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Three-dimensional objects come to life using 3D printing technology. Print useful and fun items, such as a coin sorter or collapsible coffee sleeve for your vehicle. Find the best 3D printers while shopping at Quill and pick up ABS filament and cartridges to create digital projects, layer by layer. Read More
How 3D printing technology works

You can design almost anything with a 3D printer by creating a digital image of the object or scanning an existing item. Using a digital file, the printer turns the image into a physical, 3D model by building up plastic resin, layer by layer. Some models, such as selected XYZ 3D printers, include a scanner built into the printer for an all-in-one experience from start to finish. The multi-scan software allows users to scan an object at several angles with an edit function to personalize the results. This type of printer gives operators control of the design from beginning to end.

The file appears in layers in order to communicate with the 3D printing equipment. Technology varies, and different models build the layers in different ways. Some printers melt material while others cure resin using a laser, one layer at a time.

Benefits of 3D printing

These 3D printers can make customized prosthetic limbs for individuals or create intricate parts for airplanes and vehicles. The technology makes it easy to produce everyday items such as door stops, shower heads, and business card holders. Manufacturers can create a prototype and make changes to the design before placing the product into production. Other examples of items made using 3D printing machinery include jewelry, toys, and computer parts.

Materials to get started in 3D printing

Consumers should choose quality 3D printers such as a Flashforge®3D printer, which reads data from an SD card, USB memory device, or a Wi-Fi® connection. The LCD touch screen is user-friendly and the printer supports multiple types of filament to give users several material choices. Another popular option, the Maker Bot® Replicator Z18, is able to reproduce high-quality, complex models. Most printers include the necessary software. Users need a supply of thermoplastic filaments such as acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) and polylactic acid (PLA).

3D printing is fast and efficient

The size of the printer and the technology used determines how long it takes to print an object. Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) printers can complete a cell phone case in 20 minutes or a baseball in 2 hours.