Types of 3D Printing Technologies and Processes

- Sep 13, 2018-

There are several ways to 3D print. All these technologies are additive, differing mainly in the way layers are build to create an object.

Some methods use melting or softening material to extrude layers. Others cure a photo-reactive resin with a UV laser (or another similar light source) layer by layer.

To be more precise: since 2010, the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) group “ASTM F42 – Additive Manufacturing”, developed a set of standards that classify the Additive Manufacturing processes into 7 categories  according to Standard Terminology for Additive Manufacturing Technologies. These seven processes are:

1.Vat Photopolymerisation

A 3D printer based on the Vat Photopolymerisation method has a container filled with photopolymer resin which is then hardened with a UV light source.

1.Stereolithography (SLA)

2.Digital Light Processing (DLP)

3.Continuous Liquid Interface Production (CLIP)

2.Material Jetting

In this process, material is applied in droplets through a small diameter nozzle, similar to the way a common inkjet paper printer works, but it is applied layer-by-layer to a build platform making a 3D object and then hardened by UV light.

3.Binder Jetting

With binder jetting two materials are used: powder base material and a liquid binder. In the build chamber, powder is spread in equal layers and binder is applied through jet nozzles that “glue” the powder particles in the shape of a programmed 3D object. The finished object is “glued together” by binder remains in the container with the powder base material. After the print is finished, the remaining powder is cleaned off and used for 3D printing the next object.

4.Material Extrusion

The most commonly used technology in this process is Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM).

1.Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)

2.Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF)

5.Powder Bed Fusion

The most commonly used technology in this processes is Selective Laser Sintering (SLS).

1.Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)

2.Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS)

6.Sheet Lamination

Sheet lamination involves material in sheets which is bound together with external force. Sheets can be metal, paper or a form of polymer. Metal sheets are welded together by ultrasonic welding in layers and then CNC milled into a proper shape. Paper sheets can be used also, but they are glued by adhesive glue and cut in shape by precise blades. 

7.Directed Energy Deposition

This process is mostly used in the high-tech metal industry and in rapid manufacturing applications. The 3D printing apparatus is usually attached to a multi-axis robotic arm and consists of a nozzle that deposits metal powder or wire on a surface and an energy source (laser, electron beam or plasma arc) that melts it, forming a solid object.

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