The future has arrived! 3D printers are tools that allow you to turn the ideas in your head into objects you can hold in your hand. But what exactly is a 3D printer, and how do 3D printers work? With the help of 3D Printing Projects, discover below how this incredible technology makes awesome projects possible.
In many ways, a 3D printer is similar to a printer you might have at your home or school. However, instead of printing 2D images on paper, as inkjet a laser printers do, they create solid, 3D objects. They may look complicated, but once you understand the basics you’ll see that 3D printers are surprising simple to use (and also great fun)!
Most 3D printers create models with plastic. The plastic is fed into the machine as a thread, called filament, from a large coil. An electric heater melts the plastic, and the hot liquid flows out of a small nozzle, like ink out of a pen.
As soon as the molten plastic is deposited, it cools and hardens. Computer-controlled motors move the nozzle back and forth, building up layers of plastic to create the model. Some printers only move the print head, but others also move the print bed – the base on which the model sits.
The most important part of a 3D printer is the extruder, or print head. This includes the nozzle, the heater, and a motor to push filament through the nozzle. The nozzle "draws" with molten plastic, slowly creating a 3D object.
Electric motors move the nozzle while a model is being printed. 3D printers work in all three dimensions and so have three main motors.
An electronic controller calculates every movement of the motors. Some 3D printers need to be connected to a computer, but many can print straight from a memory card.
So there you have it! While 3D printing may seem like magic, it’s really the result of some very clever tech. Curious to learn more about 3D printing? Pick up 3D Printing Projects to discover model ideas and inspiration, and so much more.