3D printing is a form of additive manufacturing technology where a three dimensional object is created by laying down successive layers of material. It is also known as rapid prototyping, is a mechanized method whereby 3D objects are quickly made on a reasonably sized machine connected to a computer containing blueprints for the object.
Stereo Lithography 3D Printers
Stereo lithographic 3D printers (known as SLAs or stereo lithography apparatus) position a perforated platform just below the surface of a vat of liquid photo curable polymer. A UV laser beam then traces the first slice of an object on the surface of this liquid, causing a very thin layer of photopolymer to harden. The perforated platform is then lowered very slightly and another slice is traced out and hardened by the laser. Another slice is then created, and then another, until a complete object has been printed and can be removed from the vat of photopolymer, drained of excess liquid, and cured.
Inkjet 3D Printing
It creates the model one layer at a time by spreading a layer of powder and inkjet printing binder in the cross-section of the part. It is the most widely used 3-D Printing technology these days and the reasons beyond that are stated below.
This technology is the only one that
1) Allows for the printing of full color prototypes.
2) Unlike stereo lithography, inkjet 3D printing is optimized for speed, low cost, and ease-of-use.
3) No toxic chemicals like those used in stereo lithography are required.
4) Minimal post printing finish work is needed; one needs only to use the printer itself to blow off surrounding powder after the printing process.
5) Allows overhangs and excess powder can be easily removed with an air blower.
Our 3D printing process is automatic, and thus easy for any user. Still, a lot is taking place under the hood. This section provides an overview of the ZPrinter system and the steps involved in printing a 3D physical model. We will refer to the 3D printer diagram in Figure 2 as we detail the 3D printing process
1) Automatic air filter: ensures that all powder stays within the confines of the machine, emitting only clean air into the office or workroom environment.
2) Binder cartridge: contains the water-based adhesive that solidifies the powder.
3) Build chamber: the area where the part is produced.
4) Carriage: slides along the gantry to position the print heads.
5) Compressor: generates compressed air to depowder finished parts.
Ease Of Use
Our vision of making on-demand prototyping accessible to everyone requires that printing a model be almost as easy as printing a document. We envisioned that every designer, engineer, intern or student should be able to ZPrint a prototype. And like a document printer, a 3D printer should be perfectly compatible with a professional office environment.
To achieve these goals, the ZPrinter automates operation at nearly every step. This includes setup, powder loading, self-monitoring of materials and print status, printing, and removal and recycling of loose powder. The ZPrinter is quiet, produces zero liquid waste and employs negative pressure in a closed-loop system to contain airborne particles. Powder and binder cartridges ensure clean loading of build materials. Plus, an integrated fine-powder removal chamber reduces the footprint of the system. All of these advances mean that no special training is required, and the “hands on” time for operating the 3D printer is just a few minutes.
You control the ZPrinter from either the desktop or the printer. ZPrint software lets you monitor powder, binder, and ink levels from your desktop, and remotely read the machine’s LCD display. The on-board printer display and intuitive interface enables you to perform most operations at the machine. Plus, the ZPrinter runs unattended during the printing process, requiring user interaction only for setup and part removal.
Rapidly produce 3D models to reduce operating time, enhance patient and physician communications, and improve patient outcomes.