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7 Steps of 3D printing Process

1. 3D model
4.Machine set up 7.Post processing

2.STL file 5.Build

3.File transfer 6.Part removal

Step 1 – 3D Model creation

– First a 3D model of the object to be printed is created using computer-aided

design (CAD) software or a 3D object scanner.
– the part will be exact replica of the 3D model, every detail needs to be right and
modelled to the right shape and size and needs to fully define its external
Step 2 – STL file creation

– The CAD file is then converted to a standard file format called standard
tessellation language (STL), which was developed by 3D Systems in late 80s for
use in its Stereolithography (SLA) machines.
– As the name suggests this will tessellate the 3D shape and slice the part into
digital layers. The layer thickness dictates the final quality and depends on the
machine and process.
Step 3 – STL file transfer

– STL file is then transferred to the printer often using the custom machine
software, where model will be manipulated to orientate for printing.
– At this stage machine software might create its own file with extra information
it needs to build the part such as support structure, temperature etc.
Step 4 – Machine set up

– Each additive technology and its variants have its own steps and requirements
to set up a new printing job.
– This includes material selection, orientation, printer temperature, support
structure, build platform levelling etc. It also involves loading print material,
binders and other consumables into the machine.
Step 5 – Build

– Once the build started, it gradually builds the design one layer at a time. A
typical layer is around 0.1mm in thickness but depending on the technology and
the material used it can go down to 20 microns.
– Depending on the build size, the printing machine, material and the printing
resolution, this build process could take hours or even days to complete.
Step 6 – Part Removal

– After building the part or multiple parts in some cases, it may need a cooling off
period before the parts can be removed from the machine. Again depending on
the machine and technology, removal could vary from simply peeling off the
build platform to wire eroding from the build pate.
Step 7 – Post processing

– Almost all the 3d printing techniques will require some form of post processing.
Depending on the technology used and the end use of the part, it varies from
simply cleaning and polishing to machining and heating treating the part.