3D printing has been around in one form or another since the 1980s, and with advances in technology over the past decade, it’s become extremely popular for business and personal use. The speed, smoothness, and quality of 3D printing have attracted a wide spectrum of manufacturers, and its range of uses will surely continue to expand in the coming years.
If you’re planning to get into 3D printing, then it’s important to educate yourself on its benefits and which printer you should use to achieve the best product possible.
Let’s take a closer look at the art of 3D printing, from the process to the benefits—and what Mimaki can do for you.
3D printing involves creating a computer-aided design (CAD) file or digital model and then using a specialized printer to assemble a three-dimensional object based on the design. This is usually done by successively layering thin material over and over again—a process carefully guided by the specifications of the CAD file or model—until the product has been fully formed by the printer. That’s why 3D printing is sometimes called additive manufacturing.
There are seven distinct types of 3D printing processes:
3D printers can handle many different materials, including resin and carbon fibers. Some can even print with maraging steel.
When selecting a 3D printer, it’s important to have a clear view of your production goals, and the kind of output you need. When it comes to 3D printing, photorealism is often an achievable goal, but you may have more use for a printer that specializes in complex texturing.
Figuring out what you want is your first step to choosing the 3D printing technology you need.
3D printing has become popular in recent years due to its undeniable benefits, which include cost efficiency, speed, high-quality output, and minimal waste.
3D printing does require an initial expenditure of funds to purchase the equipment—but your investment should pay itself off before very long. Your per-project costs will shrink considerably. Compared with traditional manufacturing methods (such as injection molding), 3D printing provides the valuable benefits of lower energy consumption and reduced labor costs. You will likely also spend significantly less on raw materials (although this can depend on the type of project you’re managing).
Many traditional manufacturing methods involve cutting chunks of material away—leaving behind a lot of waste that, in many cases, is non-recyclable. As an additive process, 3D printing is environmentally friendly and works to minimize waste by using only the material that’s necessary. As a consequence, you sharply reduce your material-handling expenses. Not only do you need to purchase less material upfront, you also don’t have to go through the time-consuming hassle of recycling or otherwise disposing of waste products later.
There was a time when 3D printers were so massive in size—not to mention in price—that they were effectively out of reach for the vast majority of the public. Nowadays, however, advances in technology have made it easier to start up your own business with help from 3D printers or simply create objects for personal use.
3D printers can be set up in house, and usually take up little enough space that some people even have them in their own home. It also doesn’t take a great deal of safety equipment or niche skill to use them, unlike some other manufacturing methods.
The biggest learning curve for product designers when using one of these printers is creating the model itself in the software. Once the designs have been sent to the printer, you can walk away and let it do its work.
Having a printer under your roof means you can create products on demand. There’s no need to plan too far ahead; if you suddenly decide you want to print extra products or create a new 3D model, you have all of the materials right there to do so.
This is particularly handy for businesses that might need to create customized products and don’t want to subject their customers to a long wait time. It’s also useful for rapid prototyping to test out some ideas on the fly, or to present a model at a trade show.
With additive manufacturing, it’s not necessary to store a large amount of material onsite, making it easier to print objects on demand.
There’s no denying that the quality of a 3D printer is consistently high. Since the printer is creating objects over and over again, you don’t have to account for human error in the consistency and can ensure every object comes out according to your precise specifications. For mass manufacturing, this is a particularly important benefit, as it reduces the proportion of defects in deliverables.
Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of 3D printing is the speed at which it can be done. Although it does take the printer a few hours to create a model in real life and fuse it together, layer by layer, you can run them back to back and don’t need to stand by and supervise the process—which saves time and money, and frees you up for other things. And it’s a simple matter to make alterations to the CAD model when needed.
There are many companies that specialize in the manufacture of 3D printers, but not all of these businesses are alike. If you want to reap the true benefits of this process, you must choose the right printer. Mimaki is the resource you need.
Mimaki celebrated our 45th anniversary in 2020. We’ve had a long history of providing great solutions for 3D markets and other businesses, working to provide stable, high-quality equipment and push the technology forward.
Mimaki USA is the leading manufacturer for 3D printers as a direct result of that consistency and effort. We installed the first 3DUJ-553 Photorealistic 3D printer in the Americas at Pictographics Las Vegas, securing our place as the premier company in the industry today.
We have several different 3D printers, each with its own unique advantages:
We look forward to helping you choose the right printer and ensuring it does the job you need it to do.
Whether you’re ready to take the next step in your 3D printing journey or looking to take your first one, we can help. We have a wide range of printers on our website, as well as the software and raw materials that will help you create your masterpiece.
We’re also happy to help if you’re unsure of what you need, or what technology would be best for you.
Call Mimaki directly at 888-530-3988 or check out our website to learn more.