Whether it’s electronics, robotics, metalworking, woodworking, food hacking, sewing, or any other number of activities, making is, at its heart, about creation. However, of all of those activities, 3D printing is arguably the maker movement’s most novel development.
What is 3D printing?
3D printing is what is known as an additive process, and is usually referred to as Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), or sometimes Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF).
Simply put, this means that FDM printers extrude a small amount of heated material, which is typically a type of plastic, to build an object or objects layer-by-layer. While there are a small percentage of StereoLithography (SLA) printers that harden a pool of polymer liquid resin by exposing it to focused ultraviolet light, most 3D printers are of the FDM variety. Since FDM printers are the most common and the easiest to work with, they’re what we’ll focus on here.
Who is 3D printing for?
While certain media coverage may make you think otherwise, 3D printing is not just for those who call themselves a Maker. It’s also for the hobbyist, crafter, tinkerer, technology enthusiast, and anyone else with a desire to create. And despite 3D printing’s many practical applications, including solving some real challenges, many people purchase a 3D printer simply for the fun of it.
Whether it’s cookie cutters or other household items, school projects, replacement knobs for appliances, storage solutions, hobby items, or holiday decorations, the possibilities are only limited by one’s imagination.