What is 3D Printing?
3D printing is not a new phenomenon, within engineering circles the technology has been around for approximately 20 years, however it’s only recently, within the last few years, that it’s started reaching the mainstream. This is ultimately due to advances in the technology with the price of a basic starter desktop printer now achievable for most businesses and enthusiasts.
So what exactly is 3D printing?
3D printing refers to the process of manufacturing three-dimensional objects one layer at a time through the use of a digital file otherwise known as a 3D model. Think of it as ink printing on a sheet of paper but instead of stopping with one layer of ink you have multiple layers of ink until eventually the ink raises off the paper creating a 3 dimensional object rather than a 2 dimensional drawing.
At 3D Print Group we believe there are many benefits of 3D printing. Bespoke prototypes of components can be quickly and economically printed and it is an ideal way of proving designs prior to manufacture from more traditional techniques. You may have an obsolete part which can no longer be sourced and 3D printing is perfect for such a scenario. 3D Print Group can organise for the part to be collected, we can scan the part, produce the 3D model and finally provide you with an accurate, to scale print in the material and colour of your choice.
Our models are most commonly created with either PLA or ABS thermoplastics, using soluble supports throughout the 3D printing process to ensure accurate parts are achieved. Both of these thermoplastics have their own benefits and capabilities and there are factors to consider when deciding on print material, such as complexity of part, strength, finish, and final use. One noticeable difference between PLA over ABS is the ability to add other materials such as stainless steel, wood, and elastic polymers to the thermoplastics, for example PLA filament with 30% stainless steel added is now readily available.
Of course other materials are also available depending on the type of printer, and the technology is developing rapidly, printing companies are experimenting with a whole host of various types of materials from metals, gold, ceramics, paper and even food.
3D Printing Technologies
The big three technologies in the industry are Stereo-lithography Apparatus (SLA) using the UV curing of liquid resin; Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) the laser sintering of powders; and Fused Deposition Modelling* (FDM) the extrusion of plastic filament. Currently 3D Print Group believe FDM is the easiest to work with and provides our customers with the best value for money. Prints can be manufactured quickly and relatively inexpensively, with print times varying depending on the complexity of the part or assembly.
* FDM – Fused Deposition Modelling – is a trade name registered by Stratasys Inc in 1989. Due to this FDM is also commonly referred to as Freeform Fabrication (FFF).
The services we provide
Need help developing or designing a component, no problem, we provide a design development service. Contact us for further information.
3D Print Group provide 3D prints of various components and parts, predominantly in PLA and ABS, however if you have a specific material requirement feel free to contact us.
Looking for educational tutorials for schools or beginners or simply wanting further information, be sure to get in touch.
At 3D Print Group we look to source the best deals on 3D printing equipment and consumables for our customers. Visit our Store above.
Working in collaboration with companies and customers.