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A 3D printer is a machine used to produce a real object, layer by layer, from a 3D file.
The first 3D printer was created in 1984 by Charles Hull who developed the first model based on the principle of stereolithograpy. There are now many 3D printer models using different technolog ies like Fused Deposition Modelling, Selective Laser Sintering or Stereolithograpy.
Nowadays, there is a very large range of materials available to print these objects, including plastic, resin or even metal!
How does a 3D printer work? It’s very simple: the object is created with a succession of very thin layers of solidified material, as needed, until an entire object is produced. This addition of successive layers is the very basis of additive manufacturing.
3D printers can print almost ANYTHING. Their only limitations are technology and the size of the printers themselves. It is therefore possible to print objects ranging from a few microns to several meters. To learn more about the materials available with Sculpteo, please refer to our 3D printing materials pages.
The printing possibilities are endless, from prototyped parts to mass production. Many industries call upon 3D printing for their unique needs, including aerospace and aeronautics, architecture, industrial, automobile, healthcare, education and new technologies. 3D printing can create extraordinary things. For example, 3D printers are handling the construction of the Sagrada Familia in Spain, or take the example of NASA that is working on printing 3D food for their astronauts. Read our article about 3D printing original materials to learn more.
There is a difference between personal 3D printers and professional 3D printers, and there is a wide price range. Personal printers cost anywhere from €400 to €4000 compared to €10,000 to more than €1 million for professional printers.
The RepRap model for example, is a personal 3D printer you build yourself that uses fused deposition modelling technology, whereby you can create objects using plastic filament.
The question must be asked: is it better to buy your own 3D printer or is it easier use an online 3D printing service? While you may think using a personal printer would be quickly profitable, using it is nonetheless complex and may discourage a few people.
What are you the most comfortable with? Do you prefer to use a personal printer or entrust your project to 3D printing experts?