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Popular 3D Printing Processes
FDM FDM stands for Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM). Also known as Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF). It is the most commonly available and low cost prototyping process. FDM uses a continuous filament of a thermoplastic material fed from a large coil, through a moving, heated printer extruder head. The molten material is forced out of the print head’s nozzle and is deposited on the growing workpiece.
SLA / DLP SLA stands for Stereolithography. DLP stands for Digital Light Processing. SLA works by focusing an ultraviolet (UV) laser on to a vat of photopolymer resin.Photopolymers are sensitive to ultraviolet light, so the resin is photochemically solidified and forms a single layer of the desired 3D object. This process is repeated for each layer of the design until the 3D object is complete. SLA is most suitable for applications where high level of feature detail are required.
SLS SLS stands for Selective Laser Sintering. SLS uses a laser as the power source to sinter powdered material typically nylon/polyamide, aiming the laser automatically at points in space defined by a 3D model, binding the material together to create a solid structure. SLS is used for both prototyping and small-batch production of functional plastic parts with good mechanical properties.
Inkjet 3D Printing An inkjet print head moves across a bed of powder, selectively depositing a liquid binding material. A thin layer of powder is spread across the completed section and the process is repeated with each layer adhering to the last. This process produces parts of the highest dimensional accuracy with very smooth surface finish, used for both visual prototypes and tooling manufacturing.
DMLS DMLS stands for Direct Metal Laser Sintering. Also known as Selective Laser Melting (SLM). DMLS uses a high power-density laser to melt and fuse metallic powders together. This process produces high performance, end-use metal 3D printed parts for industrial applications in aerospace, automotive and medical.
Popular 3D Printing Materials
PLA Known as Polylactic acid, or PLA, this material has advantages as it is biodegradable. PLA is manufactured using renewable raw materials such as corn starch. PLA is one of the easiest materials to print, though it does have a tendency to shrink slightly after 3D printing. PLA also prints at a lower temperature than ABS, at between 190ºC to 230ºC. PLA is a more difficult material to manipulate due to its high cooling and solidification speed. It is also important to mention that models can deteriorate when in contact with water. However, the material is consistent, simple to use, and comes in a wide variety of colors, making it suitable for FDM 3D printing.
ABS ABS stands for acrylonitrile butadiene styrene. Its filament is the most commonly used 3D printing plastic, It is a thermoplastic and contains a base of elastomers based on polybutadiene that makes it more flexbile, and resistant to shocks, ABS is used in 3D printing when heated to between 230ºC and 260ºC. It is a tough material, able to easily withstand temperatures of -20ºC to 80ºC. In addition to its high strength, it is a reusable material and can be welded with chemical processes.
Nylon Nylon is generic name for polyamide. Constituting of semicrystalline structures, Nylon has a good balance of chemical and mechanical characteristics to offer good stability, rigidity, flexibility, and shock resistance. These advantages mean that the material has many applications across sectors and offers a high level of detail. Due to its high quality, polyamides are used in the manufacture of gears, parts for the aerospace market, automotive market, robotics, medical prostheses, and injection molds. Also due to its biocompatibility, nylon can be used to create parts that come into contact with food (except foods that contain alcohol).
ASA ASA stands for Acrylonitrile Styrene Acrylate. ASA is a thermoplastic developed as an alternative to acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), but with improved weather resistance, and is widely used in the automotive industry. It is used for general prototyping in 3D printing, where its UV resistance and mechanical properties It is a material that has similar properties to ABS, but has a greater resistance to UV rays. As with ABS, it is advised to print the material with a heated bed platform to prevent warping. When printing with ASA, similar print settings are used to ABS, but extra care must be taken to print with a closed chamber due to styrene emissions.
Resins The main advantages of our 3D printed resins are smooth surfaces, high-quality, detailed prints and a huge variety of finishing and post-processing possibilities. Their low-cost makes them ideal for prototyping applications. The color of the resin affects its properties. For example, grey resin is better suited for parts with fine details and white resin for parts that require a very smooth surface.
TPU Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) is a flexible, abrasion resistant thermoplastic and can withstand impacts and is resistant to many chemicals. In certain blends it can become very soft. When it comes to 3D printing, TPU 3D printed parts are durable and have the ability to withstand ambient temperatures of up to 80 degrees Celsius.
PEI PEI stands for Polyetherimide. polyimides are known for their strength, stability, mechanical properties, and more, they are also more difficult to melt, and can be less cost-effective to use. However, Polyethrimides also have Good processability, High chemical resistance, Superior properties for electrical insulation, Good flame resistance and High tensile strength with versatile temperature range.
PET Polyethylene terephthalate (aka. PET, PETE, PETG), is commonly seen in disposable plastic bottles. PET is the ideal filament for any pieces intended for contact with food. Moreover, the material is fairly rigid and has good chemical resistance. To obtain the best results when printing with PET, print at between 75-90ºC. PET is commonly marketed as a translucent filament, with variants such as PETG, PETE, and PETT also sold. Advantages of PET include that the material doesn’t release any odours when printing, and is 100% recyclable.
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