We have been working with 3D printers for many years in different areas of our projects and have gained a lot of experience that we want to share with you. Our friends, acquaintances, relatives and partners are always fascinated by the possibilities of 3D printing and how it works. Let's start small: What is 3D printing anyway?

Not a classic printer
The term "3D printing" refers to additive printing processes. Additive processes are build-up processes or layer building processes. A machine applies layer after layer of a material on top of each other and thus gradually builds an entire object. In order to print a 3D object, a 3D printer is required. A 3D printer is a machine for converting digital 3D models into real, three-dimensional objects using powder, liquid or solid materials. A 3D printer therefore has very little to do with a classic printer for documents.

From the file to 3D printing
However, 3D printers and classic printers have one thing in common: they both use a digital file that contains the information about what is to be printed. The 3D printer needs a digital 3D model, which is created by scanning real objects or using 3D modeling software (such as CAD programs). This 3D model is then converted into instructions for the 3D printer. This process is called slicing, as the 3D model is broken down into many thin layers by a program. This process also determines how each layer should be printed. These settings for each layer are very important and can be used, for example, to optimize the strength of the finished 3D object, the printing time and many other properties. The slicer creates a new file, which then is sent to the 3D printer.

It's the 3D printer's turn
There are several different processes to work with when it comes to 3D printing. At The 3D Object, we use the FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling or melt layering) process. The FDM process works with molten material, processing materials such as PETG or PLA in the form of wire. To prevent the 3D object from peeling off or warping, the 3D printer has a platform, which is usually heated. Above this platform is a print head, the extruder. The printing material, the filament, is inserted into this. For the printing process, the extruder is heated so that the filament melts. The melted filament is applied to the platform, with either the print head or the platform itself moving. After each layer, the platform moves away from the print head a bit so that the next layer can be applied. In addition to the FDM process, there are many others, such as with powder or liquid material - but that is beyond the scope of this blog post.

You've now gotten a general overview about 3D printing. We can write a lot more about it and will certainly do so. For us, 3D printing is a cool innovation that can be applied in a lot of areas. For example, we use it to make personalized food bowls for our animal pets (see Animals) or unique PAZL boxes for friends and partners (see PAZL). We have many other ideas in store and are very much looking forward to implementing them soon!