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3D Printing @ Pendergrass

3D Printing 101

Decorative image of sample 3D printed objects

What is 3D printing?
3D printing is a method of making a physical object from a three-dimensional digital model, typically by laying down many thin layers of a material in succession. 3D printing creates objects by bonding the print material one layer at a time.

How does it work?
3D printers work by making use of 3D design files, such as those created in AutoCAD or similar applications.  These files are processed by specialized software that slices the data into cross sections to create a gcode file.  The printer uses the gcode to build the desired object from the bottom up one layer at a time.  Pendergrass’ printers use the fused deposition modeling (FDM) process, which utilizes thermoplastics in filament form.  This filament is fed to a nozzle that heats the plastic to its melting point and then extrudes the material onto the build surface according to instructions from the gcode.

All workstations in Pendergrass Library’s computer lab have access to the AutoDesk suite, but there are alternative 3D modeling applications available at no cost.  These alternatives can be found at:

Please visit our 3D Print Links page to learn more information about 3D printing and modeling applications..

 Click below for information about our 3D printers:

Why 3D printing?  Why is it used?  What is the purpose?
3D printing enables designers to turn their ideas into models that can then be observed for form, fit, and function.

It can be also more productive to hand someone a model of a project to get your idea across rather than a drawing or explanation.

If you are developing a new product, you can use a 3D printer to take advantage of the process called rapid prototyping, which allows designers to create as many different iterations of an object as necessary to get the dimensions and form correct before going to production.  Full production of an object usually involves the costly process of creating dies and tools or utilizing manufacturing processes such as milling, forging, and/or casting.  With 3D printing, these costs are greatly reduced because the 3D print material is cheaper by comparison and allows the designer to perfect the object before going to the production phase.  If changes are made to a design after dies, tools, or other manufacturing implements are fabricated, they must be abandoned and new ones created adding to the time and expense of product development.

3D printers can also be used to fabricate replacement parts for household items that break.  All one needs is a 3D model of the part, or for those with design skills, you can make your own using 3D modeling applications.  An alternative to using 3D modeling applications is to utilize a 3D scanner to scan an object and then print it from the resulting file.