A Comprehensive Guide to 3D Printing Technologies

2023-07-26 18:15

3D printing is revolutionizing our lives, much like how automobiles once transformed transportation and the internet reshaped information dissemination. Are you ready to embrace this change and understand 3D printing technology now?

3d printing models

What is 3D Printing?

First, let’s understand what 3D printing is.

You can liken 3D printing to baking a cake. You mix all the ingredients together and layer them on a baking tray. Once the material solidifies, you have a cake. Similarly, 3D printing forms a solid object by adding material layer by layer.

3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, uses digital model files and a printer to stack layers of special materials like plastic or powdered metal, constructing complex shapes directly. The range of materials used in 3D printing is vast, from plastic, ceramics, metals, and even biological tissues, catering to a variety of needs.

What Types of 3D Printing Technologies Exist?

So, what types of 3D printing technologies are there?

There are numerous types of 3D printing technologies, which can be categorized based on the type of material used and the process involved. These include extrusion-based, resin-based, powder-based, and jetting 3D printing, as follows:

1. Extrusion-based 3D Printing

These methods use a material (usually thermoplastic filament) that is heated and extruded through a nozzle. The material hardens upon cooling, forming a 3D object. The most typical of these is Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) printing.

● Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM): This is one of the most common 3D printing technologies. It extrudes thermoplastic filament, heats it to its melting point, and extrudes it layer by layer to create a three-dimensional object. The popular online videos of 3D printed houses utilize FDM technology. This technology is widely used for prototype manufacturing, part production, and consumer goods production. LEGO, for instance, uses FDM to create prototypes of new bricks.

FDM 3d printing applications

Currently, FDM 3D printing technology is quite mature, and the precision and printing speed of corresponding FDM printers are continuously improving. The HPRT F210 High Precision FDM 3D Printer is a prime example of this.

HPRT F210 FDM 3d printer

This 3D printer features an all-metal integrated body and uses a V-shaped pulleys for smooth and stable movement, low noise, and wear resistance, ensuring a long service life. Its heating plate uses a high-quality lattice glass platform with strong adhesion, preventing the printed model from warping and allowing for quick manual model removal.

HPRT F210 FDM 3d printer equipped with V shaped pulleys

The F210 3D Printer has an intelligent protection system that supports power-off continuation, eliminating worries about unexpected power outages during the printing process, saving time, materials, and peace of mind. It also comes with a UI display screen with a user-friendly interactive design, making operation settings simple and printing progress clear at a glance, enabling beginners to quickly get started.

The HPRT F210 3D Printer is compatible with a variety of filaments such as PLA, TEPG, and TPU. Offering a high printing precision of up to ±0.2mm, this printer provides exceptional quality at a great value. As a hobby 3d printer, it is perfect for creating personalized crafts. There are numerous 3D printer models available online for free download, simply follow the operation guide to import the model into your computer, and the F210 3D Printer can print the work of your imagination.

2. Resin 3D Printing

These printing technologies primarily use photosensitive resin as the material. When the photosensitive resin is exposed to a specific type of light (usually ultraviolet light), it undergoes a hardening reaction. In this way, the resin can be stacked and solidified layer by layer to manufacture solid items. Common types include Stereolithography (SLA) and Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) 3D printing technologies.

● Stereolithography (SLA): SLA is the earliest 3D printing technology. It mainly utilizes the characteristic of liquid photosensitive resin to quickly solidify under the irradiation of an ultraviolet laser beam. Under computer control, the laser beam scans the liquid surface, causing the scanned area of the resin to solidify and form a thin layer of resin. By repeating this process, the entire product is formed.

SLA technology is mainly used to manufacture various molds and models. It can also be used for precision casting by adding other components to the raw materials. The workpiece after printing needs post-processing, such as strong light irradiation, electroplating, painting, or coloring, to obtain the final product. SLA printed products have high precision and good surface treatment effects, making them very suitable for making fine models such as dental models and jewelry.

● Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) 3D Printing: This is an emerging 3D printing technology. It uses a liquid crystal panel as the light source. By controlling the pixel switches on the liquid crystal panel, the UV light source’s light is projected onto the photosensitive resin in a preset shape, causing it to solidify and form a model. LCD 3D printing technology is popular for its high efficiency and low cost and is widely used in industries such as dentistry, jewelry, and toy manufacturing.

3. Powder 3D Printing

These methods use powdered materials, selectively melted or bonded together. The main printing technologies currently include Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), Selective Laser Melting (SLM), and Powder Bed Fusion (3DP).

● Selective Laser Sintering (SLS): SLS uses a laser to sinter powdered material, combining it to create a solid structure. It is often used with nylon and can produce parts with high strength and complex geometric shapes. SLS is commonly used in the aerospace and automotive industries to manufacture functional parts. BMW, for instance, uses SLS 3D printing technology to produce parts for their cars.

● Selective Laser Melting (SLM): This 3D printing technology is mainly used for metal powder materials. Its working principle is to use a high-energy laser beam to scan the powder bed, melting the metal powder layer by layer according to the CAD model’s cross-sectional data, forming a solid three-dimensional object. This method can manufacture parts with complex geometric shapes and internal structures, suitable for various industries such as aerospace, automotive, medical, and manufacturing.

Compared to other 3D printing powder technologies, SLM can create parts with higher density and superior mechanical properties, making it very useful for applications requiring high strength and durability. However, due to the high-energy lasers involved in the SLM printing process, the equipment cost, operational difficulty, and safety issues are relatively significant.

● Powder Bed Fusion (3DP): 3DP is a 3D printing technology that uses a powder bed and a binder. It sprays a binder onto the powder bed, bonding the powder particles together to form a solid layer. Then, a new layer of powder is added, and this process is repeated until the print is complete. 3DP technology is widely used in architecture, art, and biomedicine due to its ability to print parts with complex internal structures.

Currently, there has been some breakthrough in the 3D printing of aluminum alloy binder jetting. In the future, this technology is expected to be used for 3D printing manufacturing of parts for electric cars, electric planes, etc.

4. Jetting 3D Printing

These methods mainly realize printing by jetting out solidified material droplets from the print head. The main technologies include PolyJet 3D printing, ColorJet Printing (CJP), MultiJet Printing (MJP), and Multi Jet Fusion (MJF).

● PolyJet 3D Printing: PolyJet technology is similar to inkjet document printers, spraying layers of liquid photopolymers onto the build tray, which are then immediately cured by ultraviolet light, slowly accumulating layer by layer until a complete 3D model is built. This method is often used to create detailed prototypes, molds, and even multicolor models. Currently, some shoe companies use PolyJet 3D printing to create detailed and realistic shoe prototypes.

● ColorJet Printing (CJP) and MultiJet Printing (MJP): CJP and MJP are two 3D printing methods that use jetting technology. CJP uses a powder bed and colored binder, allowing for the printing of full-color parts. MJP can jet multiple materials simultaneously, creating composite parts with different physical properties. Both technologies are popular for their high precision and good surface quality and are widely used in prototype manufacturing, education, and artistic creation.

● Multi Jet Fusion (MJF): Developed by HP, MJF uses fine-grained powder and combines it with a binder. Then, a detailing agent is applied, which, when combined with heat, solidifies the part. MJF is known for its speed and ability to produce complex geometric parts, and it is often used in the automotive and consumer goods industries. For example, BMW uses MJF to produce parts for their cars.

The development potential of 3D printing technology is endless. Whether in medicine, architecture, education, or in art and design, 3D printing is opening up new possibilities. In this process, 3D printer manufacturers like HPRT are continuously innovating, committed to developing more efficient and precise 3D printing products to meet the needs of different fields. We have every reason to believe that the future of 3D printing will be even broader.

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