3D printing is the process of creating a physical object from a digital 3D model. It is performed without human intervention. The model is developed in a special program, saved in the STL format, and then sent to a 3D printer, which creates a real-world object in layers.
One layer of material is superimposed on a horizontal even surface, gradually all the others are above until the entire product is formed. The software monitors the process and sends the necessary commands to the printer, which almost completely eliminates the likelihood of errors or defects.
Models 3D print is in great demand among modelers, developers, architects, and designers. 3D printing technology allows them to get high-quality prototypes of future products, trial models and layouts for presentation.
The first 3D printers worked only with plastic, now printing with metal-plastic composites, metals, organics and even living cells is available. Nowadays, three-dimensional printers allow printing from different materials.
It uses ABS and PLA plastic, gypsum, metal, biomass, resins, etc. The variety of materials used significantly expands printing capabilities.
When assessing the cost of 3D printing services, some factors are taken into account:
- consumption of materials;
- cost of equipment;
- time spent;
- designing a computer model.
ABS plastic for 3D printing is used with FDM printers. Common, shockproof, does not change properties due to humidity and in an acidic environment.
It is used in the furniture, automotive and medical industries, as well as for the production of souvenirs. The price of 3D printing by ABS depends on the type of plastic selected (industrial or standard) and the thickness of the product walls. Making one-piece designs is even more expensive.
Stereolithography apparatus, SLA
This method of model 3D printing uses a liquid photopolymer as the starting material. The essence of SLA technology: the scanning system directs the laser beam to the photopolymer, as a result of which the material solidifies. As a photopolymer, a solid or brittle practically transparent material is used, which is quite easily glued, painted and processed.
Selective laser sintering, SLS
The method of selective laser sintering has many similarities with SLA technology, however, the powder is used as the initial component. The powder is distributed in even layers on a horizontal plane and then sintered in the desired areas under the action of a laser beam.
The powder that has not been baked serves as support, in cases when overhanging elements of the model are created, the need for special supporting structures automatically disappears.
Materials for SLS can be as follows: plastic, glass, metal, ceramics and foundry wax. At the end of the process, post-processing of the obtained model is often required, in particular, polishing, due to the surface roughness and layering of the 3D model print.
The prototypes obtained by SLS technology are durable and resistant to mechanical stress, so this technology is used to make fully functional product models.
Fusing deposition modeling, FDM print
When obtaining a model using FDM technology, layer-by-layer technology is also used. To create layers, a thermoplastic material is used, which is heated to a semi-liquid state on the print head of a 3D printer and squeezed onto the surface as a filament. As starting materials can be used: various types of plastic, tin and other metal alloys, and even chocolate.
Multi-jet modeling, MJM
Multi-jet modeling is one of the most promising technologies. As starting materials are used: photopolymers, plastic, wax – for consumer goods and prototyping, and special compounds – for the manufacture of prostheses, medical implants, and jewelry.
The principle of operation of MJM: the main and auxiliary materials are fed to a horizontal surface through the smallest nozzles of the print head of the printer. The number of nozzles can vary from tens to several hundred. The main material – photopolymer or wax, is applied layer by layer, fixed with an ultraviolet lamp, according to a predetermined algorithm. Auxiliary material fills the resulting voids, which preserves the integrity of the finished object. 3D technology MJM allows producing 3D objects with excellent physical properties and high surface quality, with a fairly complex model geometry.
Advantages and Disadvantages
All of the above 3D technologies have their advantages and disadvantages, which model 3D print technology you choose depends on your capabilities and surface quality requirements.
It is better to use a photopolymer on small parts, on products with engraving and logos. That would be expensive, but minimal processing will be required. If you have a large object with flat surfaces, then it is quite possible to do with FDM printing, but it is necessary to use post-printing processing.
You can order high-quality 3D model printing services from 3D printing prototype companies.
Benefits of Stereolithography (SLA):
- high accuracy of the finished model;
- the ability to get models very large in size up to 150 * 75 * 55 cm and up to 150 kg by weight;
- the resulting model is very durable and can withstand temperatures up to 100 ° C;
- the ability to produce complex models while preserving small decorative elements;
- a small amount of waste;
- the simplicity of post-processing of the model, if necessary.
Disadvantages of SLA:
- a small selection of materials;
- lack of color printing and the use of different materials in one cycle;
- low print speed;
- massive equipment, the high cost of such 3D printers.
Advantages of SLS:
- a large selection of materials that are used to create the model;
- the ability to create complex models;
- fairly high print speed;
- It is used for small-scale production and in the field of jewelry craftsmanship.
Disadvantages of SLS:
- the need for a sealed chamber and a powerful laser;
- It requires preliminary long-term heating of the powder, and it is also necessary to wait for the finished model to cool before removing powder residues;
- the need for post-processing of the finished product.
Advantages of FDM:
- high accuracy of the finished prototype (How to create a prototype?);
- high-speed manufacturing model;
- the possibility of using a wide range of materials, various polymers;
- low cost of creating a prototype product.
Disadvantages of FDM:
- dimensional limitations of the model printed on a 3D printer;
- the need and complexity of the subsequent post-processing of the finished prototype.