Are you looking for 3D printing machines to make or manufacture an item? Whether you’re an artist or a hard-core manufacturer, 3D printers are a necessity for the completion of your work. Let’s take a look at the varieties available, the 3D printing process of each, materials required and price to determine the best 3D printer suitable for you.
Now before I jump to the 3D printing machines you can avail, let me ask you first, what is 3D printing? 3D printing machine
The word “3D” stands for 3-Dimensional. Every item that you use is 3-dimensional. Your cell phone cover, your comb stand, your bathing soap, your childhood toys and I can go on and on. They all are 3D objects.
3D printing refers to creating these objects using a 3D design software in order to get the desired look and feel of the item. Not only can you print simple items like boxes, but you can also make complex structures such as action figures and toy cars.
How do the Various Types of 3D printing Machines Work?
A lot of technologies have evolved for printing various objects and designs. Following are the different types of 3D printing machines are available:
Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) or Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF)
Found in the 1980s, this is one of the most popularly used 3D technologies to date. From a building block to a unique candle stand, you can create anything out of it.
How it Works:
- You make the object in 3D software and then connect it to the printer.
- The software segregates the object into X, Y and Z axes coordinates for the printer to print step by step.
- Now, insert the object material into the printer.
- The material melts into a liquid and the printer extrudes it through the nozzle controlled by the 3D software.
- The material hardens as the machine prints every layer on the platform.
Materials Used: Nylon, ABS, PAP, PPSF
Mostly Used for Packaged Foods, Pharmaceuticals, Automobiles, and Toys
One of the oldest known methods, this technology is still one of the widest used technologies in the 3D printing machine industry.
How it Works:
- First, connect the soft copy to the printer.
- Next, pour the liquid into a container.
- A laser beam traces the object on the liquid to create the first layer.
- The above step continues until the object is ready.
- The liquid hardens with the process.
- Once the object is ready, take it out and wash it with alcohol to remove excess liquid.
Materials Used: Plastic, Resin, and Silicon Rubber
Mostly Used for: Prototypes, Fixtures, Tools, and Moulds
Digital Light Processing (DLP):
Similar to SLA, this technology uses digital micro-mirrors that are laid out on a semiconductor chip. It also has its own projector which reflects the 3D design. However, it is actually faster than an SLA printer. Let’s see how.
How it Works:
- The computer projects the 3D image in the form of a 2D layer (starting from the base layer).
- Pour the material in liquid form into its container.
- Using the light on the projector, the liquid starts takes its shape in one go.
- Then, the next layer is projected on the screen to repeat the above process.
- Once the topmost layer is done, allow the object to cool.
- At last, you take out the final product and clean it with alcohol.
Materials Used: Resin, ABS, Rubber, and Ceramic
Mostly Used for Architecture Models, Commercial Prototypes
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS): 3D printing
Another system found in the 1980s, this printer is expensive due to the laser technology it uses. This is mostly used by manufacturers only for functional prototypes, mechanical joints, and packaging materials.
How it Works:
- You need to convert the object file into .slt format before connecting the computer to the printer.
- Once you power the machine using a laser, the platform will rise.
- Insert the material into the machine. The roller will push it in powdered form on the platform.
- A CO2 laser traces the first layer which melts and fuses the material upon contact.
- On completion, the platform goes down.
- The above process will repeat until the object is ready.
- Let it cool for some time and then brush off the loose powder.
Materials Used: Nylon, Glass, Ceramic, Steel, Aluminium, and Carbon
Mostly Used for Hardware, Moulds, Packaging, Prototypes, Models, Tools, and Fixtures
Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM):
This technique creates the object by creating thin 2D sheets of the entire object’s shape. The machine joins these sheets together using heat to form the final product. The technique is more appropriate for simpler designs. The material is paper, plastic or resin. I won’t elaborate much as it is hardly used now.
3D printing service is important for ALL manufacturers. You also get small printers to use at home if you’re an engineering or architecture student. Now you know how so many of your items around you are really made, isn’t it?