06 Aug 3D Model Printing Guide
3D printing, or additive manufacturing, is the process of creating a physical object based on a 3D model by printing additive materials, often plastics, in thin horizontal layers. At Castech 3D, we know that the 3D printing process can often lead to confusion, so we’ve simplified it and answered the most common questions when it comes to 3D printing.
Remember, there is no one size fits all approach, the differences between software, materials and printer all have an impact on the final print.
What is 3D Model Printing?
3D modeling is the process of digitally developing a mathematical representation of an object in three dimensions , this is created using 3D modeling software.
Creating a digital 3D model is the core process behind 3D printing, it begins with uploading or creating a design using a 3D modeling program (such as CAD). This design is then converted into a digital file that splits the 3D model into hundreds of thousands of horizontal layers to be read by the 3D printer. This process for 3D model printing is called ‘slicing’.
Some 3D printers have a built in slicer which allows you to import the raw 3D file .stl, obj, AMF or computer-aided design (CAD) file directly into the 3D printer.
The 3D printing company will then review the 3D printable models using CAD software to identify any errors in the design to correct before printing.
Once the 3D model has been ‘sliced’, it is ready to be fed to the 3D printer.
The 3D printer reads each layer of the design, printing them one at a time and seamlessly blending the 3D model. The resulting print is a smooth, 3D object that is identical to the original digital 3D model.
There are many open-source 3D model websites where you can download a base 3D model template to alter and make it you own. However, if you’re not well-versed in 3D modeling software then you can download existing 3D model designs for free or a small price.
What materials can be used in 3D model printing?
3D printing models can be made from many different types of materials and plastics.
The most common materials are;
ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene)
PLA (Polyactic Acid)
Nylon (Also know as Polyamide)
Stereolithograpghy (Epoxy Resins)
Glass filled polyamide
Gold / Silver
Most consumer 3D printed products are made from thermoplastics for use as plastic parts, fixtures and models. However, the filament chosen depends on your project and the end-product’s purpose.
Using plastic materials in 3D printing allows for durable and cost-effective prints. They can range from high-quality engineering grade materials made for strength and durability, to medium grade levels like PLA for small projects or prototype models.
Just a few of the filaments used by Castech 3D are:
ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) is a thermoplastic and one of the first and most commonly used 3D printer filaments. Available in a wide range of colours, ABS is known for its durability and impact resistance. Great at withstanding wear and tear, this makes ABS a great choice for outdoor, high-temperature applications. With a greater lifespan that nylon, it is often used by manufacturers and engineers looking for high-quality, long-lasting prototype productions.
PLA (Polyactic Acid) is one of the most popular materials and considered a default filament for many basic 3D printing needs. Renewable and biodegrable, PLA is made from environmentally-friendly resources like sugarcane and cornstarch. PLA is commonly used by hobbyist and schools as it is relatively inexpensive and easy to print with low warping risk. Flexible filaments, such as the NinjaFlex Filament, are made of Thermoplastic Elastomers (TPE) – a blend of hard plastic and rubber. This chemical formulation allows for printed parts that can be streched and flexed easily. Impact-resitant, flexi filaments can be partially flexible like a car tire or as elastic as a rubber brand. Great for use in high-impact environments requiring part movement or in medical training.
What is the main use of 3D printing?
Essentially, 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, is the process of making three-dimensional, solid objects from a digital file. The possibilities are virtually endless and allow for experimentation and design in various industrial or home uses with an array of filament (materials), finishes, colour, size and quality levels available.
Many industries have now embraced the innovative future of 3D printing and additive manufacturing. Our work at Castech 3D reaches across various industries to aid in production and to reduce manufacturing costs. Common applications for 3D printing are the creation of unique, custom designs for use in the manufacturing and production processes of industries such as automotive, defence and foundry.
Along with mass customisation, 3D printing affords rapid production and delivery times with no waste of materials and no tooling required. 3D printing technology is great for use by product development and engineering companies looking to create and rapidly accelerate their design and development phase. Medical science and aerospace are emerging new industries using 3D modelling for innovative ideas to produce a (MVP) minimal viable product for theory testing and proof of concepts.
3D printing is also practical and can be used to create products, figures and replacement parts for those hard to replace items when things break!
For the most part, creating 3D printing models promotes creative thinking, allowing you to bring your ideas to life.
To see some of the thing you can produce from 3D printing check out the video below:
Types of 3D model printing software?
3D printing software is widely available with both paid and free versions. Some software is for use in producing parts and others for creating 3D models.
If you’re looking to try some 3D modelling for yourself, have a go at these applications to get you started. The good news is these apps are great for beginners!
Google is a fun and free application, it allows you to think through your ideas and pre-build projects with simple, interactive 3D modelling.
This slightly more advanced software is free to download. Use OpenSCAD to create solid 3D CAD models or 3D models for machine parts.
TinkerCAD by AutoDesk
This one is by far the easiest to use and comes with free 3D learning lessons and is great for beginner designers, hobbyist and kids!
Commercial 3D Modelling software
If you’re after some more advanced, commercial 3D modelling software the most common ones are applications like CAD software, and Modelling Tools.
Below is a list of some of the more powerful 3D printing software tools on the market.
Fusion 360 by AutoDesk
One of the most comprehensive 3D modelling and design software on the market is Fushion 360.
This one allows for a complete end-to-end design environment to create 3D modelling, rapid prototyping, manufacturing and generative design for all phases of the product development process.
AutoCAD is very versatile software that offers a lot of capabilities to create 3D models. Optimised for 3D printing, this program is made for 3D printing professionals that require the full toolset for creation of models and objects.
OpenSource CAD Software is for the designer and creator looking to create parametric 3D modelling, shapes, mechanical engineering and robot simulation to simulate robotic movements
3D printing is quickly replacing conventional manufacturing methods. This guide highlights that with the proper knowledge, materials, and creativity you can bring your ideas to life through industrial 3D printing. As the 3D printing industry grows, more and more filaments become available for use, allowing for limitless options and customised designs suitable for any application or industry.
If you want to engage with a professional business to help with your project or production of your industrial parts then contact
Brad Walsh at Castech 3D Printer services at Wingfield.