The Parts Of A 3D Printer
Below is an image labeling the parts of a 3D Printer. A 3D Printer is also known as a Cartesian Robot, it gets that name because a 3D Printer uses Cartesian coördinates when Printing; it moves along the X, Y, and Z axis in order to Print your object by putting down layers of your Print material (Printing Filament) until it Prints your finished product. An explanation of each part is below the image. If you see any corrections that need to be made to this page please let us know.
The Parts Of A 3D Printer
CONTROLLER: Your Computer (Not Shown) and the 3D Printing Software you put on it is the brain; the Controller can be considered the hand of your computer that moves the Extruder telling the 3D Printer how to print your object. On most 3D Printers the Controller also allows you to adjust the temperature of the Extruder.
EFFECTOR: Effectors are what the Stepper Motors on a Delta design 3D Printer connect to. They are essentially the control arms that move the Extruder. See image of the Kossel Clear Delta Printer below.
FILAMENT DRIVE (not labeled): Though really a separate mechanism, the Filament Drive is seldom directly referred to as it is considered to be a part of the Extruder. The Filament Drive is what pulls your Filament into the Extruder so that the heating element, which is also a part of the Extruder, can melt your Filament so that your 3D Printer can make objects with it.
STEPPER/STEP MOTOR: The Stepper or Step Motor, is a very precise motor that moves the Extruder along it’s coordinates.
THERMOPLASTIC EXTRUDER: Also simply known as the Extruder or Print Head, is that part of the 3D Printer where the Printer Filament ejects unto the Printer Bed after it is heated. It can be compared to the Print nozzle on a regular ink printer but the print filament in a 3D Printer takes the place of the ink used in regular 2D home Printers. The Extruder also contains the Filament Drive which pulls the Filament in and the Thermal Hot End that heats the Filament before it is forced through the Print Nozzle and placed on the Print Bed; This process is called Thermoplastic Extrusion, the more technical term being Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF). FFF is simply the layering of heated plastic in order to Print/fabricate an object. The Extruder and all of its parts are usually referred to as the Print Nozzle even though the Print Nozzle is actually just the end tip of the Extruder that the filament comes out of. The Extruder moves left and right along the X Axis and front and back along the Y. Your filament resides on a Print Spooler (Not Shown); It is normally simply a rod similar to that which holds thread on a sowing machine, that the filament can rotate around. The Controller on your 3D Printer normally allows you to adjust the temperature of your Extruder which is important when using Filaments such as the wood Filament Laywoo-D3.
NEEDLE: Normally a small hollow steel rod that the Extruder pushes Filament through to Print your object. Usually referred to as a Print Nozzle.
PRINT BED/PRINTER BED: The Print Bed is where your Finished Project/Product will end up. Normally the size of a 3D Printers Print Bed and the maximum range of motion for the length (Y Axis), width (X Axis), and height (Z Axis) of the Printer is a pretty good indication to the size of the largest object you can Print with that Printer at one time. The size of the Print Bed is commonly referred to as the Print Volume. The Print Bed moves up and down along the Z Axis to adjust to the height of the object being Printed while the Extruder moves along the X and Y Axis’s. Even though much more necessary for ABS plastic than PLA plastic we recommend you always purchase a Printer that has a heated Print Bed if it can use Filaments other than just PLA. A heated Print Bed allows higher temperature print materials, such as ABS filament, to set and cool properly ensuring there aren’t any cracks or other deformities in your Finished Product. Some Filaments do well without a heated Print Bed such as the Laywoo-D3 wood Filament. The Print Bed is normally made of glass or aluminum. Glass is normally smoother, aluminum conducts heat better but neither is really better than the other.
POWER SUPPLY: The Power Supply is exactly what you think it is, it simply provides the power to your 3D Printer. Most Power Supply’s for 3D Printers are very similar if not the same as the Power Supply’s found in your desktop computer. The Power Supply converts the direct current that comes from the outlets in your home, workshop, or wherever else you decide to Print into the alternating current your Printer needs.
END STOP: The End Stop resides along each axis and tells the Controller on the 3D Printer that it has reached the limit of how far the Extruder will move in that direction. The rods that come up from the Frame also connect to the End Stop, we recommend printers that use ball bearings to glide over the rods along it axis’s as ball bearings, which are normally steel, will last longer and have smoother operation than plastic ones.
FRAME: The Frame is simply the chassis/case for your 3D Printer. The most common types of frames are plywood, acrylic, and metals such as aluminum and stainless steel. Plywood frames usually keep the cost lower for 3D Printing kits and buying 3D Printers that are ready to go. Acrylic housings have the fun, see through, factor as acrylic is a transparent plastic. Acrylic is relatively tough and it is not as expensive as aluminum or steel housings. Metal housings, even though they make for a nosier Printer, have very high tolerances; the metal is rigid so there would be very little wobble or vibration in your Printer which makes your creations that more accurate.
LCD SCREEN: An LCD Screen is/can be added to many 3D Printers which allows your Printer to provide you information, such as the current Extruder temperature, without the use/need of a computer. You can see an example in the image below.
SD CARD READER: The SD Card Reader slot allows you to load Design Files, and other information, directly to your 3D Printer without needing to have a computer available to instruct your Printer on what to Print. You can see an example in the image below.
The Parts Of A 3D Printer: Delta Printers
NOTE: The LCD Screen, and SD Card Reader are NOT exclusive to Delta 3D Printers! Image is for illustration purposes for the aforementioned parts.
The Parts Of A Delta 3D Printer
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The Parts Of A 3D Printer
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