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What methods can we use for 3D printing?

3D printing is a process of making 3-dimensional objects also known as additive manufacturing.

In this process, the object is built by the 3D printers layer by layer until the final structure is formed. 

There are many techniques for the 3D printing process before using any technique you need to know its process.

We typically suggest some criteria for you to determine which technique meets your needs.

  1. Budget
  2.  Availability of resources
  3. Material Selection 
  4. Geometry
  5.  Mechanical requirements

Below we have broken down various 3D printing processes you can use on the basis of the above-mentioned criteria.

3D Printing methods

Vat Polymerization 

In this 3D printing method, the light source selectively solidifies/cures the resin in a vat. Stereolithography (SLA) and Digital Light Processing (DLP) are the common types of the Vat Polymerization process.

Stereolithography (SLA)

An SLA uses the mirror, with one positioned on X-axis and another on Y-axis. This mirror is known as Galvanometer or Galvos. This Galvos then constantly aims the lasers at the resin and solidify the structure in the building area, by building it layer by layer.

Digital Light Processing (DLP)

Digital Light Processing is quite similar to the SLA in that it curves the parts from the liquid using light.  The difference between these two technologies is that DLP uses a digital light projector while SLA uses UV lasers. The entire layer can be built at once by DLP 3D printers.

Material Extrusion

In this 3D printing process, the solid filament is pushed through the heated nozzle to give it a melting form. Then the molten material is placed on the build platform where the filament cools and solidifies.

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) is widely used for plastic parts. FDM printer shapes layer by layer to the plastic filament. In some instances, it can be used as functional testing.

Basically a coil of filament is loaded into the 3D printer. The nozzle of the printer is heated to the desired temperature so that when the motor pushes the filament through the nozzle it melts.

The molten material is laid down on the build plate so that it cools and solidifies.

Once a layer is completed, then the printers lay down another layer. This process is repetitive and the printer will lay down the layers until the object is fully formed.

Powder Bed Fusion (Polymers)

In this 3D printing process, thermal energy is induced in powdered particles in the build are to create a solid structure.

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)

SLS transforms nylon-based powders into the solid plastic. These parts are durable and suitable for testing. Many SLS parts are used as prototype designs.

Firstly the bin with the polymer powder is heated to a temperature just below the melting point of that polymer. A thin recoating blade will also be used in this process.

Now CO2 laser beam begins its work of scanning and solidify a cross-section of the object. This process works on a layer by layer. Once the layer is scanned, then the built platform will pull the one layer down. Now the recoating blade will put the fresh layer of powder on the previously scanned layer, and the laser will again scan and solidify a cross-section of the object.

These steps are repeated until the entire unit is manufactured. 

Jetting Process

In this 3D printing process, multiple photopolymer droplets are laid on the build plate. With the high-intensity beam, these droplets are cured/solidified.

Material Jetting (MJ)

Material Jetting is related to the standard inkjet printer. In MJ multiple layers are built on each other to create a solid part, instead of printing a single layer of ink.

Print head jets hundreds of tiny photopolymers and the UV lights solidify it. After one layer is made the build section will lower one layer and again the process is repeated.

Powder Bed Fusion (Metal)

In Metal Powder Bed Fusion, using thermal sources induce fusion between metal particles in a cross-sectional area to create a solid part.

Electronic Beam Melting (EBM)

EBM is quite similar to SLM. However, EBM uses the high energy beam to induce fusion between the particles of metal powder. 

With a high energy beam, it melts the metal powder and carves a structure from it over a specific cross-sectional area.

Selective Laser Melting (SLM)

It’s quite similar to the SLS where the powder is transformed into solid plastic. In SLM the powdered material is melted and then given a shape.

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