FAQ on 3D printing

The 3D printing industry covers a wide range of technologies that are very different from each other but that are based on common principles. Often customers approaching additive manufacturing ask us questions about our 3D printing service. Below we have compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions:

What is 3D printing?

3D printing, also called rapid prototyping, is an additive technology that allows you to create an object layer by layer, starting directly from a 3D CAD model.

What is the difference between additive and subtractive techniques?

Subtractive techniques are those that use traditional machines such as lathes, milling cutters, etc., which, starting from a solid block, remove the excess material, until the desired piece is obtained with difficulty in making undercuts or complex cavities. These characteristics of the piece may require different processing positions, custom tools, or be impossible to make. The additive technological solutions used by 3D printers solve these problems by printing the object layer by layer and using, when needed, removable media for the suspended parts.

Can I print in 3D if I don't have a file?

No, but you can create a 3D file through CAD modeling or by scanning an existing object (reverse engineering).

What format should the files for 3D printing have?

The standard format is .stl, but conversions are possible from numerous interchange formats: .igs, .step, .parasolid, obtainable from the most common 3D CAD modeling software.

Can objects be printed in different materials?

Yes, the various technologies available on the market are constantly evolving and allow objects to be printed in many materials, from epoxy resins to nylon, from ABS to rubbers, up to metals. With some technologies you can also print different colors or different materials simultaneously in the same project. It is however important to keep in mind that the characteristics of a particular do not depend only on the material with which it is made, but also on the technology with which it is produced (eg injection molded ABS is very different from ABS extruded from wire, cast metal is different from sintered metal).