PERSONAL FAB

BY TOM OWAD

Three-Dimensional Printing Methods

3D printers print layer on top of layer, slowly building a three-dimensional object. A plethora of materials and methods are used to build these layers.

The Stratasys Dimension is a commercial 3D printer that uses ABS plastic. The ABS filament comes in a self-loading cartridge, and is fed into a heater block by two drive wheels. In the heater block, the ABS is heated to a semiliquid state and extruded through the tip, with layers as thin as 0.01".

The open-source RepRap (reprap.org) project uses similar technology. The filament is a polymer, 3mm in diameter. This is fed into a chamber, held tightly against a drive screw. As the drive screw turns, it pushes the filament down into a heated ...

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