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3D Printing is a manufacturing method that uses additive processes. It consists of adding a lot of thin layers of a given material to build a three-dimensional object.
In order to create objects, 3D printers are following building programs based on topographical data compiled into 3D files. This way, 3D Printers are only adding (or turning solid) the material in the appropriate areas and piling up to create the volume of the object. Each 3D file is divided into slices and rebuild layer by layer.
A very simple comparison is to imagine a sliced bread. Lay one slice and rebuild your bread by adding one slice upon the other. That’s exactly what a 3D printer do to build an object. To learn more about how 3D printers work, you can refer to our page about 3D Printing Technologies and processes.
The descriptive data of the object shape need to be summarized into a digital file, called 3D file. It can be created by using a 3D modeling software or by 3D scanning an object that already exists (for instance with a 3D scan). There is a large variety of software available, with different levels of complexity, depending on the requirements (individuals, industrial, designer, etc.). To learn more, you can read our tutorials on how to Prepare your file for 3D printing.
3D Printing makes a physical transcription, a ‘materialization’ of these digital data, which opens wide possibilities for creativity. This new printing method is often considered as being revolutionary as it takes a completely different logic and then older conventional production methods. With the traditional industrial processes, the machines remove material, 3D printing adds material.
For more information on the benefits of 3D printing compared to plastic molding and other manufacturing processes, you can refer to our Comparison between 3D printing and traditional manufacturing methods page.
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