What is the difference between a printer and a 3D printer

3D printer kit

Are you in the market for a new 3D printer? There are many options in terms of the brand, quality, size, speed, and so on. Another big issue is whether you pick a traditional printer and a 3D printer.

A Brief History of Computer Printers

You might be surprised to learn that computer printers have been around for nearly 80 years. Back in 1938 Chester Carlson invented a dry printing process that was called “electrophotography,” which is better known as Xerox. It’s interesting that the early technology was the foundation for laser printers.

Other big printer innovations included the world’s first high-speed printer manufactured by Remington-Rand. It worked for the Univac computer. Then Xerox started developing the first laser printed named EARS in 1969. It was finished in November 1971.

Printing in Three Dimensions

3D printing has been making tech news in recent years but you might be surprised to learn that it’s been around for several decades. In 1981 Nagoya Municipal Industrial Research Institute published an account of a fully-functional rapid prototyping system that used something called photopolymers. A solid model was constructed in layers. Each of them was linked to a cross-sectional part of the model.

Another breakthrough took place in 1984. Charles Hull invented stereo-lithography. This allowed designers to use digital data to build 3D models. Then it can be used to build a real-world object.

Types of Techniques of 3D Printers

What makes a 3D printer different from traditional computer printers? 3D printing involves converting a digital 3D model into an actual physical object. Hull developed one of the world’s first manufacturers of 3D printer kit while his invention focused on something known as stereolithography (SLA).

Since that time various other 3D printing methods have been created. That includes Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), Deposition Modeling (FDM) and Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF), Polyletting, and several others. However, there are some key similarities. All of these 3D printing techniques involve a fabrication process that uses a layer-by-layer method. They’re also based on a computer code that’s fed to the printing device.

Several different methods can be used to 3D print a particular object. However, most 3D printers in today’s homes and offices actually use SLA or FDM/FFF processes. These printing technologies are now cheaper and easier to use in a printer.

How 3D Printers Work

The general principle used for 3D printing is the same. That said, like the functionality of different engines there are different mechanics used for different 3D printing techniques. After a computer downloads the 3D model the data must be converted into “g-code,” which is a computer language that’s used in the process of computer-aided manufacturing.

The G-code is needed for the computer to tell the printer where to put materials throughout the process of fabrication. The G-code is then transmitted to the printer. That creates a “blueprint” for the device’s next thousands of moves used to produce a physical object. G-code is the most popular language used for this key process. It’s possible that in the future other languages will become popular for 3D printing.