The idea of this section is to introduce you to the basics of 3D Printing. Most importantly, by defining it. We popularly refer to this technology as 3D Printing. Often we term them as Additive Manufacturing. We have also seen industries referring to them with Rapid Prototyping (RPT), Rapid Manufacturing, and Direct Manufacturing. So what’s exactly the parent term Additive Manufacturing? To define that, we look at the American Society for Testing and Materials or ASTM. The exact definition goes like this “Additive manufacturing is a process of joining materials to make objects from 3D model data, usually layer upon layer, as opposed to subtractive manufacturing technologies.”
At least to us, the term 3D Printing reminds us of the technology in Inkjet printers where inks lay down on the paper. Likewise, we see materials laid on the surface over layers to get the desired parts.
Before we deep-dive into the 3D Printing technology, we wanted to highlight subtractive manufacturing technologies. We usually call them a material removal process, as in CNC milling or turning. Now that we know what’s 3D printing, when you look at the process by which these parts are manufactured are many. However, we list broadly the technologies here.
Every technology offers unique advantages over others in bringing functionality, finish and standards
Vat Polymerisation (SLA, DLP): VAT polymerization is a class of 3D printing methods distinguished by the use of UV light for curing. In general, 3D printers do not deposit solid material. When the material is put into the 3D print bed, it becomes extremely viscous. The material must subsequently be cured in order to harden and thereby create the desired object. UV light is used in VAT polymerization techniques to cure material in a prefilled vat.
Material Jetting (MJP Polyjet ): Material jetting produces items the same way a two-dimensional ink jet printer does. A continuous or Drop on Demand (DOD) technique is used to jet material onto a build platform. Material is blasted onto the build surface or platform to solidify, and the model is constructed layer by layer.
Material Extrusion (FDM): A continuous filament of a thermoplastic substance is used in the form of filament is fed from a coil into a moving heated printer extruder head, also known as an extruder. The molten material is driven out of the extruder’s nozzle and placed first onto a heated 3D printing platform for increased adherence. When the first layer is finished, the extruder and platform are separated in one move, and the second layer may be deposited directly onto the growing workpiece. The extruder head is controlled by a computer. Cartesian topologies require at least three axes for the extruder to move, but polar and delta systems are also becoming more prevalent. Layer by layer material is laid until the part is done.
Powder Bed Fusion (SLS, DMLS or SLM, MJF) : Powder Bed Fusion (PBF) 3D printing technique creates precise items. This 3D printing process allows for the creation of a wide range of geometrically complicated items by employing a heat source, mostly laser or electron beams, to fuse powder particles layer by layer, resulting in the formation of a solid object. Manufacturers can benefit from significant design freedom since PBF offers a variety of feasible technologies and materials.
Binder Jetting : Droplets of liquid binding agent are dropped on a bed of granular materials before being sintered together.
Sheet lamination (LOM) : Individual material sheets are cut to form and bonded together.
Directed Energy deposition ( Laser Melting Deposition) : Metal in molten state poured and fused simultaneously
You will always start with creating a digital file which includes 3D modelling your object in CAD software. Next, slicing your model. What is Slicing? It is the process of converting your 3D CAD model to 2D layers with a set of machine language (G-Code) instructions for your printers to understand and process. Since we begin with or feed digital files to our machines this process can also be called digital manufacturing.
How does 3D Printing work or How to choose the right 3D Printing technology?
Choosing the right 3D Printing technology is based on the part geometry, material and also application.
Design Validation / Rough Prototype: To check the product form and fit in the initial stage of the product development life cycle. The most commonly used technology here is Fused Deposition Modelling ( FDM ).
Aesthetic Prototype: Prototype used in marketing campaigns replicating the final product’s finish. Technologies used – FDM or SLA with post-processing.
Functional Prototype/ Small batch production: 3D printed parts for end-use applications. The commonly used technologies are SLS or MJF. MJF in certain cases also facilitates smaller batch production of thermoplastic parts instead of investing in tooling.
Sometimes the material choice also plays a major role in selecting the right technology. Since each technology has its own portfolio of materials. Visit our material page or download our material brochure here.
The cost of 3D Printing depends on factors such as part complexity, material and technology. We have developed a quoting system that incorporates raw material, building strategy, time to print and post-processing, which quickly estimates the cost for 3D Printing in chennai. Upload your part and get an instant quote.
How do I ensure the success of my 3D Printed parts?
Though 3D Printing has lesser limitations in terms of manufacturing, there are certain factors to be considered while designing based on technology. Upload your parts and get free manufacturabilityfeedback with a quote to ensure the success of your prints
Talk to our experts to know more about 3D Printing