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  • Writer's pictureM Aerospace RTC

How to get started in 3D printing

Additive manufacturing has become an important manufacturing process for production. This type of technology offers many advantages within companies, such as being a profitable solution for production on demand, reducing the cost of tools, expanding design possibilities, among other advantages.

Undertaking 3D printing goes beyond selecting parts, investing in printers and looking for material suppliers. If you're looking to get started with additive manufacturing, it's essential to consider a few things before you get started.

Knowledge in 3D design

3D design is totally linked to 3D printing since you must have a CAD model before sending it to print, therefore, if you do not have knowledge in 3D design, you will not be ready to adopt additive manufacturing. Although, more online repositories are available to download CAD models that are ready to print, these models are not suitable for commercial use. Therefore, it is necessary to look for design programs to start digitally designing and creating your own models for certain solutions. To get the most out of additive manufacturing you will need to delve into the topics of topology optimization and generative design tools.

3D printing learning curve

3D printing is not just buying a printer, sending it to print and getting the part, but it requires a learning curve on this subject. The analysis of the design must be known to know if the part will fail when printed, if it meets the tolerances required by the printer, and to know if it will meet the objective of the part. You should also learn what preparation and operations to carry out for printing.

This topic is a bit extensive, because each 3D printer has a different functionality, just as each material has a different behavior in each type of printing. Therefore, if you already have a 3D printer, you can begin to learn how to control the printer, its characteristics, as well as the configuration parameters of the 3D models in order to be printed. All that this learning requires is to be able to have an optimal printing process.

What materials will you use?

The variety of materials for 3D printing is quite limited, especially metals. This is because the materials used were not designed to be heated and extruded through a nozzle, or melted with a laser. Therefore, you have to have defined what type of materials you want to use for your projects and if 3D printing can handle these types of materials.

You must take into account that certain materials will not work in the same way in additive manufacturing as they do in other types of processes.

The selection of the material is also accompanied by the type of printer that will be used, since the same materials are not handled in the different processes. Therefore, you will first have to select the material and then acquire a printer that handles it, according to the project you have in mind.

Be clear about the project or objective

If you have a project that requires 3D printing of a single piece, it would be best to first use a printing service where a specific printer and material will be used, in order to validate if that printer works for your project and to know what material to use.

On the other hand, if the objective is to generate different types of parts, it would be necessary to obtain a machine that is more versatile, that is, look for a professional printer that has a larger volume to be able to modify and adapt its configuration to the needs that arise. .

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