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January 23, 2014 AT 5:45 pm

Bits to Atoms: An Overview of Today’s 3D Printing Technologies #3DThursday #3DPrinting

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Tested.com has an excellent quick overview of 3D printing basics (updated to this season!) that is worth checking out!

Bits to Atoms: An Overview of Today’s 3D Printing Technologies:

Many of you are probably somewhat familiar with 3D printing. Will’s weekly MakerBot Mystery Builds, CES coverage of new printers, and other highlights pop up all the time, but now we are looking to delve deeper into how these new technologies work and are related to each other. For this first column, I want to start fresh with an overview of the 3D printing process and current methods of printing.

Today’s 3D printing is primarily an additive manufacturing technique in which a digital model is translated into a physical object by a machine which ‘draws’ very thin layers of material on top of each other until the object is complete. There is a wide range of machines that print in different ways and materials, including plastic, metal, ceramic, plaster and even rubber.

Up until recently, 3D printing was more commonly referred to as rapid prototyping and/or additive manufacturing. Developed in the 1980’s, it was primarily used in manufacturing industries as a cheaper and faster way to build prototypes. This technology finally reached the consumer-level in the mid-2000’s, mainly due to the hard work of open-source hobby groups such as The RepRap Project. The goal of the Project was to develop and promote an open-source, self-replicating 3D printer and there are many printers based off the RepRap Project. If you buy a kit to assemble, chances are it’s some form of RepRap, in fact MakerBot grew out of the RepRap community. If you want to learn a lot about home 3D printers and possibly build one yourself, this is a great place to start…..

There’s much more here!

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Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!

Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!

The Adafruit Learning System has dozens of great tools to get you well on your way to creating incredible works of engineering, interactive art, and design with your 3D printer! If you’ve made a cool project that combines 3D printing and electronics, be sure to let us know, and we’ll feature it here!


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