With 3D printers becoming more common in schools we thought we would write a “3D Printing for Dummies” column for teachers who haven’t heard about the technology or those who are looking to introduce a 3D printer to their school.
What is a 3D printer? 3D printing is the process of turning a digital file into a three-dimensional shape.
How does it work? The computer takes the digital image and “cuts” it into slices or layers. The printer then prints each layer to build up a composite 3D structure or deletes area to form the structure. In this way the printer can print moveable parts such as hinges by leaving gaps in the right places.
Types of 3D printing: There are a number of different types of printing technologies including Stereolithography, Digital Light Processing (DLP), Laser Sintering or Laser Melting, Electron Beam Melting (EBM), Selective Deposition Lamination (SDL) and ExtrusionFused Deposition Modelling (FDM) Freeform Fabrication (FFF). There are also two types of 3D inkjet printing, Binder and Material Jetting. The most common type of 3D printing being conducted in schools is ExtrusionFDMFFF printing.