Types of 3D Printers and Buying Guides for Each

Metal and plastic products can be produced in small to medium-sized quantities with 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing. A layer-by-layer process, instead of machining, which removes material from solid blocks, and injection moulding, which uses moulds to build objects, adds material. 3D printing is used in virtually every industry, and it includes a wide range of technologies and materials. The applications of 3D printing are numerous. Dental items, eyeglasses, cinematic props, prosthetics, architectural scale models and maquettes are only a few examples. Models and technologies of printers vary, each with its own set of benefits. Several systems may be suitable for you, depending on your yield and throughput.

Selecting the Best 3D Printer

Before discussing the different types of 3D printers and materials available currently, there are a few key aspects to consider when deciding which 3D printer is appropriate for your project. The first thing to consider is what the project is intended to achieve: a consumer product, a functional prototype, an industrial component, or an aesthetic model? The second thing to consider is if the project has any unique material needs, such as heat, chemical or corrosion resistance, or biocompatibility. Finally, firms should consider how many pieces they want to buy and the size of each item. These factors are likely to be the most important economic concerns for every project.

Three-dimensional printers come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Before delving into some of the most popular printers, we’ll go over the seven primary kinds of printing processes.

  • Binder Jetting Printers are a kind of printer that uses a binder to
  • Material Extrusion VAT Powder Bed Fusion Polymerization
  • Directed Energy Deposition Material Jetting Sheet Lamination

3D Printers for Plastic

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) Stereolithography Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) (SLA)

3D Printers Made of Metal

Selective Laser Melting (SLM) Electron Beam Melting Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) (EBM)

Plastic 3D Printer Buying Guide

Fusion of several jets (MJF)

This is a brand-new 3D printing technique for the industrial sector. It’s a more efficient and cost-effective method for 3D printing items. Connectors, brackets, covers, wire clips, and intricate thin-wall ducting all benefit from it. What makes MJF unique?

  • Minimum feature resolution is finer.
  • For uniform colour, black dye is required.
  • A new procedure with a shorter construction time has been developed.
  • Surface roughness has been improved.

Before purchasing, consider the following design elements:

  • A 0.02 in. fine feature resolution. Anything smaller would print, but it wouldn’t be as dense or match the material’s specifications.
  • Materials – The thermoplastic polymers (typically Nylon) utilized in MJF are granular thermoplastic polymers. The MJF pieces produced with this material are more durable, flexible, and have homogeneous mechanical properties.
  • Most MJF components are produced in a shade of black or grey due to the black fusing agent. The sections, on the other hand, maybe coloured and texturized.
  • Surface finish – Parts typically have a surface finish of 125 to 250 micro inches RA. For a smoother finish, the surfaces may be tumbled or hand-sanded.
  • Part Size – The MJF machine’s construction envelope is 16 in. x 12 in. x 16 in. The maximum part size for printing agents is 14.96 inches to ensure a buffer around components. 11.25″ in. x 14.96″ in. It might be considered.
  • Wall thickness – As with any thermoplastic, nylon materials shrink as they solidify. The heat build-up caused by thick walls can cause spot shrinkage in dense areas, resulting in geometric deflections resulting from material build-up. As a result, the walls should be 0.02 in. to 0.12 in. thick (0.5 to 3.0 mm). The thinner walls may also be incorrect and distorted owing to non-uniform in-process shrinkage. One technique to cope with the necessity for thin walls is to strengthen the component using ribs or fillets.
  • Tolerances – Typical MJF tolerances are 0.001 in./in. (0.025 mm/25.4 mm) or 0.010 in. (0.25 mm).

Modelling of Fused Deposition (FDM)

This is the second most used layered printing process in the business world. Without the need for any tooling, moulds, or dies, the finished goods may be manufactured immediately. Its popularity is attributed to its rapid cycle time, excellent dimensional precision, convenience of usage, and simple interaction with various computer-aided design (CAD) tools. This kind of additive manufacturing is frequently used in prototype, modelling, and batch production. The most significant benefit of FDM 3D printing is its scalability and material versatility.

The most popular printing material, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), manufactures various consumer items, from LEGO bricks to whitewater canoes. Along with ABS, a handful of the other FDM machines can print in other thermoplastics such as polycarbonate (PC) or polyetherimide (PEI). 

Filament roll size – Most FDM printers can utilize standard filament rolls, which come in two sizes (diameter: 1.75 or 2.85mm). A small percentage of printers uses filament boxes and proprietary filaments. These, on the other hand, are frequently more costly than normal rolls and provide greater quality.

  • Build Size – A desktop 3D printer’s build size is typically 200 X 200 X 200mm; however industrial machines’ build size may be as large as 1000 x 1000 x 1000 mm.
  • Layer Height – The layer height in FDM ranges between 50 and 400 microns and is decided when an order is placed. Smaller layer heights generate smoother components and better capture curved geometries, but bigger layer heights make parts quicker and at a lower cost. A layer height of 200 microns is often utilized.
  • Layer Adhesion – For an FDM component, high adhesion between the deposited layers is critical. When extruded via the nozzle, the molten thermoplastic is forced against the preceding layer. The preceding layer’s surface is re-melted by the high temperature and pressure, allowing the new layer to adhere to the previously printed portion.
  • One of the most typical FDM flaws is warping. This may be avoided by keeping a closer eye on the FDM system’s temperature and boosting the adhesion between the component and the build platform.

