So I finally had the chance to 3D Print my logo, and take some quick pictures of it.
But as promised, lets go in to some detail of what 3D Printing is.
3D Printing is a process of making a physical model from a computer file.
Many consumer grade 3D printers such as Makerbot, Ultimaker, Solidoodle, Cubify, take files in the form of .stl (Stereolithography) which can be created through programs such as Autodesk 3DS Max, Rhino, Sketchup (with plugins), as well as Autodesk 123D.
There are a few concepts to learn when getting started with 3D Printing. One of the most important, is the way the printer makes the models - FFF vs. SLA. For the purposes of this post, we will be talking about FFF since most consumer grade printers will be FFF.
FFF ( Fused Filament Fabrication)/ FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) is an additive process in which the printer heats up plastic, which comes in spools, and builds your object up layer by layer. Think of the way a hot glue gun works. The glue stick goes into the gun, gets heated, and is able to get laid down.
The heated part of the 3D Printer is called the extruder. This is where your filament will come out of when being printed. Filament is comparable to ink in a traditional printer, this is the naterial (plastic) that will be melted when making your model.
One important thing to know is the size of the filament your printer is able to use. There are two main sizes so far - 1.75mm and 3mm. The manufacturer should specify which one is compatible.
Another thing to look out for is the type of filament your printer can use. There are PLA (Poly Lactic Acid) and ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene). Not all printers used PLA, and vice-versa.
When starting to build the model, the file will have to be "sliced". What this means is that, the program will take your model, and create layers that will be used for the tool path movement. Some programs such as Makerware, will allow you to view the "slices" layer by layer.
The number of slices depends on the size of your model as well as the resolution you are setting. Resolution is the height of the layers you will be printing. The lower the layer height, the higher the resolution. The concept is similar to pixel on your computer screen, the larger the pixels, the less the clarity, hence less resolution.
The last thing I think you should know about is the time it takes to print. 3D Printers take a long to make your model. For example, my 3D Logo, which is about 1.75 inches in diameter with a resolution of .2mm took roughly 40 minutes to make. When printing an object, give yourself ample time because you never know what will happen to your print. Although this technology is relatively reliable, it is still new, and can still improve in many areas.
Feel free to tell me what you think about 3D Printing, and any suggestions about the logo.