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3D Printing in Depth

3D printing involves the process of making or creating a real three dimensional object. The objects created by the 3D printer can be plastic, nylon, metal and many other types of materials. It is used to print end user products, manufacturing prototypes, aircraft engine parts and also even by using the human cells it can able to build organs. What is 3D printing? The other name for 3D printing is called as additive manufacturing. 3D printers utilize variety of different additive manufacturing technologies. All those technologies share one core matter in common. That is they create 3D objects by building layer by layer successfully until the entire physical object is complete. It is as simple as printing 2D on a sheet of paper, but in 3D it includes the third one Z-axis.

Each and every layer is thinly sliced & horizontal cross section of the object. You just imagine the baker makes the cake layer by layer till the entire cake is ready. 3D printing is also similar to baking but with bit more conscious. The 3D Printer needs a set of instructions from the computer to perform the process. In order to create a physical model it requires computer aided design software. The virtual designs are made using CAD file by using 3 dimensional modeling programs or by using 3D scanner. The created file is sent to the three dimensional printer and along the way, the software slices the design model into thousands or hundreds of horizontal layers. Hence these layers are printed layer by layer that is printed along the way top until the object is complete.

Many manufactures used printers in long for the design process to develop or create prototype in traditional manufacturing. But last few years printers have become expensive & slow. What is 3D printing? It is the process of making 3D solid object from a file. 3D printers are industrial robots. Now with the introduction of fast 3D printers the expense is moreover affordable (thousands of dollars) only and it saves many companies in investing the amount in prototyping process. Nowadays NIKE Company use 3D printers to create variety of colored prototypes of chapels & shoes. Before some years they used to spend more money and time on a prototype. Now due to less cost of 3D printers they can change the designs instantly on the computer and prototype can be printed on the same day.

Some manufacturing company’s uses 3D printers for custom or short run where the printed physical objects are not prototype but original end user products. Suppose if any part of your washing machine got repair. Now you would order the damaged part from the repairman. He usually gets it from a distributor who purchase those things shipped from China. They may mass-produce hundreds or thousands at once which are developed from an expensive mold. Hence in future this kind of situation will completely be reduced or stopped. In future everyone may use 3D printers at home who can print right part from a downloaded CAD file or can able to print at nearby printer shops.

3D printing is a process of producing a three-dimensional object by placing many layers of a material one over the other. This form of printing is carried out under computer control.3D printing is otherwise known as three-dimensional printing. Three-dimensional objects can be created in any shape or structure and of any material. The source is basically from a 3D model or a digital model. 3D is entirely different from all other types of printing. In this process, powdered form of any material is applied over 3D inkjet printers.3D printing technology is used in industrial, commercial and many other applications. This technique is quite complex from 2D type of printing. A digital design is achieved using this 3D printing. 3D printing is supported by a 3D modeling software. This printing is said to be an additive manufacturing process. There are various types of three dimensional printing.

Three-dimensional printing is useful for making new products and technologies. It’s easy to operate the printer and anyone can operate it without any difficulty. But the cost of 3D printers is high and the software cannot be bought at affordable rates. It may take many numbers of days or months to print the 3D object. There are some printers available for personal use that is of medium cost.3D printers are designed in such a way that the people without any knowledge of printers can also use. This is in contrast to traditional method of printing. This printer is connected to the computer and operated with the help of 3D software. The software is helpful in creating 3D digital model. The model formed is sliced into layers. It is converted into a design that can be read by the printers.

There are various 3D printing technologies. Each printer varies from the other in printing different materials. Various materials like plastics, metals etc are used. Printers will process layer by layer and build a defined shape. Stereo lithography was the first 3D printing process and it was for commercial use. This method gives the exact result and end product will be complete. It works with the help of laser light. Digital light processing is another technique like lithography but it uses photopolymers for its operation.

3D printing is an advanced technology for manufacturing any parts and is different from the other manufacturing techniques that are present today. The objects can be created with perfect size and shape with interesting features at a reasonable price. Tools are not employed in this process, so it makes the job easier. It uses standard and quality materials for the product to give a long operating life. For the people who are still confused on what is 3D printing, the simple answer is, it’s the process of creating an object with layers.3D printing can make even complex designs simpler. With the advent of this technology, the whole world utilizes its use to make wonders happen. Definitely 3D printers are a boon to the industrialists and all others. If we have given new great things to the world, all the credit goes to this wonderful machine called 3D printer.

