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What Is 3D Printing And How Does It Work?

22. 04. 2020.

What is 3D Printing and how does 3D FDM Printer Work?

3D printing also referred to as additive manufacturing is a process of turning a digital three-dimensional object into a physical design through a consecutive layer series. Basically, all 3D printing technologies operate under the same principles which form the basis of the term ‘additive’, meaning consecutive accumulation of thin layers to generate an object or design. However, there are numerous 3Dprinting materials and technologies used to print such as Poly Jetting, Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF)/ Deposition Modeling (FDM) among others. 3D printers based on the SLA and FDM/FFF processes are the most commonly used as they are easily implanted on the machine and also cheaper.

How does 3D FDM Printer Work? 

FDM technology was first developed by S. Scott Crump in the late 1980s and later commercialized in 1990. Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) is an equivalent term for FDM created to give a phrase that is legally unimpeded in its use.

In order to create an object with an FDM printer, the files have to be in a computer-aided design (CAD) format which must be converted to a set-up that a 3D printer can understand, in most cases the STL design. These printers use both modeling material and support materials. The modeling material constitutes the concluded object while the support material holds up the object during printing.

These materials take the form of a thermoplastic filament which is uncoiled and directed through an extrusion nozzle. The nozzle then melts the filaments and places them on a build platform or base. The build platform and nozzle are regulated by a computer which helps generate the X, Y, and Z coordinate to be adapted during printing. The nozzle moves vertically and horizontally over the base forming a thin layer of plastic which after cooling hardens and binds the layer beneath it. The base is then lowered to enable the formation of the next plastic layer, this process continues until the whole design is complete.

The final part of the printing using the FDM technology is removing the object from the printer once it is complete. This is done by soaking the object in a detergent and water solution or by breaking off the support base by hand. To improve the appearance, the object can be painted, sanded or lacquered as desired. 


The size of the object determines the printing time. Large and complex objects take much longer than smaller and thin once. The quality of an object is primarily dependent on its thickness of the layers. Thick 3D printed objects are usually of great quality. 

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