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In'Tech Industries FAQ

What is Rapid Prototyping?


Rapid prototyping, often known as RP, aids this process. It involves automating the fabrication of a prototype part from a three-dimensional (3D) CAD drawing.




What is Additive Manufacturing?


Additive Manufacturing (AM) is an appropriate name to describe the technologies that build 3D objects by addinglayer-upon-layer of material, whether the material is plastic, metal, ceramics, concrete more.




What is 3D Printing?


3D printing is the automated process of building a three-dimensional object by adding material rather than taking material away (as in drilling or machining). The process, also known as additive manufacturing, was first introduced in the late 1980s. It was first commercially used as a rapid prototyping method in the aerospace and automotive industries. Charles Hull, who later co-founded 3D Systems, had a patent issued for a stereolithography system (or SLA for short). In 1988, 3D Systems sold its first industrial 3D printer utilizing the SLA technology. In the early 1990s, many industrial 3D printing companies were founded, they all came up with newly invented processes. Only three of the major 3D printing companies from that time when 3D printing’s only application was industrial, are still on the market. The most important ones are 3D Systems, EOS, and Stratasys. In'Tech Industries started in 3D Printing back in 2001. It wasn’t until 2009 that 3D printing became commercially available to the masses. The RepRap open source project opened the door to affordable desktop 3D printers utilizing the Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technology. Then, and in the years following 2009, new and other companies started innovating, creating and improving the consumer/desktop 3D printer to the point where today, we have high-quality, affordable and also expensive desktop 3D printers utilizing the FDM technology (and others).




What is CAD?


CAD, or computer-aided design and drafting (CADD), is technology for design and technical documentation, which replaces manual drafting with an automated process.




How does 3D Printing work?


To create a 3D printed object, you use an “additive process”. The three-dimensional object is created by laying down successive layers of material until the object is finished.




Where can I find a 3D file (an .stl) to print?


Two options... Find a file online from a website like Thingiverse or GrabCAD. -Or- Create a 3D file yourself with a CAD program. You can do it for free with programs like Sketchup, TinkerCAD, or 123D Design.




What is the difference between SLA and FDM?


SLA is a form of additive manufacturing technology used for creating models, prototypes and production parts in a layer by layer fashion using photopolymerization, a process by which light causes chains of molecules to link together forming polymers. Fused Deposition Modelling works by heating up a piece of plastic and forcing it out of a small hole in the same manner as toothpaste. Imagine drawing a picture with just a tube of toothpaste by squeezing a line out and going forwards, backwards, left and right only.
Let that first picture harden and then do the same again slightly higher with the next layer of the part you wish to build. The plastic mentioned above is referred to as filament and can come in a variety of materials, textures and colours. Different materials can be used for different applications. Wood, plastic, metal and rubber type materials are all used by 3D printers.




How long does a 3D print take?


That depends on several factors:

  1. The size of your model
  2. The material you are using
  3. The layer height (smaller layers mean more layers to print)
  4. The complexity of your model
  5. Whether the object needs supports




What are the benefits of 3D Printing?


Like most emerging technologies, 3D printing offers benefits in a lot of areas. These include improvements in financial, logistical, healthcare, creative and environmental areas. For one, the technology allows for endless customization with regards to design and material. One notable example of this benefit is in the healthcare sector. Complex prosthetic limbs can be produced precisely to individual needs for a much lower price. In the area of aerospace, complex parts that take a long time to assemble can now be 3D printed in one go. This speeds up the assembly line and reduces the cost of the finished product. Also, mass production in higher numbers is made possible. 3D printing enables designers to rapid prototype, ultimately saving time in the design process. This allows new or improved products to hit the market much sooner than with conventional means. 3D printers are portable. That allows end products or components to be 3D printed where and when they are needed and thereby lowering or eliminating inventory needs. Satellites, for example, will most likely be 3D printed in space in the future. Since 3D printing utilizes the concept of adding material rather than subtracting material, the process leaves behind little to no waste. Although materials used in conventional manufacturing methods are recyclable, the process of recycling materials costs money that can be saved with 3D printing.




Is there a difference between 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing?


The short answer is no. The term “3D printing” comes from the use of inkjet printer heads (in the first 3D printers) to deposit, either layers of UV-curable photopolymer resin or a binding material onto a layer of powder in a powder bed process. However, the term now universally encompasses all additive manufacturing technologies. The more technical, or correct, way of referring to the automated process of building a 3D object from scratch using a digital file is “additive manufacturing”.





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