How 3D Printing Works

3D printing is an amazing technology which involves the process of making 3D solid object from a file (digital). The physical objects are created by using additive processes. It involves an object is created by placing down the successive material layers. Each layer is seen as slice thinned horizontal cross section of the physical object. How 3D Printing Works? At first you have to make a virtual design of the object that you want to create. The virtual designs are made using Computer Aided Design (CAD) modeling software such as Sketchup, Solidworks, 123D Design and Blender or by using 3D scanner. This 3D scanner will scan the object to make a digital copy. For generating 3D models, 3D scanners utilize different technologies such as volumetric scanning, structured or modulated light, time of flight and many more.

Nowadays many big IT companies like Google and Microsoft made their hardware to workout 3D scanning. Microsoft’s kinect is a good example. Hence in future we can expect smart phones with inclusion of this 3D scanning technology. Digitizing or scanning the real physical objects into 3D models will become easier than capturing pictures. 3D professional scanners are very expensive. When you decide to print the digital file for 3D printing the modeling 3D software slices out the object model into thousands of horizontal layers. On uploading the sliced file in 3D printer the physical object is created layer by layer. The 3D printer reads out each and every slice and creates a physical object by blending the layers hardly to stick together.

3D Printing Technologies

3D printer is an amazing technology where a real object is created through single process and has lot of benefits. It incredibly reduces time, money and man power. The 3D printer utilized by lot of manufacturing companies gives an efficient lifetime unbreakable products. The are various 3D printing technologies that exist today. They are Fused Deposition Modeling, Stereolithography, Selective Laser Sintering and more.

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)
In Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technology, a hot thermoplastic material is pushed from a temperature controlled print to produce real object with high accuracy to original 3D model. In this method, the object is split into two sections. The plastic is heated and melted and the liquid form plastic is squeezed through into the nozzle which extrudes into the required section of the object. Once a layer is laid, it is cooled and hardened and then the next layer is deposited. The set up is simple and easy to handle. The products produced with this technique and materials have good physical and chemical properties.

Stereolithography (SLA)
Stereolithography (SLA) was the first technology that was practiced in 3D printing. This technique is based on liquid printing and was used in 3D printers for commercial purposes. The idea behind this technology is to be appreciated as it produces a well-defined 3D object.  Stereo lithography was the only technology that was practiced in earlier days. After the advent of 3D printing technologies, this technology began to subside slightly. But it still used for many applications. In this method, the material is a liquid. This liquid material is converted into solid object with the help of a machine.

First, the CAD software processes the design or model and produces a file format that has description about the 3d object. The machine spreads the liquid and deposits a layer with the help of laser light. Once the layer becomes hard, the printer holds down for few seconds and starts printing the next layer. After the printing is done, the object is washed with a solution and placed in a UV furnace for the final finish. The printers need a design format and it must be understandable by them. STL is the format that Stereo lithography use for 3d object printing. This format contains all the information about the object such as size, shape, structure, geometry, measurements etc. The quality of the finished object depends on the type of SLA used. 

Other 3D Printing Technologies
In Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) 3D printing technology type an object is built by using laser to fuse together the successive layers of a mixer of other powdered substances like metal, ceramic, wax, nylon or other materials.

3D printing is a process that includes all the technologies for creating a three-dimensional object. Each technology uses a material. The materials for the technologies differ one from the other. The similarity between various technologies is that a computer is needed for all the methods and software is required to create a model or design for an object. The materials for these technologies can be plastic, metal, nylon etc. 

3D printing Materials

3D printing process produces an amazing final product and objects are created with fine materials which are strong enough. Materials like plastics, ceramics, metals and sand are used for many industrial prototyping & in productions. Types of 3D printing materials used in 3D printers are as follows:

There are lots of metal types which are used for industrial 3D printing. Most common used types are cobalt and aluminum derivates. And stainless steel metal in powdered form for melting or sintering or EBM processes. This silver metal can be plated with many other materials to produce bronze or gold effects. In last few years the gold and silver metal materials are used in 3D printers which find its place in jewelry applications. These two metals are really strong which are processed in powder form. Titanium is also one of the strongest metal materials used in industrial applications and it is usually supplied in powder form used for melting and sintering processes.

