertisement
Continue to Site »

 
Trending
Graphic Content: 6 Materials Mix Strong Shapes and Colors
  Nothing salacious here—just shapes and colors making strong statements. Here ...
Olson Kundig Creates Seattle and Miami Art Pavilions
Outpost Basel at Design Miami/Basel. Photography by Kevin Scott. Olson ...
A Home Run: Good Tidings Foundation by MBH Architects
  Foundation headquarters in Burlingame. Photography by Misha Bruk. The 1989 ...
Murray Moss and Paddle8 Come Together for Auction
  From August 26 through September 9, auction house Paddle8 is ...
Growing Together: 2015 CODAawards Honor Artists and Designers
  Paying tribute to the integration of commissioned art with ...

JOB ZONE

jobseekers:

employers:

 
Weekly Poll
What market segment is giving your firm the most work?

    Calendar Upcoming Events
    Aug 30
    New York, NY, United States

    BITAC Global 2015

    Sep 04
    Villepinte , France

    Maison&Objet Paris

    Sep 16
    San Francisco, CA

    IIDA Leaders Breakfast San Francisco 2015

    Sep 16
    New York, NY

    Health Design Insights and Networking

    Sep 18
    Los Angeles, CA

    IIDA Leaders Breakfast Los Angeles 2015


    Close Search by date

    or See All Upcoming Events

    industry_article_detail_left_zone

    What Exactly is 3-D Printing?

    Behrokh Khoshnevis "Contour Crafting", 2012, Layered fabrication technology for automated construction. Shown: NASA Poster of Lunar Construction. Photo courtesy of Dr. Behrokh Khoshnevis.Behrokh Khoshnevis "Contour Crafting", 2012, Layered fabrication technology for automated construction. Shown: NASA Poster of Lunar Construction. Photo courtesy of Dr. Behrokh Khoshnevis.


    3-D printing is a computer-controlled, digital fabrication process in which thin layers of material are precisely built-up by a machine to create a three-dimensional object, not unlike coil-building a clay pot. A two-dimensional analogy of this method would be the dot matrix printer from the 1980s in which a print head ran horizontally back and forth slowly building up rows of ink dots into page text. The 3-D printer achieves this in three dimensions using a variety of materials including plastic, ceramic, metal, and glass. Unique to this technology is the ability to print articulated, moveable joints, like the foldable ribs of an umbrella, with no need for assembly.


    The overall process begins by creating a virtual object on the computer as a digital model. Specialized computer-aided design (CAD) software is utilized to determine the shape and appearance.  A 3-D scanner—a device that optically records the information from an existing object—may also be employed, in which case the data is sent to the computer and used to construct the digital model. This object data, saved as an electronic file, is mathematically sliced and sent to the 3-D printer as a succession of layers that correspond to virtual cross-sections in the digital model, providing a path for the printer to follow. From the bottom to top the cross-sections are printed by the machine, layer by layer, controlled by computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software. The layers, which may be as thin as 16 microns, adhere together and the object is fully realized. In general the size of an object is limited by the dimensions of the “build chamber”—the space within the 3D printer that contains the material and where this additive process occurs. The larger the build chamber the more expensive the machine. There are six basic methods of 3D printing:

    1. Stereolithography (SLA), commercially introduced in 1986, traces an ultraviolet laser beam onto the surface of a build chamber filled with liquid resin. The pattern of the laser beam, which hardens the photoreactive resin, corresponds to a single cross-section of the digital model. After the first layer is cured the chamber bed moves down, a fresh layer of liquid resin is drawn across the surface, and the next cross-section is traced, which hardens onto the previous layer, and so on. After the solid object is complete the chamber bed rises out of the resin bath.

    2. Laser Sintering, also known as Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), was developed in the mid-1980s and commercialized in 1992. This technology uses a laser beam to liquefy and harden together layers of powdered plastic, metal, ceramic, or glass. After the first layer is cured the powder bed moves down, a new layer of powder applied across the surface, and the next cross-section traced and fused onto the previous layer. When the object is complete it is excavated from the powder bed, with the unused material blown off by air pressure and recycled for later use.


    3. Fused-deposition modeling (FDM)
    , developed in 1988 and commercialized in 1990, is an extrusion process that utilizes a coil of plastic filament or metal wire fed into an extrusion nozzle that heats and liquefies the material. The CAM software directs the nozzle to deposit the first layer of liquefied plastic in the cross-section pattern determined by the CAD software. This quickly cools and the next layer is deposited directly on top, fuses, and hardens. This is the technology currently employed by the desktop printers targeted to the general consumer.


    Other 3D printing technologies include Direct Laser Metal Sintering (DMLS), a process similar to SLS using metal alloy; Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM), which adheres layers of laser-cut paper; and Powder Bed and Inkhead Jet 3D Printing, which is plaster-based.


    <
    Benchmark Applications in 3-D Printing
    How Will 3-D Printing Impact the Future of Design?

    industry_article_detail_central_zone