Any 3D Printing for Dummies tutorials out there?

 From:  blowlamp
5576.3 In reply to 5576.1 
Well as usual, Michael is first out of the blocks and seems to have it covered, but here's my contribution anyway.

These things seem to use a similar process to MRI Scanners seen in hospitals and suchlike. Whereby an item is 'printed' in a series of cross sections, which are stacked vertically, and eventually a replica is produced.

The cross sections can be generated by a kind of 'waterline' process.

So imagine your part is in a container that is filled with a small quantity of liquid - where the part and liquid meet is a waterline contour and is equivalent to the outline shape of the first pass of the print. Keep repeating the process by adding a small amount of liquid and recording the outline, and by the time your part is fully submerged you should have a complete image.

To simulate this in MoI, you could draw your solid chain (leave a small gap between the links) and do a Boolean Isect with a planar surface. This would be equivalent to a layer in the printed stack. Obviously a planar surface has no thickness, but the principle is there.

One way these printers work is to deposit layers of powder which are then solidified in the required areas by a laser. The remaining powder acts as a support for the item whilst it's being created, so the finished article is then 'dug out' and the powder is used again.