What is 3D Printing?

0.2mm Layer height, No Support, no cleaning up after print

Many people have heard of 3D printing but don’t really know what it is or what it’s for.

Below I’ll go through just a few areas where 3D printing really does shine, including hobbies, business and education.

 

What is it?

It’s a like a little factory robot. that can make things for you.

 

The computer controlled print head heats a plastic string called filament and then pushes it out layer by layer, building the desired object.

The head is driven by small stepper motors which are controlled by a small computer, you print directly from an SD card or plug in a PC

 

 Objects can be downloaded for free from many websites such as Thingiverse or you can easily learn to design your own objects with free online tools such as TinkerCAD  

Some things are fun

Fidget Spinner
Some beautiful

“Gyroid” by Bathsheba Sculpture

and some downright crazy

“Ilabo” – 3D printed shoes by Ross Lovegrove’s

Whats it for?

Realistically, for most people, 3D printing makes most sense as a hobby, for a small business or for education.

It’s perfect for hobbyists interested in electronics or robotics, to create custom containers or parts, you can even print a flying drone.

3D printed Drone

 

Businesses may use it for prototyping components before they go in for real manufacturing, or to model a development before it is built. 3D printing can also be used to create models for sale, book marks, paper clips, only limited by your imagination.

 

An example of an alternator bracket for a SB Chevy that was prototyped by Concept One using 3D printing techniques.

A model produced by Hobs Studio of London’s Victoria Station helped the construction team by displaying different sections in colour

 

It has great advantages when it comes to education. Being able to create objects on the screen and then print the real thing can really encourage children whether it be artistic, mathematical or mechanical models. Many students with an interest in Mechanical engineering find 3D printing an excellent way to understand the subject. Our printer is in use in over 75 Schools, Collages and Universities in China.

 

Is it difficult?

There’s a bit of a learning curve, but there would be no sense of achievement without one 😉

To build the kit can take a little time and require some head scratching but following the step by step instructions will get you there. Printing itself, once everything is setup correctly, is no more complicated than using a regular inkjet printer.

There’s a little more maintenance involved with a 3D printer when compared with an inkjet. 3D printers however are designed to be maintained and even improved by the owner. Our printers are built with standard parts available from any hardware shop, and we even give you the models for the 3D printable parts, so you can build yourself a new printer if you wish.

 

 

What does it cost?

Not as much as you’d think is the short answer. In Malaysia the prices have been kept artificially high for quite some time, printers costing almost double that of elsewhere, however that is changing and as the uptake increases the prices for the consumables drops.

The printer itself, we sell for RM 988 for the kit  Filament is available through Lelong and Lazada for between RM 60 – 80 for 1KG for standard PLA, more exotic materials such as flexible or glow in the dark can cost more. But 1KG is a lot of plastic and should last quite some time, unless you are printing a life sized model of the Taj Mahal 😀

 

Summary

The cost and complexity of 3D printing has now dropped to the point where anyone will be capable of downloading and printing or even creating and printing their own objects with very little effort. It really is something to be enjoyed.

 

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