Thinking about the status of 3D printers a decade ago, you would think of the terms like hulking, and expensive machines. They were little-known devices. People who knew about them belonged to a small circle of professionals. After a period where there were clarity and awareness movements held, here we are, discussing the wide range of 3D printers and how to choose the best one. Now, the products have become affordable and the production of such printers has been increased due to the increased demand.
3D printers are used by designers, engineers, and school-goers including some hobbyists. If you are in the market to buy a 3D printer, then knowing the various types is pretty important in order to be able to choose the right model. There are certain types that are optimized for a specific audience or the printing type. Preparing to take a shot buying a brand new 3D printer? Here is what you need to know.
There are many types of 3D printers of which some of the basic printers are discussed below:
Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)
- Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)
- Stereolithography (SLA)
- Digital Light Processing (DLP)
- Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
- Selective Laser Melting (SLM)
- Electron Beam Melting (EBM)
- Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM)
- Binder Jetting (BJ)
- Material Jetting
Also known as FDM, it is the most common and widespread used model of 3D printers. It is generally used for desktop printing. The filament which is made of thermoplastic gets heated up and melts the plastic according to the X-Y coordinates and for the printing along the Z axis, the object layer is lowered at every stage of printing.
This type of printing is the most cost efficient one for product development, education purposes, and other sectors where small and complex parts are involved. The printer, being cost-effective, also has other positives like being fast and accurate.
Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) Video
Abbreviated as SLA, this printer is one of the oldest with the oldest recorded dates of usage going back to 1983. The printer was invented by Chuck Hull.
The SLA works using UV laser beams and resins which are photosensitive. The ultraviolet beams are passed through the resins because of which the resins harden, and thus, you get the printed product.
Since the SLA prints more smoothly than most of the printers, it is used in the places where you need detailing and accuracy with smoothness and elegance. Hence, this printer is the best fit for making jewelry and cosmetic products.
Stereolithography (SLA) Video
Digital Light Processing (DLP)
The working of DLP and the SLA is quite similar. In fact, the working is the same as both the printers use photosensitive liquids which get harden producing the product. The only difference is that the SLA uses lasers to harden the product and DLP uses light from a special projector. The work on this printer started in about 1987.
The printers find the same applications as the SLA but is mostly used in the professional sector. The DLP printer gives out a high-resolution product.
Digital Light Processing (DLP) Video
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
The printer again is very similar to the SLA printers with reference to its working. The major difference comes in when the material used in the SLS printers is different to the SLA printers. The SLS printers use powdered material rather than liquid resins.
SLS printers are used majorly in the commercial and industry where you require constant product development. Industries like nylon, aluminum, and ceramics find these 3D printers handy.
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) Video
Selective Laser Melting (SLM)
This printer can be classified under SLS printers as this printer also has the same working principle as the SLS printers. Only the materials used to print the product are different. The SLM printers use high power laser beams which have the capacity to melt the metallic powder into the desired printed output.
Selective Laser Melting (SLM) Video
Electron Beam Melting (EBM)
The printer is in total contrast to the SLM printers. The printer, which is also abbreviated as EBM, uses an electron beam which is strictly computer controlled only. The printer creates a vacuum in it which melts the metallic powder with the help of lasers under high temperatures which can reach up to 1000 degrees.
The printed product is found to be the most expensive of all of the above printers and finds its applications in the field of medical implants and aeronautics.
Electron Beam Melting (EBM) Video
Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM)
Melting of the materials with high temperatures to print the product is the working principle of most of the printers, with only the materials and methods of heating being different. This LOM printer also has the same working principle. The printer uses layers of plastics or any other adhesive materials which are merged under high pressure and cuts through them with the help of a laser which is computer controlled, or with a knife.
Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM) Video
Binder Jetting (BJ)
The Binder Jetting or also known BJ was developed in the esteemed University, MIT. This printer does not use the conventional method of 3D printing but rather uses the working principle of the 2D printers.
The BJ uses powdered material with a high powered bonding agent which bonds the material together strongly and efficiently to give out the desired product.
Binder Jetting 3D Printer Video
As the name hints, the printer uses high quality wax which is casted into the desired output product by the printer, by means of melting away the wax.
This technique of melting the wax has been in use for centuries, even before the idea of 3D printing was introduced. The technique was generally used in the field of jewelry making.
Material Jetting 3D Printer Video
With the technique, integrated with the idea of 3D printing techniques, the application of this printer has increased substantially. If you are a jeweler or a wax designer or caster, this printer will give you the most accurate and precise design required.
Hence, coming to the end of the article, it has given you vital and crucial insights on which type of printer uses which type of material to mold or cut out the required product. Every printing technique and the associated printer to the technique is useful in a particular domain.
The printer which you need depends on the application which needs to be satisfied by use of the printer. So, choose the type of printer after doing precise research and observation about the desired application.