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Types of 3D Printing

FDM

 FUSED DEPOSITION MODELLING

HOW:     Long thin plastic filament, is pulled off a reel and fed through a heated nozzle. The plastic then melts and is deposited in a new layer on top of the last one. Each successive layer bonds & hardens rapidly as it cools.

PROs:     Easiest & cheapest method of printing. Widest variety of materials types & colours available.

CONs:     Lowest resolution. Surfaces have layered contoured surface lines. Long print times.

SLA, DLP & LCD

STEREOLITHOGRAPHY

HOW:     Light or laser is directed at a vat of liquid photopolymer resin. The exposed liquid, cures & hardens to form each successive layer. The fresh prints can then be further cured in an Ultraviolet oven.

PROs:     Highest resolutions & accuracy. Smoothest 3D printed surfaces.

CONs:     Materials generally expensive, not as strong & not as resistant to high temperatures. Removable support structures can leave marks on the part undersides.

SLS

SELECTIVE LASER SINTERING

HOW:     Fine powdered material is spread over the previous solidified layers below. A laser then melts and fuses them together.

PROs:     Capable of printing tough & flexible parts with medium resolutions. No support structures required. Large quantities of parts can be produced at relatively low cost. Capable of printing in metal. Parts can withstand high temperatures.

CONs:     Surface texture similar to a fine sandpaper.

MULTI-JET

HOW:     Liquid photopolymer resin is jetted onto each layer. And a UV light is used to harden and bond it onto the previous layer below.

PROs:     High resolutions and accuracy attainable. Highest number of colours and realistic palettes available.

CONs:     Materials generally expensive, not as strong & not as resistant to high temperatures.

MJF

MULTI JET FUSION

HOW:     Fine powdered material is spread over the previous solidified layers below. Binding agent is then jetted onto that new layer and heat is used to bond it to the previous layer.

PROs:     Capable of printing tough & flexible parts with medium resolutions. No support structures required. Large quantities of parts can be produced at relatively low cost. Parts can withstand high temperatures. Capable of full colour prints.

CONs:     Surface texture similar to a fine sandpaper.

LAMINATED

HOW:     Each layer has colour printed around the edges of the layers. Then it is cut out and glued onto the previous layers below.

PROs:     Capable of full colour prints. Support structures not required. Cheap paper materials.

CONs:     Slow printing speed & hollow prints not possible.

BONDED POWDER

HOW:     Fine powdered material is spread over the previous solidified layers below. Binder & ink are then jetted onto that new layer to give it colour and bond it to the previous layer.

PROs:     Capable of full colour prints. Support structures not required.

CONs:     Surface texture similar to a fine sandpaper. Parts are brittle like a ceramic. Material is generally expensive.