Metals are used for printing and used in many industrial applications. Stainless steel is a strong and thick metal that is used in powdered form for printing. It is silver colored and this can be coated with other metals to give a new appearance. Metals like gold and silver are widely used for making jewels. They are used directly for making designs. Titanium is another strong material that has some role in the printing industry. It has light weight and it is used in powdered form for creating models.

Ceramics & Paper
Ceramics are newly added 3D printing materials in 3D printers  and the process after printing has to go according to the same way as using traditional way of productions for example glazing and firing. The products are made out of 3D printing with different levels of success. The paper is easily available and less cost materials used in 3D printers. The objects created using paper are environmentally safe & friendly, recyclable and do not need post processing.

Filament form is widely used as the material in fused deposition modeling (FDM) process. Due to the properties of flexible, durable and strong ability of this plastic material it is reliable for 3D printing as well as the colour option. Colour can also be added during post printing. ABS is commonly used plastic and used in filament form in FDM 3D printers. This kind of plastic is strong and come in variety of colours. From lot of non proprietary source this plastic material can be bring in filament form. Thus it is popular. PLA are used in filament format for FDM process and resin form for SL/DSL processes. This plastic is bio degradable and comes in different colors including transparent. This has been useful for many applications of 3D printing. 

Plastics are strong materials that are used in 3D printing. Nylon is a white colored plastic material known for its high strength, low weight, good quality and durability. They are flexible and have a long life that can be used over a wide range of period. It is used alone as a raw material in the form of powder and even can be combined with other materials to produce another raw material for creating three-dimensional object. Nylon is also used as filaments in 3D printing technologies.

Bio Material & Food
The research has been on process for 3D printing using bio materials for medical and many other applications. Many institutions are researching to build human organs for transplant using living tissues through 3D printing and also using external tissues for body part replacements. Next research is to develop foodstuffs like meat using 3D printers. Research is been conducted to produce balanced whole meals using 3D printers and also printers are provided that work with sugar.

A wide range of materials is used in 3D printing industry. It includes plastic, polymers, metals, ceramics and many more. Each material has a physical and chemical property that differs from the other material. Don’t get confused on what material to choose and why. There are so many things to be considered while selecting a material. It’s always necessary to compare the materials with one another in order to rely on the best one.

3D printing Applications

Innovation of 3D printers is an excellent job and it involves the process of creating a real object from the 3D model digital file in printers. Here three dimensional objects are created by successive layers by additive manufacturing technologies. 3D printers are massively used in both manufacturing and industrial applications. 3D printing technology applied in industrial process is mainly to reduce the money and time consumption & producing the product on time and arrive quickly. Following are some of the 3D printing applications.

Jewellery Sector
Traditionally in the process of jewel making higher levels of expertise with more knowledge is required  in specific disciple like mould- making, fabrication, casting, forging, electroplating, stone cutting, gold smiting and polishing. Hence for making a single jewelry product lot of steps have been gone through and now with the introduction of 3D printing technology it saves time and money. Hence it eliminates many traditional steps that involved.

Medical Sector
In order to improve people’s lives lot of materials are developed and process has been improved with many technologies which meet standards of medical grade.  The research has been on process for 3D printing using bio materials for medical and many other applications. Many institutions are researching to build human organs for transplant using living tissues through 3D printing and also using external tissues for body part replacements. The technology is on process for the development of three dimensional printing of bones, skin, tissues and pharmaceuticals. Printing In addition to support of making prototypes for product development in dental and medical industries, the utilized technologies makes patterns for metal casting of tooth crowns and also in manufacturing of certain tools.

Electronics Sector
Lot and lot of electronics products are produced using 3D printers for smart phones, automobile and for military aerospace applications. For example Compared to traditional process printing cell phone antenna is very flexible, compact and reduced product thickness. It does not involve any process such as hard tooling, adding plastic resins and plating processes, completely driven digitally. The 3D printers directly print complex three dimensional molded interconnect devices with line and pitch on all surface materials. And also it directly writes down the needed specifications on the circuit and reduces the time in work process. The 3D printed circuits are used to create heater patterns on polycarbonate (PC) materials for automotive applications. The PC used in glazing applications saves weight up to 50% compared to glass using. Using 3D printers the open source robots are been built.

