The 3D printer is unlike of the common printers. On a 3D printer, the object is printed by three dimensions. A 3D model is built up layer by layer. Therefore the whole process is called rapid prototyping, or 3D printing.
A common process of rapid prototyping is to apply a fine powder (plaster, bioplastic, polyurethane, polyester, epoxy, metal, etc.) in such a 3D inkjet printers. Printer print out the layer of powder on a bed and form a fixed object. The design is defined by a CAD file.
Fused deposition modeling (FDM) is another method in which molten polymer is sprayed on a support layer and the model is built layer by layer.
Another way is to use liquids, such as the photopolymer, by the same inkjet-type head which is also printed each layer by layer.
Following, an ultraviolet light is used to activate the print head so that the liquid layer become a solid layer. This process is also well-known as stereolithography.
The 3D printing process starts from a number of projects from MIT in 2000. This is an extension of the rapid prototyping process where the basic concern was in a short time a prototype model to make.
The first practical application was in production from the metallic material.
The resolution of the current printers are among the 328 x 328 x 606 DPI (xyz) at 656 x 656 x 800 DPI (xyz) in ultra-HD resolution. The accuracy is 0.025 mm – 0.05 mm per inch. The model size is up to 737 mm x 1257 mm x 1504 mm.
Nowadays, 3D printer is mainly used in business enterprises and concepts which demand time-saving. These include medicine, architecture but also the entertainment industry such as game and film industry. Even artists use a 3D printer for their creations in a comparatively short time in a solid shape to print.
Today there are more and more companies that specialize in the printing of 3D models and supply services for business and individuals.
The biggest drawback for the individual home user is still the high cost of 3D printer. Another drawback is that it takes hours or even days to print a 3D model (depending on the complexity and resolution of the model). Besides above, the professional 3D software and 3D model design is also in a high-cost range.
Alternatively, there are already simplified 3D printers for hobbyist which are much cheaper. And the materials it uses is also less expensive. These 3D printers for home use are not as accurate as the commercial 3D printer.