Anyone who has ever participated in arts and crafts, and used a hot glue gun already knows how 3D printing works. 

Surprisingly a simple hot glue gun operates just like the extruder of a 3D printer. 

A hot glue gun uses pressure (applied by the user) to push the solid glue stick through the heating element, making it “hot glue”.  The user controls the dispensing of hot glue in the two dimensions of the X&Y planes (thus making it 2D)… the user could use it in the third dimension, but that is just wasteful and beyond the scope of the device. 

Before we get in-depth ...

To 3D print you need 3 things: a 3D printer (or a source to utilize High end 3D printers like TRIONTA) a computer aided design (CAD) software (like SOLIDWORKS or Inventor) & most importantly – an Idea. 

With 3D printers becoming more and more easily accessible, any hobbyist can jump straight into the 3D printing game – but in the world of 3D printing, you get what you pay for.  Due to the way a 3D printer works, by adding layer upon layer of plastic (or some other material) to form a part, the lower end printers tend to make your part look like an Aztec temple...

StereoLithography (STL) created by Chuck Hall and 3DSystems in 1986 is the main file format for the Stereolithography Machine, or in marketing terms: The 3D Printer.

STL is crucial, but in actuality this essential format is rather dumb. Not dumb meaning useless, but limited on the information carried with it.

Here are a couple things that are left out when you hit ‘save as .stl’:

  • Units
  • Color
  • If it contains multiple bodies in your CAD program, they will be merged as one mass

After knowing this though - I assure you these omittances...