Architecture Sector
Transformation is the key in today’s worlds of design and manufacturing sectors. 3D printing has made its foot prints in art & furniture manufacturing, making toys for children and fashion. People in many countries scan their head and replicated in plastics. Colorful products are being produced with different kinds of materials and are strong enough. Some of the materials are reusable. 3D printing applications in architecture reduces number of steps, saves time in design phase and retains the fine details of the architectural plan.

Technology has started to tap the doors of all the business and industries to a great extent. Drastic changes are happening every minute in this digital world. 3D printing technology is first of its kind that was just invented to use in the industries. But man has started to understand its worth and has implemented the same in ample fields to great extent of his knowledge. People are just eager to use all kind of opportunity to execute and put into operation all the technology which gives pleasure and happiness to human kind. 3D printing applications is applicable and significant in all the major industries and business. They have brought a huge change in the way man is thinking from the land to the sky.

Slicer Tips

Basic Setting for Cura


  • Layer HeightThe height or thickness of every single layer. The lower layer height, the higher printing accuracy within certain limits.
  • Shell ThicknessThickness of the outside shell in the horizontal direction. Common setting as integral multiples of nozzle diameter to represent the outer wall print laps.
  • Enable retraction - refer to Advanced section.


  • Bottom/Top thickness - The thickness of top and bottom layer of the model. Common setting as integral multiples of layer height, keep it near your wall thickness to make an evenly strong part.
  • Fill density (%) - The net support structure inside the model. The higher fill percentage, the higher density of net support. 0 means non-fill, and 100% means solid fill.

Speed and Temperature

  • Printing Speed - The extruder’s moving speed. Printing speed decides the quality of printing model quality. Mankati Fullscale XT Plus’s default speed is 30mm/s. High speed printing can be set as 50-70mm/s. Higher speed printing needs a balance by increasing nozzle temperature, otherwise may easily cause shortage of filament’s feeding. Printing speed also depends on the shape of model and many  other factors. Recommended speed is lesser than70mm/s. Speed greater than 70mm may cause the step motor losing steps, which will reduce the model printing accuracy.
  • Printing temperature - Main extruder temperature (default as left extruder), setting according to the different melting temperatures of different filaments. 
  • 2nd extruder temperature: Vice extruder temperature (default as right extruder), setting according to the different melting temperatures of different filaments.
  • Default main extruder - Choose which one to be the main extruder. Default as left extruder. After finishing a model and you want to print another model in different filament(different colors and different  materials). Changing vice extruder as main extruder can solve frequent changing filament problem. This function can come effective only when printing single color filament.
  • Bed temperature - Temperature setting for the heated bed.


  • Support type - For the model with parts hanging in the air, support structure is a must when printing to ensure the parts hanging in the air will not collapse.
    1) None - No support, if you print model with parts hanging in the air but choose structure as none, the parts hanging in the air may drop.
    2) Touching Build Plate - Most commonly used support type, means the support will only been created when the support structure touches the build plate.
    3) Everywhere - Create support wherever there is part hanging in the air.
  • Platform adhesive type - Different options that help in preventing corners from lifting due to warping.
    1) None - Default form of using outsider lining.
    2) Brim - Adds a single layer thick flat area around your object which is easy to cut off afterwards, and the recommended option.
    3) Raft - Adds a thick raster at below the object and a thin interface between this and your object.
  • Support dual extrusion - Which extruder to use for support material. For easy break-away support you can use either extruder. You can choose main extruder (left extruder) to print main structure, 2nd extruder (right extruder) to print soluble support material.

Dual Extrusion

  • Wipe & prime tower - this option enable a tower to be printed when every layer of switching between nozzles.
  • Ooze shield - The ooze shield is a 1 line thick shell around the model which stands a few mm from the model. This shield is to catch any oozing from the unused nozzle in dual extrusion.


