3D printers use some material (such as plastic) to create a physical object from an electronic 3D model. This video explores the concepts in 3D printing and provides examples of software for controlling the printer output.
- Now you really can't talk about printing anymore without talking about 3D printing. Now 3D printing's been around for a while, but it's only with this version of the A+ that we actually see 3D printing being brought into the exam. Now I've played with 3D printing a little bit, but I'm going to go ahead and just kind of give you a rough overview of how 3D printing works and talk about some of the issues that come into play. So first of all, you got to start with a 3D printer. Now a 3D printer is basically a heating element that can move back and forth. There's a little table here that moves around, and what it's going to do is kind of almost lay out like a, imagine like a toothpaste tube of heated thermal plastic that's a lot thinner than a toothpaste tube, but it's going to squirt out and extrude a shape based on 3D images. Now you can draw almost any 3D image for almost any 3D program. I like to use the popular Blender myself. And I can take that image and then I got to bring it into a tool that's going to go ahead and then prepare it for printing, and then we actually go through the printing process itself. But let's talk about this printer I have in front of me. So, right here is my heating element. And at the very bottom, although you're not going to be able to see it, down here at the very bottom is the extruder. And then I've got this feed tube. So what we're looking at, this is where, this is the filament. The filament is actually the unmelted raw material, and this is what we use to make our 3D objects from. So this filament, there's a lot of different types of filament out there. Plastics with names like PLA for example, things like that. But they basically all have one thing in common. You could melt them and they also harden really really quickly. So there's even 3D printers that do metal and things like that. But for us it's always going to be some type of thermoplastic. All right, so what I've done here is I've got this guy ready. One of the things I have to do to get him going is I actually got to preheat him. So I've got the heater already preheated in there and ready to go. And what I want to do is get an image. So let's take a look over here on my screen. And what I did is I've got this pretty little tesseract. Let me scale this up for you. Ooo, maybe not that much. There we go. So that gives you an idea of just how we can scale this anyway we want. I can scale it manually if I want to. For example, if I wanted this to be pretty small I could knock it down to 20 millimeters. And notice that it drops itself onto the bed automatically. And anyway I take this shape and what's going to happen here is we're going to then slice the shape to make the individual layers, and that's what the extruder's actually going to be making. So we take this 3D image, now if we take a look here, this program, by the way is called Cura, and I'm going to go ahead and prepare it. Now there's some interesting things in here. For example, the layer height. We can actually, instead of just squeezing toothpaste around once, we can kind of do it double or even a triple layer if you wanted to shape it like that. This other option here is called in fill. If I had a solid object that was completely solid I could say how much of the inside do you want me to fill in for structural strength, things like that? We can have generate support. Generate support is like, let's say I've got something, a knight holding a really long spear and he'll tilt if I don't give it some support, he'll generate based on its own physics, a little support on there. And then Build Plate Adhesion, what that's talking about is, remember like those little plastic army soldiers, what they'll do is it'll make little plates underneath it so it'll stick to the moving table a little bit better. So I'm going to go ahead and say yes to that one. Now watch here. Well notice I've chosen the plastic PLA, 'cause that's what I've got. And I'm going to hit Prepare. So it's going to go through the slicing process and make a slice file. And that's what we actually geed into this. Now this little printer has a USB connection, and I tried it with the USB but something was going wrong and it made me uncomfortable. But I could also just put an SSD in here and that works just as well. So I'm going to save this to my SSD. I'm now going to go ahead and pull this out. I'm going to bring it in here and start the printing process. While I'm doing that let's take a look at this front screen. Okay, now that I've got the card into the printer, on this one I have to go to print, and it actually sees my little slice file right there. It's called gcode. And I'm going to hit enter. Now it's going to have to warm up a little bit, but let's watch the bed right here, and we can watch the printing begin. (fun upbeat music) Oooooo, pretty. Take a look at this. I've just printed myself a little tesseract. Now the thing about these 3D printers, the biggest thing you need to remember is that they use a lot of this filament. So make sure you've always got plenty of filament for a particular job. Most of the time these slicing programs'll give you a good idea as to how much filament you're going to be using on any individual given job. And this little guy, and for him I actually have to use a razor blade, and I'm going to go ahead and cut this off. But for the A+ remember that 3D printing is going to be using some form of thermoplastic filament that actually uses an extrusion process by looking at 3D programs, which are then sent through a slicing process, and then it's actually the slice files that make all of our pretty, fun images. So that's the basics. But if you really want to have some fun, these machines are getting cheaper and cheaper, pick up a 3D printer. You'd be amazed what you could make. (upbeat quirky music)
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