How does it work?
The principle of 3D printing is simple, it consists of superimposing layers of materials according to mathematical coordinates transmitted to the printer by a “3D file”.
If the principle remains the same for all the 3D printers, the processes allowing to print an object vary and one can classify them in 3 categories:
– The deposit of matter
– Solidification by light
– Agglomeration by gluing
What differentiates these 3 processes is the way in which the layers of materials are deposited and processed as well as the materials themselves.
1- Deposit of material.
Most printers operate according to this principle, which consists of depositing a filament of molten material layer by layer at about 200°C. For a long time limited by the types of usable materials (ABS and different plastics), 3D FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) printing has seen the arrival of new, very interesting and innovative composite filaments in recent years.
PLA (polylactic acid), obtained from corn starch is definitely an excellent alternative to plastic, which makes it an ecological and responsible material highly prized by designers and artists.
Many composite filaments see the days (wood, bronze, copper, carbon), in order to give great creative freedom while revolutionizing the way we design products.
2- Solidification by light
Stereolithography is the first 3D printing technique to have been created in the 1980s.
Unlike FDM (filament deposition) processes, SLA consists of solidifying a photosensitive resin with an ultraviolet laser beam. The principle remains the same, the laser touches and hardens the resin layer by layer to give shape to the 3D object.
Laser sintering (SLS) works on the same principle as SLA, but with different equipment. We use powder that the laser merges point by point to create a layer. Once this is complete, the printer moves to the top layer until the 3D object is obtained.
3- Agglomeration by gluing
Developed in the 90s, this 3D printing technique (3DP) consists of spreading a thin layer of powder and then depositing fine drops of glue to solidify the particles between them.
The process is repeated until the object is obtained. Unlike 3D FDM printing, 3DP requires a lot of post-processing of the object, which can make it more fragile.
Why 3D printing?
The answer to this question may seem obvious to companies, the media, but also to the general public, who seem to associate 3D printing with the 4th Industrial Revolution.
We will explain in detail why 3D printing is revolutionizing the way we design, but also the way we consume.
1 – A great freedom of design
Unlike traditional manufacturing methods (injection, CNC), 3D printing makes it possible to create very complex objects and therefore to have unequalled design freedom.
In industry, designers are obliged to adapt to the technical constraints of the various manufacturing tools. With 3D printing, these constraints are no longer a problem, which opens up endless creative possibilities.
2- Another way of designing products
Before the advent of 3D printing, the design of a product was reserved for the industrial world, which meant very high development and manufacturing costs (mould making).
Today, many local designers and artists have taken advantage of this technology to create products for the general public.
3 – Another way to consume
Why buy a commonplace lamp from Ikea when my neighbour creates lamps with his 3D printer?
Have you ever thought about all the objects you have at home? where have they been made? Does this object look like me? Does it meet my values?
We are not here to judge, but we can say that most of the products we consume come from the classic manufacture, which implies ever more polluting materials, a huge carbon footprint and commonplace objects that do not really resemble us.
3D printing, like other innovative technologies and creative processes, breaks these ways of producing and therefore consuming. We produce locally, use eco-responsible materials and promote the local economy.