3-D Chip Printing
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3-D chip printing (or additive manufacturing, AM) is any of various processes used to make a three-dimensional object. In 3D printing, additive processes are used, in which successive layers of material are laid down under computer control. These objects can be of almost any shape or geometry, and are produced from a 3D model or other electronic data source. A 3D printer is a type of industrial robot.
3-D chip printing in the term's original sense refers to processes that sequentially deposit material onto a powder bed with inkjet printer heads. More recently the meaning of the term has expanded to encompass a wider variety of techniques such as extrusion and sintering based processes. Technical standards generally use the term additive manufacturing for this broader sense.
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Terminology and methods
3-D Chip Printing
Earlier AM equipment and materials were developed in the 1980s. In 1981, Hideo Kodama of Nagoya Municipal Industrial Research Institute invented two AM fabricating methods of a three-dimensional plastic model with photo-hardening polymer, where the UV exposure area is controlled by a mask pattern or the scanning fiber transmitter. Then in 1984, Chuck Hull of 3D Systems Corporation, developed a prototype system based on this process known as stereo-lithography, in which layers are added by curing photo-polymers with ultraviolet light lasers. Hull defined the process as a "system for generating three-dimensional objects by creating a cross-sectional pattern of the object to be formed," but this had been already invented by Kodama. Hull's contribution is the design of STL (Stereo-lithography) file format-widely accepted by 3D printing software as well as the digital slicing and infill strategies common to many processes today. The term 3D printing originally referred to a process employing standard and custom-inkjet print heads. The technology used by most 3D printers to date—especially hobbyist and consumer-oriented models—is fused deposition modeling, a special application of plastic extrusion.
AM processes for metal sintering or melting (such as selective laser sintering, direct metal laser sintering, and selective laser melting) usually went by their own individual names in the 1980s and 1990s. Nearly all metalworking production at the time was by casting, fabrication, stamping, and machining; even though plenty of automation was applied to those technologies (such as by robot welding and CNC), the idea of a tool or head moving through a 3D work envelope transforming a mass of raw material into a desired shape layer by layer was associated by most people only with processes that removed metal (rather than adding it), such as CNC milling, CNC EDM, and many others. But AM-type sintering was beginning to challenge that assumption. By the mid 1990s, new techniques for material deposition were developed at Stanford and Carnegie Mellon University, including micro-casting and sprayed materials. Sacrificial and support materials had also become more common, enabling new object geometries.
The umbrella term additive manufacturing gained wider currency in the decade of the 2000s as the various additive processes matured and it became clear that soon metal removal would no longer be the only metalworking process done under that type of control (a tool or head moving through a 3D work envelope transforming a mass of raw material into a desired shape layer by layer). It was during this decade that the term subtractive manufacturing appeared as a retronym for the large family of machining processes with metal removal as their common theme. However, at the time, the term 3D printing still referred only to the polymer technologies in most minds, and the term AM was likelier to be used in metalworking contexts than among polymer/inkjet/stereo-lithography enthusiasts. The term subtractive has not replaced the term machining, instead complementing it when a term that covers any removal method is needed.
By the early 2010s, the terms 3D printing and additive manufacturing developed senses in which they were synonymous umbrella terms for all AM technologies. Although this was a departure from their earlier technically narrower senses, it reflects the simple fact that the technologies all share the common theme of sequential-layer material addition/joining throughout a 3D work envelope under automated control. (Other terms that have appeared, which are usually used as AM synonyms (although sometimes as hypernyms), have been desktop manufacturing, rapid manufacturing [as the logical production-level successor to rapid prototyping], and on-demand manufacturing [which echoes on-demand printing in the 2D sense of printing].) The 2010s were the first decade in which metal parts such as engine brackets and large nuts would be grown (either before or instead of machining) in job production rather than obligately being machined from bar stock or plate.
3D model slicing
ModelingMain article: 3D modeling
3D printable models may be created with a computer aided design (CAD) package or via a 3D scanner or via a plain digital camera and photogrammetry software.
The manual modeling process of preparing geometric data for 3D computer graphics is similar to plastic arts such as sculpting. 3D scanning is a process of analysing and collecting digital data on the shape and appearance of a real object. Based on this data, three-dimensional models of the scanned object can then be produced.
Regardless of the 3D modelling software used, the 3D model (often in .skp, .dae, .3ds or some other format) then needs to be converted to either a .STL or a .OBJ format, to allow the printing (a.k.a. "CAM") software to be able to read it.
Before printing a 3D model from an STL file, it must first be examined for "manifold errors," this step being called the "fixup." Especially STLs that have been produced from a model obtained through 3D scanning often have many manifold errors in them that need to be fixed. Examples of manifold errors are surfaces that do not connect, or gaps in the models. Examples of software that can be used to fix these errors are netfabb and Meshmixer, or even Cura, or Slic3r.
Once that's done, the .STL file needs to be processed by a piece of software called a "slicer" which converts the model into a series of thin layers and produces a G-code file containing instructions tailored to a specific type of 3D printer (FDM printers). This G-code file can then be printed with 3D printing client software (which loads the G-code, and uses it to instruct the 3D printer during the 3D printing process). It should be noted here that in practice the client software and the slicer are often combined into one software program. Several open source slicer programs exist, including Skeinforge, Slic3r, and Cura as well as closed source programs including Simplify3D and KISSlicer. Examples of 3D printing clients include Repetier-Host, ReplicatorG, and Printrun/Pronterface.
Fused deposition modeling (FDM) was developed by S. Scott Crump in the late 1980s and was commercialized in 1990 by Stratasys. After the patent on this technology expired, a large open-source development community developed and both commercial and DIY variants utilizing this type of 3D printer appeared. As a result, the price of this technology has dropped by two orders of magnitude since its creation.
In fused deposition modeling the model or part is produced by extruding small beads of material which harden immediately to form layers. A thermoplastic filament or metal wire that is wound on a coil is unreeled to supply material to an extrusion nozzle head. The nozzle head heats the material and turns the flow on and off. Typically stepper motors or servo motors are employed to move the extrusion head and adjust the flow. The head can be moved in both horizontal and vertical directions, and control of the mechanism is typically done by a computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software package running on a microcontroller.
Various polymers are used, including acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), polycarbonate (PC), polylactic acid (PLA), high density polyethylene (HDPE), PC/ABS, polyphenylsulfone (PPSU) and high impact polystyrene (HIPS). In general, the polymer is in the form of a filament fabricated from virgin resins. There are multiple projects in the open-sourced community aimed at processing post-consumer plastic waste into filament. These involve machines used to shred and extrude the plastic material into filament.
FDM is somewhat restricted in the variation of shapes that may be fabricated. For example, FDM usually cannot produce stalactite-like structures, since they would be unsupported during the build. Otherwise, a thin support must be designed into the structure which can be broken away during finishing. Fused deposition modeling is also referred to as fused filament fabrication (FFF) by companies who do not hold the original patents like Stratasys does.
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Large 3D printersLarge scale industrial 3D printing Large delta-style 3D printer
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