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) is a method of sintering (SLS)

It’s an additive manufacturing method that uses powder and lasers. Complex pieces may be made from various materials, including polymer, ceramic, metal, and composite. SLS is employed in various applications, including automotive, tooling, aerospace, architectural, and biomedical.

The most frequent material for SLS is Nylon, a popular technical thermoplastic recognized for its strength, lightweight, and flexibility. Nylon is great for quick prototyping and manufacturing since it is resistant to chemicals, UV radiation, impact, water, and dirt. SLS is widely used in two versions: Nylon 11 and 12 or PA 11 and PA 12.

  • The thickness of the layers – A SLS printer’s minimum layer thickness is 0.040 in.
  • Thinnest wall thickness – The thickness of a successful 3D print ranges from 0.7 mm (for PA12) to 2.0 mm (for carbon-filled polyamide).
  • Hole Diameter – All holes should have a diameter of at least 1.5 mm.
  • To reduce weight and costs, SLS components are produced hollow. These escape holes must have a minimum diameter of 3.5 mm and must evacuate unsintered powder after manufacture.
  • Feature Size – A minimum feature size of 0.8 mm is suggested in most cases.
  • Embossed and engraved details – To guarantee that minute details are visible, a minimum depth of engraving of 1 mm and a minimum embossing height of 1 mm are required.

Stereolithography is a kind of lithography that uses (SLA)

In the field of additive manufacturing, this is one of the most popular and widely used processes. To create a 3D form, liquid resin is hardened using a high-powered laser in a reservoir. The resin 3D printing category includes SLA.

  • Layer Height – In SLA, layer heights typically vary from 25 to 100 microns. Curved geometries are represented more accurately with lower layer heights. However, increasing the construction time and cost and the profitability of a bad print is a good idea. A layer height of 100 microns is sufficient for the majority of typical applications.
  • The kind of SLA machine determines the build size.
  • In SLA, a support structure is always necessary. They’re printed in the same material as the component and have to be manually removed afterwards.
  • Curling is one of the most serious issues with SLA-produced components in terms of precision. In FDM, it’s comparable to warping.
  • Layer Adhesion – Because a single UV laser pass is inadequate to cure the liquid resin properly, the SLA printed objects exhibit isotropic mechanical characteristics. Later, the laser passes to aid in fusing previously cemented layers to a very high degree.

Metal 3D Printer Buying Guide

Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) is a method of sintering (DMLS)

An additive manufacturing technique that uses 3D CAD data to create high-quality complicated metal objects. Direct Metal Printing is another name for it (DMP).

  • Maximum build size – A DMLS printer’s maximum build size is 250 mm x 325 mm x 250 mm (~9.84″ in x 12.80″ in x 9.84″ in).
  • Tolerances – For DMLS, tolerances of +/-.005″ per inch plus.002″ per inch are optimal. Tolerance expectations, on the other hand, might change depending on the material (e.g. stainless versus aluminium)
  • Support structures – Support structures are required for the DMLS components to reduce or eliminate warping, attach the part to the build plate, and support overhanging geometry. Horizontal holes larger than 10mm in diameter need support structures.
  • Wall thickness – For most materials, a minimum wall thickness of 0.4mm is required for a successful 3D print. Finer structures are feasible, although they are reliant on the orientation, material, and printer settings.
  • Pin diameter – The smallest pin diameter that is reliable is 1mm. Smaller diameters are also conceivable; however, the contour sharpness will be compromised.
  • Hole size – Holes with a diameter of 0.5mm to 6mm may be safely produced without the need for supports.

Laser Melting with a Focus (SLM)

SLM is a 3D printing, fast prototyping, or additive manufacturing technology known as Direct Metal Laser Melting (DMLM) or laser powder bed fusion. It’s designed to melt and fuse metallic particles using a high-power-density laser. The most typical use for this technology is in the aerospace sector. Because additive manufacturing can create complex pieces, it overcomes the limits of traditional production. Aside from that, SLM is employed in medical applications, where certain prostheses are made using this technique.

  • Standard Lead Time – Depending on the number of components, part size, and finishing degrees, a minimum of 4 working days is required, and a minimum of 2 working days is required for parts with dimensions less than 200 x 100 x 100 mm.
  • 0.3 percent (with a lower limit of 0.3 mm) is the standard accuracy.
  • 0.12 mm layer thickness
  • The minimum wall thickness is 1 mm; however, live hinges may be used with a thickness of 0.3 mm.
  • Maximum Build Dimensions – The dimensions are almost limitless because the components may comprise several sub-parts. Any of the larger machines have a construction area of 650 x 330 x 560 mm.
  • Surface Structure – Unfinished pieces normally have a gritty appearance, although exquisite treatments are available. Sandblasted, coloured/impregnated, painted, covered, and coated laser-sintered components are also options.
  • The most common materials used in SLM are PP, PA-GF, Polypropylene (PP), and PA 2241FR are the most common materials used in SLM.

Melting Using an Electron Beam (EBM)

It’s a sort of metal additive manufacturing or 3D printing. Additive manufacturing using electron beams is also known as electron beam additive manufacturing. An electron beam is used to connect the raw materials after they have been heated in a vacuum. Lasers are not used in this process.

  • 350 x 350 x 380mm3 Maximum Build Envelope
  • Normal Surface Finish: 20.3-25.4 microns RA is the typical surface finish. (However, post-processing may make it better.)
  • 0.1mm is the minimum feature size.
  • Tolerance Typical – +/- 0.2 mm
  • 0.05 mm is the minimum layer thickness.
  • Density may reach 99.9%.

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