3D Printing Processes

Tutorial by MON2

3D Printing Processes :

1. Stereolithography(SLA)
2. Digital Light Processing(DLP)
3. Fused deposition modeling (FDM)
4. Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
5. Electronic Beam Melting (EBM)

  1. Step 1: Stereolithography (SLA)

    Stereolithography (SL) is widely recognized as the first 3D printing process; it was certainly the first to be commercialised. SL is a laser-based process that works with photopolymer resins, that react with the laser and cure to form a solid in a very precise way to produce very accurate parts. It is a complex process, but simply put, the photopolymer resin is held in a vat with a movable platform inside. A laser beam is directed in the X-Y axes across the surface of the resin according to the 3D data supplied to the machine (the .stl file), whereby the resin hardens precisely where the laser hits the surface. Once the layer is completed, the platform within the vat drops down by a fraction (in the Z axis) and the subsequent layer is traced out by the laser. This continues until the entire object is completed and the platform can be raised out of the vat for removal.

    Because of the nature of the SL process, it requires support structures for some parts, specifically those with overhangs or undercuts. These structures need to be manually removed.

  2. Step 2: Digital Light Processing(DLP)

    DLP — or digital light processing — is a similar process to stereolithography in that it is a 3D printing process that works with photopolymers. The major difference is the light source. DLP uses a more conventional light source, such as an arc lamp, with a liquid crystal display panel or a deformable mirror device (DMD), which is applied to the entire surface of the vat of photopolymer resin in a single pass, generally making it faster than SL.

    Also like SL, DLP produces highly accurate parts with excellent resolution, but its similarities also include the same requirements for support structures and post-curing. However, one advantage of DLP over SL is that only a shallow vat of resin is required to facilitate the process, which generally results in less waste and lower running costs.

  3. Step 3: Fused deposition modeling (FDM)

    3D printing utilizing the extrusion of thermoplastic material is easily the most common — and recognizable — 3DP process. The most popular name for the process is Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM), due to its longevity, however this is a trade name, registered by Stratasys, the company that originally developed it. Stratasys’ FDM technology has been around since the early 1990’s and today is an industrial grade 3D printing process. However, the proliferation of entry-level 3D printers that have emerged since 2009 largely utilize a similar process, generally referred to as Freeform Fabrication (FFF), but in a more basic form due to patents still held by Stratasys. The earliest RepRap machines and all subsequent evolutions — open source and commercial — employ extrusion methodology. However, following Stratasys’ patent infringement filing against Afiniathere is a question mark over how the entry-level end of the market will develop now, with all of the machines potentially in Stratasys’ firing line for patent infringements.

    The process works by melting plastic filament that is deposited, via a heated extruder, a layer at a time, onto a build platform according to the 3D data supplied to the printer. Each layer hardens as it is deposited and bonds to the previous layer.

    Stratasys has developed a range of proprietary industrial grade materials for its FDM process that are suitable for some production applications. At the entry-level end of the market, materials are more limited, but the range is growing. The most common materials for entry-level FFF 3D printers are ABS and PLA.

  4. Step 4: Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)

    Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) is a technique that uses laser as power source to form solid 3D objects. This technique was developed by Carl Deckard, a student of Texas University, and his professor Joe Beaman in 1980s. Later on they took part in foundation of Desk Top Manufacturing (DTM) Corp., that was sold to its big competitor 3D Systems in 2001. As was stated previously, 3D systems Inc. developed stereolithography, which in some way is very similar to Selective Laser Sintering. The main difference between SLS and SLA is that it uses powdered material in the vat instead of liquid resin as stereolithography does.

    SLS is more spread among manufactures rather than 3D amateurs at home as this technology requires the use of high-powered lasers, which makes the printer to be very expensive. Though there are several start-ups the work on development of low-cost SLS printing machines. For example, Andreas Bastian has shared details about his developed that uses carbon and wax for printing. Another great example is the Focus SLS printer that can be easily used at home conditions and initially was presented at Thingiverse.

  5. Step 5: EBM

    The Electron Beam Melting 3D printing technique is a proprietary process developed by Swedish company Arcam. This metal printing method is very similar to the Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) process in terms of the formation of parts from metal powder. The key difference is the heat source, which, as the name suggests is an electron beam, rather than a laser, which necessitates that the procedure is carried out under vacuum conditions.

    EBM has the capability of creating fully-dense parts in a variety of metal alloys, even to medical grade, and as a result the technique has been particularly successful for a range of production applications in the medical industry, particularly for implants. However, other hi-tech sectors such as aerospace and automotive have also looked to EBM technology for manufacturing fulfillment.

  6. Step 6: SOURCE

    Source :



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