Beginners guide to 3D Printing

The Most Important 3D Printing Technologies & Materials You Need to Know

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[27/01/2020]

When you hear about 3D Printing Technologies, you may have to face these difficult terminologies like Stereolithography, Laser Sintering, and PolyJet Printing. If these terms are already giving you a headache, then believe me this article is the solution to this troubles. Here, we will go into details about the essential 3D printing technologies and 3D printing materials that are currently used on an industrial level. If you are not sure about waht a term means, you can check out this


1. Filament-based 3D Printing

Usually, home printers work with a plastic filament. The technology used in these printers is “Fused Filament Fabrication” (FFF). We are proud to say that in our 3D printing factory, the machines we use to implement the latest technology known as “Fused Deposition Modeling” (FDM) are more professional and are of industrial-grade.
The working of a Filament Based 3D printing includes the liquefaction of a long plastic filament which is fed by a spool to a nozzle, and drawn on that platform. And at that platform, it hardens immediately. The model is built up layer by layer as the nozzle moves to place the material in the right location. Once a layer is drawn, the platform lowers by one layer so the printer can start working on the next layer. Doesn’t it sound like the regular home printer? Interesting isn’t it? Well then, keep reading.

Now the cool part about our process is that unlike usual home printers our FDM machine uses a second filament which is used as supporting material in the design. As the material used to build the model can not be exposed to the air, with things like overhanging parts, we use support material to prevent the model from falling. Once the printing process is complete, the model is put into a bath with special soup. The support material dissolves in this solution automatically. All thanks to this, your designs can be complex, and contain interlocking, interlinking, and movable parts.

The Printing material used by these printers is ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene). It gives a strong and accurate print. ABS is very practical as it matches almost 80% of the properties of real injected production material. The only drawback of using this material is that the surface quality of the models produced using ABS is rougher when compared with other materials.

2. Powder-based 3D Printing


Another technique of printing 3D models is by using powder-based 3D Printers. Laser Sintering is used to create 3D prints in Polyamide, Alumide, Titanium, and Rubber-like. You can select the powder of your choice and then that powder is heated up to just below its melting point. The printer then spreads out a fine layer of this powder. The laser beam heats the powder in only the areas that need to be sintered together, raising their temperature to just above the melting point. As a result, the area that were hit by the beam are stuck together while the rest remaipons loose powder.
Just like filament-based 3D printing, powder-based printing is also done layer by layer, but now it is done with the help of a laser beam. After a layer is printed, a new fresh layer of heated powder is spread over the surface by a roller. After the completion of printing, the end product is a big block of powder with printed (sintered) models inside. To get the prints out of the powder block, the un-sintered powder is brushed away. You might be wondering what’s the supporting material in this process. Well, this process doesn’t need supporting material. The un-sintered powder acts as the supporting material. Complex designs, interlinking, and moving parts can be designed through powder-based 3D Printing without any drawbacks.

Other materials such as Stainless Steel and High-Detail Stainless Steel also rely on powder, but cannot be laser sintered. Therefore, we use a blinder to glue the parts together. This technology is referred to as “Powder-Binder-based 3D Printing”.

This process is quite similar to the Laser sintering technique; a roller puts a thin layer of powder on a platform. Rather than using the beam layer, this technique uses a binding agent at specific points, printing a thin layer of your model that can bind to subsequent layers. This process is then repeated over and over again until your model is complete. Some post-processing is also done after this 3D printing technology as your model is only glued together. The exact post-processing steps heavily depend on the material: Multicolor models get a bath in superglue, Ceramic prints are put in a drying oven and fired several times, whereas high-Detail Stainless Steel and Stainless Steel objects are placed in an oven for fusing. For extra strength, Stainless Steel models are additionally infused with Bronze.

The latest in Powder Based 3D Printing is MJF. Check out our guide on 3D Printing with MJF technology to learn more about this revolutionary new additive manufacturing technology.

3. Resin-based 3D Printing

Resin-based 3D printing is one of the most advanced 3D printing techniques. Printers used for this process can build a model of up to 0.5 meters. They use neither powder nor filament; they use liquid resin. This technique uses a large tank in which a layer of liquid polymer is spread over a platform. As the polymer used in this process is sensitive to UVrays. Hence, a UV beam is used to harden the liquid that is used to become one layer of our desired 3D model. The rest of the layer stays liquid. After completion of one layer, the platform is then lowered and then the next layer is drawn directly on top of the previous one.

When the object is complete, it is raised out of the tank via the supporting platform – while the excess liquid flows away. The supports will then be removed manually after the model is taken from the tank. This means that the design freedom of this technology is somewhat limited. The main advantages of materials printed with Stereolithography are smooth surfaces and a lot of finishing and post-processing possibilities. The major two differences between laser sintering and Stereolithography are the mediums (liquid and powder), and the supporting materials. Materials used in this printing process include HD Resin, Transparent Resin, Gray Resin, and Standard Resin. They all result in smooth and high-quality surfaces. Some other benefits of using these materials:

• HD resin can be printed to capture fine details.
• Transparent Resin comes with a transparent look with different tints.
• Gray Resin and Standard Resin come at a low price.

Another famous technology that uses similar methods to resin 3D Printing is “PolyJet Technology”. Material is jetted in the ultra-thin layers onto a build tray until the model is completed. Each layer is cured by UV light immediately after being jetted, producing fully cured models. As this technology produces a high level of detail, we call it High-Detail Resin. This does have its limitations, the maximum printing size is limited to 10 cm x 10 cm x 10 cm.


4. Lost-Wax 3D Printing & Casting

The cool thing about this technique is that the end product has the best quality. The surfaces are smooth and shiny. It gives a look of precious metals like a silver ring or a gold pendant which is exactly what a customer would want. But it has its limitations; complex designs can’t be built using this technique like a ball within a ball or links of chains.


Why should you know about 3D Printing Technology?


All the mentioned technologies or techniques still might seem confusing to you even after this easy note, but there are some things you should keep in mind. We cannot suppose that Stainless Steel and Silver will have similar requirements simply because they are both metals. They are printed using different technologies (Laser Sintering and Lost-Wax Casting) respectively and thus some design features will differ. Knowing these techniques will help you build better designs. You can design your model keeping in view which material and which technique will be used to 3D printin that 3D model. Having a little bit of knowledge about these techniques will help you get the best model. If not, at least you’ll be able to describe your requirements properly. It is also the technology of the future. If we are ever going to live on the mars, we will need 3D Printing!

Conclusion

Most of the above-mentioned techniques use expensive printers, requiring a lot of investment. However, you don’t need to worry about your investment capacity, because we have made the investment for you! You can access any of the above mentioned 3D printers and a material that suits your model, with just a few clicks. Upload a sketch, picture or a 3D model and get a price quote to 3D Print your baby here. High-quality 3D print and an extra fast delivery is waiting for you.

Edited By: Aaish Kanjer

Aaish Kanjer is the Co-founder and CEO of SKLPTOR. He is the one responsible for day to day operations at KOL. Amongst his hobbies are reading, football and evidently editing blog posts.

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