3D printing or additive manufacturing is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital model.
The creation of a 3D printed object is made through the process of laying down successive layers of material until the object is created. Each layer is a thinly sliced cross-section of the object.
3D printing is the opposite of subtractive manufacturing which is cutting out / hollowing out a piece of metal or plastic with for instance a CNC machine.
3D printing allows you to produce complex items easier than more traditional manufacturing methods.
types of 3D printing[edit | edit source]
Fused Deposition Modeling/Fused Filament Fabrication [FDM/FFF][edit | edit source]
FDM printers push a string of filament through a heated nozzle in the printhead to extrude a string of melted material on the build plate in layers to build up a 3D model. There are various filaments and varieties of FDM/FFF printers.
Cartesian Machines are the most common. Despite all 3D printers using the Cartesian X,Y,Z axes a "Cartesian machine" refers to the way that it prints. With a bar that carries the printhead left and right along the X axis. The printhead raises up along the frame to move in the Z axis. The most common way to move along the Y axis is to move the print bed forward and back. This is called a "Bed Slinger" and is the most common for hobbyist printers due to it's ease to produce and apply to various frames. However, this is also the least stable and most prone to print failure. In higher end printer the bar can also carry the printhead along the Y axis itself.
Delta machines are 3D printers with 3 or more arms attached to the printhead. the arms work together to adjust the printhead’s position along the X, Y, and Z, axes. They often work faster and print higher quality than similarly priced Cartesian machines and excel at tall prints. But they have a comparably small build area. They are also far less common. This means they are much harder to repair, troubleshoot, and upgrade.
There are more types like SCARA, Polar, and Belt printers. But these are so uncommon, unsupported, and comparably complex that you aren't likely to run into one, much less one for an affordable price.
Due to the amount of material and printer variety, FDM/FFF is recommended for robotics.
Resin Printing[edit | edit source]
Resin printing uses a tub of liquid resin with a UV screen underneath it to cure the resin to the build plate in layers. Resin printing is most often used for creating highly detailed models.
After printing, you need a cleaning and a curing machine to remove excess wet material & harden the resin.
This type of 3D printing is not recommended for the purposes of robotics. It can work, but it is comparably expensive, inefficient, and lacks the versatility of FDM/FFF.