You must have heard of 3D printing before. Every year we hear more and more about the possible applications of this technology, from the printing of car parts and components, to more fantastic applications, such as the printing of organs and construction materials to the printing of food. Regardless of the application, this type of technology has revolutionized the way we produce and market products.
However, 3D printing includes several applications and materials used, not all of which can be used by the same machine. That is why there are many types of 3D printers and each one is able to have a certain use and to use a certain type of material. In this article we will present five of the types of technology you can use in 2022.
Stereolithography was invented in the 1980’s, the first 3D printing technology created and is still one of the most popular types today. SLA technology, through a process called photopolymerization, uses a laser to harden the liquid resin into a hard plastic. This type of 3D printing has become popular due to its ability to produce objects with high precision, but also due to the mechanical and optical properties of the resin.
- Fused deposition modeling (FDM)
Extrusion printing is one of the most common and widely used types of 3D printers among home consumers, it is also known as fused filament printing (FFF). Just as the name suggests, printing is done by extruding a thermoplastic filament and a heated nozzle, which lays layer upon layer of material on a platform to create the desired object.
Some examples of thermoplastic filaments that can be used for 3D printing are:
- ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) and PLA (Polylactic acid), these being two of the most popular and used materials in the plastic category.
- PETG, Nylon;
- Carbon fiber.
The biggest advantages of this type of technology is the low price of the printers and the diversity of materials that can be used with it.
Digital Light Exposure (DLP)
Digital light exposure is a technology very similar to stereolithography. The major difference between the two and the biggest advantage is that DLP is much faster than SLA because digital light exposure technology uses a digital light projector to amplify each transverse part in a single flash.
A disadvantage of this type of printer is that in terms of materials used it is limited to photopolymers, which most often emit smells in the manufacturing process and can be problematic indoors.
Selective laser sintering (SLS)
SLS is a popular technology due to its low cost and high productivity. This printer uses a powerful laser to sinter polymer powder into a solid object. Parts made by this method are known for their high strength and durability. Compared to other types of printers, they do not need support when printing objects, and do not require a support structure. The most used material is nylon. This is a popular thermoplastic due to its mechanical properties such as light weight, durability and flexibility.
Laser metal sintering (SLM)
This technology is similar to SLS, but the main difference is that SLM is used in the production of metal objects. This printer heats the powder, using a high-power laser to completely melt the metal powder and melt it into the finished product. 3D printing is a technology that has revolutionized all means of production, both at the industrial level and at the level of the average consumer.