3D Printing: How Does It Work?

By: Vanessa Wojtusiak

3d printing

(WTNH) — 3D printing has become a controversial topic after lawmakers have uncovered a new reality: the ability to print guns using these printers at home. Guns created through this process have been called “ghost guns” and the plastic or metal guns are untraceable.

Professor Ranier Hebert, who is the Head of the University of Connecticut’s Additive Manufacturing Innovation Center, spoke with News 8 about the process of creating 3D print-outs of objects. The fields that the technology is most used in is for manufacturing as well as medical, however, the design industry has also used printing for jewelry.

UConn’s new Innovation Partnership Building has partnered with Connecticut technology companies including EversourceUTCPratt & Whitney and more to innovate and collaborate in the community and learn about new technologies.

This state-of-the-art building stores a variety of equipment, including 3D printers, which have been primarily used for manufacturing. Two types of printers are used to learn and create; plastic printers as well as metal printers. These particular printers range in price – plastic one located at UConn is a few thousand dollars while the more sophisticated metal printers can run upwards of millions of dollars. Consumers, however, can purchase basic plastic printers for about the same cost as a traditional paper printer.

Related Content: Push to Permanently Ban 3D Printed Guns After Federal Judge Blocks Release

Professor Hebert informed us that all someone would need is an object blueprint, which is a digital file plugged in through a USB device into the printer. Materials are then needed in the form or liquid or powder to melt down and create layers which are stacked to create the three-dimensional object. Some items can take only several hours to print, while larger pieces can take days.

Watch News 8’s Facebook Live conversation and see a demo showcasing the difference between a plastic printer and a metal printer at the UConn Innovation Partnership Building.