What is 3D printing?
3D printing is a process similar to that of taking a file like a jpg and printing it on an inkjet printer. Only, instead of flat 2D photo, the file we use defines a 3D object and printing it basically involves the successive layering of plastic about the thickness of a sheet of paper until we have something you can hold in your hand.
What printers do you use?
I use either the ‘printrbot Plus’ or the ‘DaVinci 2.0′ (dual colour) to print the designs. These are FDM 3D printers, they print in plastic usually ABS or PLA. Printing is billed by the amount of filament used, separately from my by the hour rate for designing.
-Maximum possible build size is 20x19x20 cm on the printrbot and 15x20x20 cm on the DaVinci.
Shapeways has higher resolution printers, visit their site for their printers specifications. They can print almost anything in plastic, as long as it fits inside the printer. Shapeways also ‘prints’ with a variety of metals and full colour sandstone.
If I print the design myself (not shapeways) it will be made of ABS or PLA plastic. ABS is a very common plastic with a heat tollerance that make it suitable for making plastic car parts. PLA is more eco friendly, but has a lower melting point, making it unsuitable for hot places. Both ABS and PLA are waterproof.
If you order from shapeways, they use a soft, flexible plastic. The colour can run or fade if the plastic is exposed to water.