What Are The Different Types of 3D Printing?

There are different types of 3D printing, each with its benefits and drawbacks. Some of the most common techniques include Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), and Stereolithography (SLA).
Different Types of 3D Printing

Since we have many years of experience in this field, in this blog post, we’ll explore the differences between these three printing techniques and discuss which is best for specific applications. Stay tuned for part two of our 3D printing series, where we’ll take a closer look at some of the most common types of 3D printing on the market!

What Is 3D Printing?

3D printing is a process of making three-dimensional solid objects from a digital file. The creation of a 3D-printed object is achieved using additive processes, where successive layers of material are laid down in different shapes. 3D printing is the opposite of subtractive manufacturing which involves taking away layers from a piece of material to create an object.

3 Types of 3D Printing Techniques

3D printing techniques vary depending on the different types of 3d printers used and the materials being printed. The three most common types of 3D printing methods are stereolithography (SLA), selective laser sintering (SLS), and fused deposition modeling (FDM).

Stereolithography (SLA)

How does SLA work?

Stereolithography (SLA) is an additive manufacturing technology that creates physical objects from 3D computer-aided design (CAD) models. It uses a laser to trace a cross-sectional pattern of your model in a vat of photosensitive liquid resin. As the laser beam traces the pattern, the resin is solidified and forms a layer of the desired 3D object. This process is repeated for each successive layer until the object is completed.

SLA printing

What are the applications and advantages of SLA?

SLA technology can create prototypes and models for product design and engineering applications. It can also create molds for mass production or to produce final products in small quantities. SLA is well suitable for creating intricate shapes and detailed features that would be difficult or impossible to produce with other manufacturing methods.

SLA has several advantages over other additive manufacturing technologies, including its high accuracy and ability to produce very fine features. It also offers a wide range of material choices, including clear and flexible resins that can simulate different properties such as transparency, translucency, and elasticity.

Selective Laser Sintering

How does SLS work?

Selective laser sintering (SLS) is an additive manufacturing technique that uses a laser as the power source to sinter powdered material, aiming the laser automatically at points in space defined by a 3D model, and binding the material together to create a solid structure.

SLS is similar to selective laser melting (SLM), in which the material is fully melted rather than sintered. But it is different from direct metal laser sintering (DMLS), which melts and fuses the metal powder together by using a higher-powered laser. SLS is often suitable for prototyping, rapid tooling, and low-volume production of parts.

SLS printing

What materials can be used in SLS?

Materials that can be used in SLS include thermoplastic polymers, metals, ceramics, and glass. The most common polymer is polyamide (PA), also known as nylon. It is a white powder that looks and feels a lot like baking flour. Other common materials include acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), polystyrene (PS), and polycarbonate (PC).

Fused Deposition Modeling

How does FDM work?

Fused deposition modeling (FDM) is a 3D printing technology that uses a heated extruder to deposit melted material, layer by layer, to build up an object. It is similar to selective laser sintering (SLS), but instead of using a laser to melt the powder, FDM uses a filament of thermoplastic material.

FDM printing

What are the advantages and applications of SLS?

The advantage of FDM is that it is a much cheaper technology than SLS, and it can be used with a wider range of materials.

FDM is create prototypes and small-scale production parts. It is also suitable for the medical industry to create implants and prosthetics.

Related Article:

3D Printing VS. CNC Machining: How To Choose It For Your Prototypes?

Types of Materials in 3D Printing 

3D printing technology has revolutionized the manufacturing industry, allowing for faster and more efficient production of complex shapes and designs. The type of material used in 3D printing largely depends on the intended use of the final product.

materials in 3d printing

Thermoplastics, such as PLA and ABS, are the most common materials in 3D printing due to their affordability and versatility. Other materials such as metals, ceramics, and composites can also be suitable for 3D printing. But they are often more expensive and require specialized equipment.

Nylon and TPU are popular materials for creating flexible parts in 3D printing, while polycarbonates and PETG are used for creating clear and sturdy products. Conductive materials such as copper and graphene-infused filaments can also be used to create circuit components.

In recent years, bio-based materials such as wood-based filaments and biodegradable plastics have gained popularity among environmentally conscious 3D printing enthusiasts. With continued advancements in 3D printing technology, the range of available materials is constantly expanding, providing endless possibilities for product design and innovation. 

What Are The Common Applications Of 3D Printing?

3D printing technology has been around for a while now, and its applications are only limited by our imagination. Here are some of the most common ways that 3D printing is being used today:

-Prototyping: 3D printing is a quick and cost-effective way to create prototypes of new products. This allows companies to test out new designs before investing in expensive tooling or manufacturing processes.

