OK! So know you might know well about the additive manufacturing technology, known as 3D printing. In short, you create a 3D object by adding layers-upon-layers, which is exactly equal to the 3D sketch in your mind and on the connected digital device.
Going a bit deep into this 3D printing technology ocean, you ought to know that now you could obtain 3D objects of various materials, including liquid, plastic, powder filament, metals, ceramics and even with the sheets of paper as raw materials.
And going even deeper, you would be even more pleased to know that you could buy 3D printers in hoards of varieties, all according to your needs and budgets.
Do you wish to know the latest varieties of 3D printers available to serve your domestic and industrial needs?
Well, read along to know the various types of prominent 3D printers you could buy:
Basic Types of 3D Printers:
3D Printers could basically be subdivided into the following major categories according to the technology they employ:
• Selective Laser Melting (SLM)
• Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM)
• Stereolithography (SLA)
• Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
• Electron Beam Melting (EBM)
• Digital Light Processing (DLP)
• Binder Jetting (BJ)
• Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM)
• Wax Casting or Material Jetting (MJ)
Let us know about all of these in a bit detail:
Selective Laser Melting (SLM):
Selective laser melting is a technology which consists of high-powered laser beams. This powerful laser beam is enough to melt the metallic powders fully and turn them to solid 3D parts.
The materials which are used in this include metallic elements such as aluminum, titanium, cobalt and alloys such as steel etc. This technology finds immense application in aerospace and medical orthopedics sector.
And using this, you could easily create the most intricate structures, such as ones with thin walls, complex geometries, hidden channels and voids etc.
Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM):
This is a common desktop 3D printing method where a thermoplastic filament is heated adequately, followed by extruding it through an extrusion head.
Consequently, the melted plastic is deposited in X and Y coordinates, while the layers of Z coordinate are formed by lowering the build table accordingly. This 3D printing technology is a cost-effective method for rapid prototyping relating education sector and small businesses etc.
This is one of the oldest 3D printing technologies, with its roots as old as of the year 1983. In this, a stratum of photosensitive liquid resin is exposed to a Ultra-Violet laser beam, till the resin turns solid.
As soon as the laser sweeps a coat of resin in the desired pattern and this turns hard, the laser prepares to lay the next layer on the top of the previous one, till the complete structure gets formed.
With SLA, expect to get smooth surfaced objects and it finds a wide application in the industries such as cosmetic dentistry and jewelry etc.
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS):
This is generally a high-flying industrial technology which uses costly high-powered lasers. In this, the 3D printer makes use of a powdered material in the built area, in place of resin.
A laser carefully sinters the granule layers, which holds the materials together and thus creates the desired object. After the object is formed, it might require some time to cool.
SLS is a large 3D printer that is mostly preferred by the commercial industries. The printers are compatible with wide range of materials including ceramics, nylon, glass, silver, aluminum and steel etc.
Electron Beam Melting (EBM):
EBM is comparatively a new 3D printing technology and as expected, more expensive too. It uses a digitally-controlled electron beam, which works under high vacuum.
These electron beams generate a temperature of about 1000o C, which is enough to fully melt a metallic powder. Metals such as titanium, Inconel625 and Inconel718 could be used in this, and the 3D printers find applications in aerospace industries etc.
Digital Light Processing (DLP):
Similar to Stereolithography, DLP 3D printers use liquid polymers. However, while SLA uses a laser, DLP employs special projectors. It uses digitally-controlled, micro-mirror grid, which rests on a semiconductor chip.
This technology is highly preferred in the industries due to its high 3D printing speed. With a 3D scanner to assist, it could bring results with excellent resolution and sturdy shapes.
Binder Jetting (BJ):
This kind of 3D Printer uses a duo of materials:
• A powder base
• A bonding agent
Similar to a regular 2D inkjet printer, the binder is extruded from the printhead in a liquid form. After a single layer gets formed, the process is repeated to develop the subsequent layer.
You could employ plastic materials, metals, ceramic or sand and also print in various colors with these 3D printers.
Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM):
Popularly known as LOM, these kinds of cheap 3D Printers employ a computer-controlled laser to generate heat and pressure and thus join the layers of metal laminates, adhesive-coated paper or plastics etc.
The object is formed in layers and though this technology is not as accurate as other commercially-used ones, it is affordable and speedy enough to create large parts rapidly.
Wax Casting or Material Jetting (MJ)
Before being a renowned technology today, the process used in this 3D printing has been in use by the jewelers since past many centuries. In this, molten wax is placed on the aluminum build platforms in several layers using nozzles.
As the layers get deposited, they solidify to form a complete object in very less time.
These are some of the most common types of 3D printers that find applications in domestic as well as industrial printing needs. And with this, you should also know that many of the business giants, manufacturing automotive and aircraft parts, have already made the best use of 3D printers.
So now, it’s your turn to get a suitable 3D printer for you and explore this exciting and enigmatic, revolutionary world.
While you think of getting a 3D printing kit, do not forget to assess your printing requirements and get the most suitable one that always favors your budget too.