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3D Printers

3D Printers

3D Printers 

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What is 3d printing?

3D printing or rapid prototyping is the process of creating a 3d physical model from a 3D digital model.

Several different techniques have been developed during the last 30 years but the affordable home and desktop 3D printers are currently limited to:fused filament fabrication (FFF) printing and stereolithography (SLA) prin...


What is 3d printing?

3D printing or rapid prototyping is the process of creating a 3d physical model from a 3D digital model.

Several different techniques have been developed during the last 30 years but the affordable home and desktop 3D printers are currently limited to:fused filament fabrication (FFF) printing and stereolithography (SLA) printing.Both techniques have their own strengts and weaknesses.

Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF):

FFF is the most affordable of the rapid prototyping techniques available on today’s market. The materials used are thermoplastics. Please take a look at our Filaments segment for more information about the different materials available on todays market.It works by laying down consecutive layers of material at high temperatures, allowing the adjacent layers to cool and bond together before the next layer is extruded.

The process consist of slicing a 3d models into layers. These layers are usually 0.1 to 0.4 mm thick with an average of 0.2 mm in most cases. The 3d model usually has the .stl (STereoLithography) extension.There are plenty of CAD (computer aided design) programs available on today’s market. A good place to start your search for the software that is right for you is http://reprap.org/wiki/Software.

The strong points usually associated with FFF are: Affordable, a big range of thermoplastics is available on today’s market with various mechanical characteristics, production speed, very accessible for novice users.

The disadvantages of fff printing are the limited accuracy and the limited capacity of printing overhangs. Parts with strong overhangs will require generation of support material.

Stereolithography (SLA):

SLA compares to FFF that it builds a model layer by layer but it differs in the way that it is accomplished. SLA uses light curing resin (photopolymer) instead of thermoplastic. This photopolymer cures by an ultraviolet (UV) laser. Basically you have a transparent container with polymer. The build plate is lowered into the reservoir. The laser cures layer by layer while the build plate gently rises out of the polymer. The part is then rinsed to remove non cured polymer.

The strong points of SLA are the higher accuracy (up to 0.025mm for the Z-axis) and the design flexibility. The weaknesses mainly are the material costs and the longer production time. You are also limited by available different types and colors of photopolymers

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