3D Printing for beginners series is our way of decoding the 3D Printing technology in the most simplistic way for you to learn and explore the basics of 3D Printing processes and the types of printing materials available.
We all have heard about 3D Printing and how this technology is going to disrupt the manufacturing industry and render the conventional mfg. processes obsolete. Although much of the latter part of this statement is a hyperbole, the former isn’t! 3D Printing has a potential to literally disrupt the economies of scale and introduce newer, faster, and efficient ways of manufacturing the parts. And with the advent of new types of printing materials, sky is the limit! So let’s throw some light on this topic: 3D Printing for beginners, which caters to the basics of this technology.
So what is 3D Printing? Amidst all the “technical” definitions surfacing the internet, here’s a basic analogy (hypothetical) which will help you to understand this technology better. Consider your desktop printers; while taking a regular print, you insert a paper into the printer, and give the “print” command. The print-head then moves to and fro depositing ink on the paper, and the printed paper comes out of the printer. Imagine what would happen if this very paper got stuck in the printer while printing?! Now, the print-head will keep depositing the ink at the same place over and over again. So when you come back to the printer after, say, a few hours, you will see a thickened layer of ink. This is basically how 3D Printing works.
It’s a manufacturing technology where material gets deposited layer by layer until the desired part geometry is fabricated. Since the material is deposited in the 3rd dimension (z-axis) and since the process is similar to desktop printing, the word 3D Printing was coined. The basic difference between 3D Printing and Conventional manufacturing is that, in 3D Printing, material is added layer by layer as opposed to conventional manufacturing where material is removed to achieve the desired geometry. Hence 3D Printing is also called as Additive Manufacturing (AM) and Conventional Manufacturing is referred to as Subtractive manufacturing. Know more about 3d Printing and Conventional Manufacturing.
3D printing processes are broadly classified as follows:
Although all of the 3D printing processes work on Additive technique, the process architecture and basic methodology of achieving the end result is different. We, at Chizel, currently work extensively with SLS, SLA, Polyjet, and FFF printers.
In the previous example of a desktop printer, if you were to replace the ink cartridge with a 3D Printed material, the paper with a build platform, and the print-head with an extruder, you would be close to building your own Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) 3D printer. In FFF systems, the material is deposited in the form of a filament onto a build platform. Whereas in Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) technology, instead of an extruder, you have a laser system which sinters a bed of powder material layer by layer. Stereolithography (SLA) technology, on the other hand, makes use of a vat of liquid(resin) photopolymer which is cured layer by layer using a UV laser. And as far as Binder jetting technology like Polyjet (PJ) is concerned, the material is jetted through tiny apertures (nozzles) and it is cured using a UV lamp.
Each of these technologies cater to the following types of printing materials:
- Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF):
- Selective Laser Sintering (SLS):
- Stereolithography (SLA):
- Polyjet (PJ):
- Ultra Detail Plastic