3D Printing Guide
FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) Is the 3D Printing technology most people are familiar with. It starts with a string of solid material called filament. This filament is fed into a heated nozzle where it melts and is extruded in a predetermined path, layer by layer to build the 3D Model.
This is the most affordable type of 3D Printing you can find, with the highest variety of materials. PLA, and ABS are the most common types and are available in a wide variety of colors.
FDM is great for quick, low cost prototypes for a wide variety of applications.
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) uses a laser to melt and solidify layers of powdered material into finished objects.
These printers have two beds that are called the pistons. When the printing process begins, a laser maps the first layer of the object in the powder, which selectively melts – or sinters – the material. Once a layer has been solidified, the print bed moves down slightly as the other bed containing the powder moves up; and a roller spreads a new layer of powder atop the object. This process is repeated, and the laser melts successive layers one by one until the desired object has been completed.
Metal Printing (Selective Laser Melting and Electron Beam Melting)
SLM and EBM are used in industrial 3D printing. Materials include various metals and alloys including steel, titanium, aluminum, cobalt-chrome and nickel.
Metal printing is considered the “holy grail” of additive manufacturing and 3D printing; it is widely used in the aerospace, aircraft, automotive and healthcare industry for a range of high-tech, low-volume use cases from prototyping to final production. 3D printed metal parts allow for monolithic construction (reducing the quantity of components), miniaturization and mass reduction. SLM and EBM have evolved to a stage where these prints are comparable to traditionally manufactured parts in terms of chemical composition, mechanical properties (static and fatigue) as well as microstructure.
SLA & DLP
SLA (Stereolithography) and DLP (Direct Light Processing are similar technologies. They both use a photopolymer resin that is solidified by a certain wavelength of UV light.
For SLA a small laser traces out the shape of each layer. For DLP a projector projects the whole layer at the same time to solidify the resin. Since both are done with light this gets much finer detail, much higher resolutions and an overall nicer looking print.
Although more expensive than FDM, SLA and DLP give you an almost completely finished product.
Material Jetting (PolyJet and MultiJet Modeling)
Material Jetting (Stratasys PolyJet and 3D Systems MultiJet Modeling) technologies are similar to inkjet printing, but instead of jetting drops of ink onto paper, these 3D printers jet layers of liquid photopolymer onto a build tray and cure them instantly using UV light.
The build process begins when the printer jets the liquid material onto the build tray. These jets are followed by UV light, which instantly cures the tiny droplets of liquid photopolymer. As the process is repeated, these thin layers accumulate on the build tray to create a precise object. Where overhangs or complex shapes require support, the printer jets a removable gel-like support material that is used temporarily, but can be removed after the print is completed.