  • Diamter (mm) - The thickness of filament for extruder 1.
  • Diamter2 (mm) - The thickness of filament for extruder 2.
  • Flow (%) - Flow compensation, the amount of material extruded is multiplied by this value.


Advanced Setting for Cura


  • Nozzle size (mm) - The size (diameter) of the nozzle. General size is 0.4mm. 


  • Enable retraction - Retract the filament when the nozzle is moving over a non-printed area to avoid dropping and brushed. Details about the retraction can be configured in the advanced tab.
    1) Speed - Speed at which the filament is retracted, a higher retraction speed works better. Commonly used as 80mm/s. A very high retraction speed can lead to filament grinding or breaking.
    2) Distance - Amount of retraction. Set at 0 for no retraction at all. A value of 5 usually generates good result.
    3) Dual extrusion switch amount - Amount of retraction when switching nozzle with dual-extrusion.


  • Initial layer thickness (mm) - Layer thickness of the bottom layer. A thicker bottom layer makes sticking to the bed easier. Set to 0.0mm means setting the bottom thickness the same as other layers. 
  • Initial layer line width (%) - Extra width factor for the extrusion on the first layer.
  • Cut off object bottom (mm) - Which sinks the object into platform. This can be used for objects that do not have a flat bottom or cutting off the already finished model height in order to stick or montage with other parts easily.
  • Dual extrusion overlap (mm) - Adding a certain amount of overlapping extrusion on dual-extrusion prints.


  • Travel Speed (mm/s) - Moving speed without printing. Usually setting at 70 is the best choice, High travel speed may cause the motor missing steps problem.
  • Bottom layer speed (mm/s) - The bottom print speed. Recommended 20, set as 0 means the same as other layer. Reducing the bottom layer speed can help model stick more closely to platform.
  • Infill speed (mm/s) - Speed at which infill parts are printed. Recommended 40 with best performance. 0 means same print speed as other layer. Printing the infill faster can greatly reduce printing time, but this can negatively affect print quality.
  • Top/bottom speed (mm/s) - Speed at which top/bottom parts are printed. Recommended 25 with best performance. 0 means printing speed is used for the infill. Printing the top/bottom faster can greatly reduce printing time, but this can negatively affect print quality.
  • Inner/Outer shell speed (mm/s) - Speed at which inner/outer shells are printed. If set to 0 then the print speed is used. Printing the inner shell faster than the outer shell will reduce printing time. It is good to set this somewhere in between the outer shell speed and the infill printing speed.


  • Minimal layer time - The minimal time of printing layer to ensure enough cooling time before printing next layer. Print speed will adjust automatic to satisfy this feature.
  • Enable cooling fan - Enable cooling fan during printing to help cool filament down.
  • Closed bed after layers - Close bed temperature after certain layers. Not only energy, but also can prolong the life of the hot bed. 0 disable this feature.

Expert Setting for Cura

Dual extrusion

  • Wipe & prime tower volume per layer (mm3) - The wipe tower is a tower printed on every layer when switching between nozzles.The amount of material put in the wipe/prime tower. This is done in volume because in general you want to extruder a certain amount of volume to get the extruder going, independent on the layer height. This means that with thinner layers, your tower gets bigger.


  • Minimum travel (mm) - Minimum amount of travel needed for a retraction to carry all. To make sure you do not get a lot of retraction in a small area, value of 2 is recommended as best performance, too small will lead to frequent retraction.
  • Enable combing - Combing is the act of avoiding holes in the print from the head to travel over. If enable combing, the extruder will always touch the surface of model but disable retraction. If combing is disabled the printer head moves straight from the start point to the end point and it will always retract. 
  • Minimal extrusion before retracting (mm) - The minimal extrusion that needs to be done before retracting again. If a retraction needs to happen before this minimal is reached the retraction is ignored. This avoids retraction a lot on the same piece of filament which flattens the filament and causes grinding issues. Recommended 0.02 at best performance, 0 means unlimited retraction frequency.
  • Z hop when retracting (mm) - See function prompt in the software.


