The option to 3d-print is quite convenient nowadays. Whether you’re looking to create your own product, or just want to have a souvenir of the trip down memory lane, 3D printing is one step closer.
Computer programmers are already starting to develop simple apps that will allow someone with little programming experience to make their very own object with the click of a button.
The options are endless for this new technology, and everyday people are starting to figure out how to take advantage of this simple yet effective method. If you’re curious about what the different types of 3D printing actually look like and how they work, just keep reading.
Everything from the football helmet that saved a little boy’s life to body parts can be created using 3D printers . Basically, it just prints material layer by layer until the object is formed.
Now there are different kinds of printers that can function in different ways, but all really work the same way.
Type of 3d Printing
Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)
The very first 3D printers were based on this technology, but they are the most common now. This printer is capable of creating basic objects quickly with minimal effort.
However, it has a few drawbacks that make it less ideal for certain purposes. One major problem with the FDM printer is that it does not produce high resolution prints .
It can only produce objects that are about a quarter of an inch high and have a resolution of 25 microns. This is because it does not have a technology that can produce higher resolution photographs.
That said, the FDM printer is the most reliable when it comes to producing around 100 different items in one go.
The next most common 3D printer is the SLA printer, which is also known as laser sintering . This printer uses a laser to trace patterns on photosensitive material, solidifying it layer by layer. This allows the printer to print objects with high resolution photographs.
However, printing takes a lot of time with this kind of printer since each layer needs to be “built” before the next one is added. The long build times are what have limited the capabilities of this printer, but newer models are being developed that can print using multiple lasers at once – essentially speeding up the process.
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
This printer uses a laser that is directed to print out the material needed to create an object, but unlike the SLA printer , the laser only traces the areas it is directed toward. This allows for more control, which leads to more intricate designs.
It also means the SLS printer can create higher resolution objects than other printers. However, this process takes longer than SLA printing since it has to trace out every inch of the object being printed.
Digital Light Processing (DLP)
This is the newest technology in the 3D printing industry. These printers use a process known as light-based additive manufacturing . The term “DLP” refers to both the method of using light while printing and the printer itself, which uses a digital projector to project light onto an object being printed.
DLP printers are only able to produce photographs with significantly lower resolution than SLA printers. But they are able to produce large objects quickly, so it is more cost effective than other types of printers.
Electron Beam Melting (EBM or E-beam)
As you can guess, this printer uses an electron beam. The beam is fired into a particular layer of the object being printed, causing it to melt and liquefy. The melted material is then collected and deposited onto another layer.
This process is not limited to just one layer but continues throughout the object being printed. EBM printers produce higher resolution photographs than other printers, which makes them better for larger projects.
However, they take more time to produce their final product and the build area of EBM printers is smaller than SLA and FDM printers.
Now that we know a bit about these different 3D printing processes, you can see where they all fall when it comes to use in everyday life. Still, there are some limitations in the technology. The biggest problem with 3D printing is relying on photographs alone for an object’s design.
The resolution of photographs is not high enough to create the object exactly as the photograph shows. This means that while designers can use 3D printing to create novel or intricate objects, they cannot print out something that is already made.
Another problem that doesn’t necessarily apply to just 3D printers but other product manufacturing methods is the cost of creating an object. It often takes a lot of money to build a prototype for testing before official production, especially for items with complex designs.
This is one reason why most companies are hesitant to adopt 3D technology. The other is that 3D printing is still relatively new, which means that even though it may offer great advancements in the future, it is not perfect today.
One thing to keep in mind about 3D printing is that it will not replace traditional manufacturing methods, but rather be another one of them.
Although the technology will make its way into more industries over time, it is unlikely to ever replace basic manufacturing methods like injection molding or machining. It will just provide a new tool for designers and producers alike to use when creating their products.