When anyone first hear about 3D printing and what it can do, they’ll be inclined to believe that these printers came from the future. What many don’t know is that modern 3D printing has been around for almost 40 years. The first patent was given to Dr. Hideo Kodama in 1980; his idea was revolutionary, using a technique called photopolymer rapid prototyping. He used this technique to harden a material using UV rays, unfortunately, it was only for research, and he never introduced it to the market.

In the late 90s, after some research and development by many institutes and private entities, a great milestone was achieved; the first human organ was created using 3D printing technology. Using a CT scan of a patient’s bladder, a biodegradable matrix was then created, the final step is adding cells grown from a tissue onto the scaffold before it is ready to be transplanted.

A major key patent on 3D printing technology has expired in 2009, MakerBot took advantage of this and managed to bring 3D technology out to the masses. They started with open-source DIY kits since this was the best way for people to design their own 3D printers with specific properties in mind. After Makerbot’s introduction, 3D printing technology skyrocketed and started developing rapidly. It’s never easy to figure out what kind of 3D printer you may be needing and what size, and of course what brand.

You need to make sure that you’re well informed and get into some research before you make that final decision. Io3dprint is a great place to start because you can find a wide pool of information and reviews about 3D printers. We’ll be covering in some detail the composite types and properties of composite materials and the best 3D printer for you.

Different Materials

While the plastic is still dominating the 3D printing material world, many fall under the false impression that it’s the only one used. Any material in its solid state can be used in 3D printing, many are being developed and the list is growing more interesting every day.

Plastics are used widely for their versatility and many other pros, but what are these pros and cons?

Nylon

This is a tougher material to substitute for silk which has a high yield point; this means that the material can withstand high strengths keeping its original properties without breaking. The positive side to using nylon which made it very popular recently is the low price point and its many uses in our daily lives as it’s safe to be used around food or water. The only downside to using nylon in printing is the high temperature it requires.

Wood Filament

While this filament is not made entirely out of wood, it gives a beautiful wood-like finish which looks expensive when it actually isn’t. The look depends on using wood particles with polymers like polylactic acid and a gluing polymer. You can control the wood look you are going for as well as the color by playing with the temperature and the version you are using. This requires some treatment to get a convincing wood like finish look, but it’s still cheaper.

Metal Filament

Like the wood filament this mainly is made out of metal particles bound by PLA and a polymer to glue them together. This will give a convincing metal-finish look, but will not weigh as much and of course, will not conduct electricity. The filament can be tricky to get a hold of the right settings for and compared to other materials, it’s expensive.

Different Techniques

There are many other filaments varies from flexible to rigid, cheap and expensive, filaments that will dissolve in water or other solutions, and even conductive filaments that the market is still experimenting with. Likewise, there are different printing techniques that depend on your material, printer, and awaited outcome. Direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) is a technique that falls far away from plastic printing yet is heavily used in the making of prototypes or industrial products.

Before you decide on buying a 3D printer, you need to precisely determine the reason behind your purchase, the materials you are going to use, and the quality you are looking for. If you are looking to print bigger items or large quantities, you will need a bigger bed. With Fused Deposition Modeling printers, you will have the ability to print many plastics like nylon, ABS, and

PLA, along with non-plastic materials like glass, silver, titanium, and steel which is the most common printer chosen when printing small items with large amounts. Stereolithography (SLA) is the second most common technique homeowners choose for its versatility and higher quality. The choice between FDM and SLA comes back to the budget you have set for your printer. One thing you also need to consider is the software for your 3D printer and whether it’s easy enough for you to use.

Tom Parillo

Tom Parillo

I am interested in all things technology, especially automation, robotics and tech that helps change how society will live in the future.