3D printers use an additive manufacturing process, which creates a part in a succession of layers from plastic or other materials. That's the opposite of traditional subtractive manufacturing, which creates a part by cutting away from a block of material.There are lots of methods of 3D printing, but one thing they have in common is they're all driven by data from a CAD (or computer aided design) file. The CAD data defines a "tool path" for the printer to create the layers that build up the part.
"3D Printing with FDM: How it Works" is a Stratasys white paper that walks readers step by step through the FDM 3D printing process. Below is the first of four excerpts from the paper, which explains how to create a "build file."
1. CREATE BUILD FILE
- In Catalyst or Insight software, open your CAD file (in STL format), and select a material, color and slice thickness.
- Pick a build and support style to match your application’s requirements.
- Select an orientation and then let the software do the rest.
- It sections the design into layers and creates toolpaths for both the part and its disposable support structures.
- Then it outputs a build file, which defines precise motion control paths. Click print to send the build file to the 3D printer.
View or download the complete "3D Printing with FDM: How it Works" white paper.