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What Is 3D Printing?

3D printing (a.k.a. additive manufacturing) is the process of making a three-dimensional object from a digital model. New technologies have emerged that have made 3D printing safer, simpler, and more affordable than ever.

Desktop 3D printing, in particular, means that this technology is now available to consumers, hobbyists, inventors, and small businesses. The smaller scale of today's 3D printers yields remarkable results that are comparable in many ways to those of their more industrial brethren. Utilizing widely-available materials, collectively referred to as filament, 3D printers follow a digital pattern, extruding layer after layer until the object has been completed and a three dimensional model is created.

Who Uses 3D Printing Technology?

Desktop 3D printers are used in virtually every field imaginable: aerospace, architecture, automotive, design, education, engineering, jewelry making, and medicine, to name just a few. Tech enthusiasts, inventors, students, and teachers alike, all enjoy the ability to transform an idea into reality. After all, what can be produced by this amazing technology is limited only by the imagination!

NASA has a 3D Print experiment aboard the International Space Station. It is the first step toward creating a microgravity "machine shop" in space.

NASA 3D Made In Space
Distenex filaments

What Materials Are Used In 3D Printing?

Currently there are two main types of filament being used, and both have their strengths and weaknesses. Both work well, yield amazing results, and can be sanded, finished, or painted.

PLA (Poly Lactic Acid) is a natural substance derived from renewable sources like corn starch, sugarcane and other renewable ingredients. As such, it is biodegradable and non-toxic. PLA prints with less odor and is typically a bit simpler to use than ABS, however it is generally considered to be slightly less durable as well.

ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) is derived from petroleum and is therefore a more durable product. ABS requires a heated platform which can be a potential safety issue for small children. Additionally, ABS tends to be more sensitive to temperature changes while printing which can make using this material marginally more difficult to use.

There are many more materials being developed for 3D printing. Nylon, various metals, and even wood-infused plastics are now hitting the market and even more exotic filaments are sure to follow.

What Can I Create With A 3D Printer?

There are countless sources for 3D models to print, and millions of designs are available to download from every corner of the internet, many of which are free. There are also numerous software titles to choose from that let you create your own masterpieces, from simple to complex, and many of these are free as well.

3D scanning is also becoming more widely available, so now you can print everything from a self portrait to a museum artifact.

With 3D printing, entrepreneurs are creating prototypes to start their own business, students are learning engineering, and hobbyists and artists are taking their imaginations to a whole new level. Remember, with 3D printing, inspiration is all around you!

How Can We Help You Learn More About 3D Printing?

We have created the 3D Printing Showcase, an actual showroom where our expert technicians run and test multiple printers from all of the leading manufacturers. This allows us to learn, evaluate, and demonstrate many of the models that we carry. We share our knowledge in 3D printing and help guide you with your initial step to experience this wonderful new technology. In fact, if you are ever in Southern California, you are invited to visit us for a demo.

Also, check out our 3D Printing Showcase on Facebook for a look at all of the amazing prints we have created, as well as other news and contributions from the world of 3D printing.

pcRUSH 3D Printing Showroom pcRUSH 3D Printing Facebook Showcase

Get In The Action Of 3D Printing Now!

Give 3D printing a try, we believe that you will embrace this technology and find a virtually unlimited universe of things to create with your new printer. Visit our 3D Printing Resources Page, to learn more about 3D Printing and pick among the select 3D printers we recommend to start your journey into the 3D printing world.

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