The creation of a 3D printed object is achieved using an additive process.
3D printing more correctly called "Rapid Prototyping" or "Additive Manufacture" is the process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file.
Digital files can be created in CAD packages and exported.
Intermediary software (known as "slicing" software or a "Slicer") is used to translate this CAD file into recognisable code called "G-code" which are instructions for the 3D Printing device to create the part.
More advanced slicing software will recognise the native CAD file, avoiding the necessity to export from the CAD system a 3D Printable file format (of which there are many types including
STL: The De Facto Standard.
OBJ: The Second Most Widely Used.
AMF: Prematurely Dubbed "STL 2.0"
3MF: The Potential New Standard.
When the G-code is sent to the device, in this additive process an object is created by laying down successive layers of material until the entire object is created.
Each of these layers can be seen as a thinly sliced horizontal cross-section of the final object.
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