What is 3D Printing?

3D printing is the conversion of a digital 3D model to a fixed object.
Until now, all 3D printing techniques work by layer-by-layer building of the object. There is a lot of spring research done on 3D printing, so that new techniques are constantly being developed.
3D printing is a collective name for multiple techniques.

FFF

FUSED FILAMENT FABRICATION

DLP

DIGITAL LIGHT PROCESSING

SLA

STEREO LITHOGRAPHY APPARATUS

SLS

SELECTIVE LASER SINTERING

FUSED FILAMENT FABRICATION

FFF printing is an additive process where heated thermoplastic filament is deposited in layers using a heated extruder head. The molten plastic is forced trough the printer head’s nozzle. The layers that will be printed are created with software called a Slicers. Slicers convert 3D files in layers and eventually a digital instruction file that the 3D printer can read and is used for the precise electronic controls the printer needs to control the printer head.

FFF printing uses different types of filament, that come in large coils. Filament is available in a wide variety of materials, including: Acrylonite butadiene styrene (ABS), Higg-impact polystyrene (HIPS), Polylactid Acid (PLA), Thermoplactic polyurethane (TPU), Nylon and PEEK.

Most of these materials can be printed by the same printer, but some materials need a bit more care or functionalities. ABS plastics, for instance, need a closed chamber that is heated so the material cannot shrink during the printing process.

FFF

FUNMAT-HT-Peek_3D-printer

FFF

VS

FDM

What is the difference?

FDM And FFF are the same technology. FFF stands for Fused Filament Fabrication, FDM stands for Fused Deposition Modelling.

The difference lies in the fact that FFF is a open source name that is created by the RepRap Community (A 3d printing community), while FDM is a trademark name by Stratysys Inc. Technically they are the same.

DIGITAL LIGHT PROCESSING

DLP 3D printers make use of a digital light projector (DLP) as the light source for curing photo-reactive polymers also called resin.
The advantage of DLP 3D printing is that you can place multiple objects next to each other without increasing the printing time.
This is achieved because the projector cures the entire layer in one go. The printing time will only be increased when the height of the objects increases.

DLP 3D printers are capable of printing objects with a very high resolution.
XY: Up to 75 Micron
Z: 20 – 100 Micron

This makes DLP 3D perfect for applications like: Dentistry, Engineering, Manufacturing and many more

DLP

Moonray D & S DLP 3D printers

SLA

STEREO LITHOGRAPHY APPARATUS

SLA 3D Printing works similar to DLP printing. The main difference is that you work with SLA with a Laser instead of a light projector.
Printing time with an SLA 3D printer is similar to that of an FFF printer. A certain pattern must be followed during procedures. Of course, the laser goes much faster than a FFF printhead, however a SLA print consists of many more layers.

DLP OR SLA

Because DLP and SLA 3D printing is very similar, it can be difficult to make a choice.
Both techniques have their own advantages and disadvantages.
Go to the comparison page to see which technique is the best for your company.

COMPARISON

SLS

SLS 3D printer

SELECTIVE LASER SINTERING

SLS 3D printers operate with a laser that sinter plastic powder into a solid structure. SLS 3D printers have been a popular choice for engineers in product development for decades. With SLS 3D printers you have relatively low costs per part. High productivity and established materials make the technology ideal for a wide range of applications, from functional prototyping to small batch production. Recent developments have made the machines, materials and software accessible to a wider range of companies, enabling more and more companies to use tools that were previously limited to a few high-tech industries.
A powder is applied to the print bed layer by layer. This powder is heated to just below the melting point. The laser then scans a cross-section of the 3D model so that the powder reaches just below or at the melting point. As a result, the particles are combined into one solid component. The remaining powder supports the part during printing, so no support material needs to be printed.
The layer thickness of the model is usually between 50 & 200μ.
When the print is ready, the remaining powder can be reused.