3D printing techniques have been around for decades. An important turning point occurred around 2009, when a consumer-friendly version of best 3D printer under 300 called FDM (fused deposition modeling) became publicly available after that patent expired. That led to a boom in affordable 3D printing devices, and today when most people think of 3D printers they imagine the FDM extrusion style. However, there are many types of 3D printing used in various industries: Here are several of the most important (and if you want to buy your own 3D printer, here’s where to look).
Fusion Deposition Modeling (FDM): FDM uses a simple nozzle to extra plastic filaments, which cool down into the 3D printer what is it shape. This is the cheapest version of 3D printing, and the kind available to consumers. Since it only needs a box, a nozzle, and a system to turn the digital data into movement, this type of printer can come in many different sizes.Stereolithography (SLA): Technically the first type of 3D printing to be invented back in the 1980s, SLA beams a laser at a reactive liquid resin so it instantly hardens.
The object is then pulled out of a vat of this liquid, layer by layer. SLA is capable of much greater detail than FDM, but the printing process is also more complex.Jetting processes: Jetting is somewhat similar to SLA, except instead of using a vat of liquid, it sprays a jet of reactive polymer onto a base, and then flashes a UV light to harden the polymer before spraying on the next layer (some versions also use powdered material and layers of glue, or change between materials).
It’s most similar to modern inkjet printer, except 3d printer definition jetting tends to use advanced polymers with unique properties. This method of printing can be very detailed, and it’s frequently used in industrial applications.Selective Laser Sintering (SLS): This type of printer starts with powdered materials that have very specific properties, such as polymides and thermoplastic elastomers. It uses a powerful laser to rapidly fuse (not melt!) these powders into the correct layers, forming a very durable object.
This industrial version of 3D printing definition is very useful for mass-producing functional parts or prototypes.Metal printing: Printing types like selective laser melting (SLM) and electron beam melting (EBM) use welding-like techniques to create objects. This printer moves a platform down slowly as layers of powdered metal are added and melted with incredible precision. This type of printing takes very powerful lasers and controlled environment, so it’s not usually seen outside of situational industrial manufacturing.