  • Line count - The skirt is a line drawn around the object at the first layer. This helps to prime your extruder, and to see if the object fits on your  platform. Recommended setting is 1 with best performance. Setting this to 0 will disable the skirt. Multiple skirt lines can help priming your extruder better for smaller objects.
  • Start distance (mm) - The distance between skirt line and model. Default distance is 3. 
  • Minimal length (mm) - The minimal length of the skirt, if this minimal length is not reached it will add more skirt lines to reach this minimal length. Recommended setting is 260 with best performance. If the line count is set to 0 this option is ignored.


  • Fan full on at height (mm) - The height at which the fan is  turned on completely. For the layers below this the fan speed is scaled linear with the fan off at layer 0.
  • Fan speed min (%) - Minimal fan speed during normal printing.
  • Fan speed max (%) - Maximal fan speed when automatic slowing down printing.
  • Minimum speed (mm/s) - Minimum printing speed of each layer. Recommended setting is 10 with best performance. Too slow will result in nozzle oozing.
  • Cool head lift - Lifting the head if the minimal layer time is not enough, to extend the cooling time for model cooling.


  • Solid infill top - Create a solid top surface, if set to false the top is filled with the fill percentage. Disable this feature and set fill density as 0 to print cups/vases that are without top model.
  • Solid infill bottom - Create a solid bottom surface, if set to false the bottom is filled with the fill percentage. Disable this feature and set fill density as 0 to print buildings that are without bottom model.
  • Infill overlap (%) - Amount of overlap between the infill and the walls. There is a slight overlap with the walls and the infill so the walls connect firmly to the infill. Recommended setting as 10 with best performance. Too big will influence quality of model surface.


  • Structure type - See function prompt in the software. 
  • Overhang angle for support (degree) - The minimal degree that overhangs need to have support.
  • Fill amount (%) - Support print density. Recommended setting as 15 with best performance. More density makes the support not easy to remove. Less density influences print quality.
  • Distance X/Y (mm) - Distance of the support material from the print, in the X/Y directions. 0.7mm gives a nice distance from the print so the support does not stick to the print. Too far will influence support performance.
  • Distance Z - Distance from the top/bottom of the support to the print. A small gap here makes it easier to remove the support but makes the print a bit uglier. 0.15mm gives a good separation of the support material. Too far will influence support performance.

Black Magic

  • Spiralize the outer contour - New function in MankatiUM 6.5. Spiralize is smoothing out the Z move of the outer edge. This will create a steady Z increase over the whole print. This feature turns a solid object into a single walled print with a solid bottom. When enabling this feature, the top will not be printed and automatically setting infill as 0.
  • Only follow mesh surface - new function in MankatiUM 6.5. See function prompt in the software.


  • Brim line amount - Default as 5. The model will stick to the platform more firmly if more brim lines.


  • Extra margin (mm) - If the raft is enabled, this is the extra raft area around the object which is also rafted.
  • Line spacing (mm) - See function prompt in the software.
  • Base thickness (mm) - See function prompt in the software.
  • Base line width (mm) - See function prompt in the software.
  • Interface thickness (mm) - See function prompt in the software.
  • Interface line width (mm) - See function prompt in the software.
  • Airgap - See function prompt in the software.
  • First Layer Airgap - See function prompt in the software.
  • Surface layer - See function prompt in the software.
  • Surface layer thickness (mm) - See function prompt in the software.
  • Surface layer line width (mm) - See function prompt in the software.

Fix Horrible

  • Combing everything ( Type-A ) & ( Type-B ) - This expert option adds all parts of the model together. The result is usually that internal cavities disappear. Depending on the model this can be intended or not. Enabling this option is at your own risk. Type-A is depended on the model normals and tries to keep some interal holes intace. Type-B ignores all internal holes and only keeps the outside shape per layer. 
  • Keep open faces - This expert option keeps all the open faces of the model intact. Normally Mankati tries to stitch up small holes and remove everything with big holes, but this option keeps faces that are not properly part of anything and just goes with whatever it is enable you to slice models otherwise failing to produce proper paths. As with all "Fix horrible" options, results may vary and use at your own risk.
  • Extensive stitching - Extensive stitching tries to fix up open holes in the model by closing the hole with touching polygons. This algorthm is quite expensive and cloud introduce a lot of processing time. As with all "Fix horrible" options, results may vary and use at your own risk.

Printing Tips

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