-Customized products: With 3D printing, businesses can create customized products for their customers. This could be anything from personalized gifts to medical implants that are specifically designed to fit a patient’s body.

-End-use parts: In some cases, 3D printed parts can be used directly in final products. This is often seen in the aerospace and automotive industries, where complex parts are required that would be too expensive or difficult to produce using traditional manufacturing methods.

-Art and architecture: 3D printing is also being used more and more in the world of art and architecture. Printers can create intricate sculptures and structures that would be impossible to make by hand.

These are just a few of the many ways that 3D printing is being used today. As technology continues to develop, we can only imagine what new and exciting applications will be made possible in the future.

Why Is 3D Printing a Better Choice?

There are plenty of reasons to choose 3D printing over more traditional manufacturing methods. Here are just a few:

1. Increased accuracy and precision – When you use a 3D printer, there is no need for molds or other tooling. This means that your parts can be made with much greater accuracy and precision.

2. Increased flexibility – With 3D printing, you can make changes to your designs quickly and easily. This is perfect for prototyping or for making small batches of custom parts.

3. Lower costs – 3D printing is often cheaper than traditional manufacturing methods, especially when you don’t need the large quantities that would justify the cost of tooling.

4. Faster turnaround – 3D printing is a fast technology. This means that you can get your parts faster, without sacrificing quality.

5. Greater design freedom – With 3D printing, you are not limited by the constraints of traditional manufacturing methods. You can create parts with complex geometries and intricate designs.

6. Environmentally friendly – 3D printing is a green technology. It doesn’t produce any harmful emissions, and it uses less energy than traditional manufacturing methods.

Key Considerations While Choosing a 3D Printing Technique

-The first consideration is the cost of the 3D printing technology. Some technologies are expensive to purchase and maintain, while others are more affordable.

-The second consideration is the speed of the 3D printing technology. Some technologies are faster than others, so if speed is a factor, it should be considered when choosing a 3D printing technology.

-The third consideration is the flexibility of the 3D printing technology. Some technologies are more flexible than others, so if flexibility is a factor, it should be considered when choosing a 3D printing technology.

-The fourth consideration is the quality of the 3D printing technology. Some technologies produce higher-quality prints than others, so if quality is a factor, it should be considered when choosing a 3D printing technology.

Conclusion

3D printing is a process of making three-dimensional solid objects from a digital file. The technology has come a long way and is being used for various applications such as medical implants, aerospace engineering, automotive manufacturing, and many more. It offers great opportunities for businesses to improve their efficiency and productivity. Do not hesitate, to contact us to know more details!

FAQs

What’s the Most Common Type of 3D Printing?

There are several types of 3D printing technology, but the most common and widely used is called fused deposition modeling (FDM). FDM works by heating and extruding small beads of thermoplastic material, layer by layer, to build up an object. It’s a relatively simple process that can be used to create complex shapes.

Which Type of 3D Printing Offers High-Resolution Parts?

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) is the most popular type of 3D printing for high-resolution parts. It uses a laser to sinter (heat and fuse) small particles of plastic, metal, or glass powder into a solid object. The advantage of SLS is that it can create very intricate shapes with smooth surfaces.

What Are the Different Types of 3d Printers?

There are several different 3D printers available in the market today, such as SLA printers and FDM printers. 

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) is one of the most popular types that use melted plastic to build the layers of a 3D object.

Stereolithography (SLA) is another type that uses a laser to solidify liquid resin into solid objects.

The Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) 3D printers use a laser to sinter powdered materials like nylon or metal to create a solid object layer by layer.

Binder Jetting is yet another type in which droplets of the liquid binder are placed onto a powder bed to form layers of the final object.

The newly invented Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) uses a combination of inkjet printing, fusing agents, and heat to create layers of materials like nylon into a finished object.

These are just some of the many types of 3D printers available that cater to different needs depending on the budget, end-use application, and required quality. 

What 3D Printing Process Is Optimal for Prototyping?

For prototyping purposes, the optimal 3D printing process is Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM).

FDM is considered one of the most affordable and reliable techniques for 3D printing. The process involves a heated extruder head that melts and deposits a thermoplastic filament layer by layer, creating the model. 

The affordability and accessibility of FDM printers, as well as the variety of materials available for use, make it a popular choice for prototyping. Additionally, the ability to create parts with intricate geometries and details with FDM allows for the creation of complex prototype designs.

FDM is also relatively easy to use, making it a popular choice for people who are new to 3D printing. The only thing to keep in mind is that FDM printed parts may not be as precise as parts created with other printing techniques, which can be an important factor for some prototyping applications. 

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