Most desktop 3D printers use what’s called FDM (fused deposition modeling) printing. Another term is FFF (or fused filament fabrication). The idea behind both of these is that a 3D print is built up by layering layers of gooey plastic on top of each other.
As each layer is extruded, it bonds to the previous layer, and eventually you get a plastic Dalek or Millennium Falcon to put on your dresser.
FDM printers work very much like an inkjet printer does. A head moves around a printing surface depositing material. One difference with 3D printing is that instead of ink, what’s deposited is melted plastic. The other big difference is that there’s a Z-axis. The printer goes up as well as side-to-side and front-to-back. As a result, each layer of plastic can be put on top of each additional layer of plastic.
Now, here’s the good news. With the exception of knowing you need to buy filament for a 3D printer like you would need to buy ink for a 2D printer, you don’t need to know much about the science of filament.
The 3D printing business has gone far enough that you can plunk down four hundred bucks for a little MOD-t printer and just happily churn out objects without knowing anything about filaments, slicers, extrusion temperatures, types of plastic, bed temperatures, extrusion rates, or glass transition temperatures. Read More…