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3D Printing Types You Need to Know in 2021

3D printing is a kind of rapid prototyping technology. It is a technology that uses powdered metal or plastic and other bondable materials to construct objects by printing layer by layer based on digital model files. 3D printing is usually achieved by using digital technology material printers. It is often used to make models in mold manufacturing, industrial design, and other fields, and then gradually used in the direct manufacturing of some products. There are already parts printed using this technology. The technology has applications in jewelry, footwear, industrial design, architecture, engineering and construction (AEC), automotive, aerospace, dental and medical industries, education, geographic information systems, civil engineering, guns, and other fields.

3D printing is the opposite of subtractive manufacturing which is cutting out / hollowing out a piece of metal or plastic with for instance a milling machine. 3D printing enables you to produce complex shapes using less material than traditional manufacturing methods. Now there was many types of 3D printing technology in the world- fused deposition modeling (FDM), stereolithgraphy (SLA), digital light processing (DLP), selective laser sintering (SLS), material jetting (MJ), drop on demand (DOD), SAND BINDER JETTING, METAL BINDER JETTING, DIRECT METAL LASER SINTERING (DMLS) AND SELECTIVE LASER MELTING (SLM), DIRECT METAL LASER SINTERING (DMLS) AND SELECTIVE LASER MELTING (SLM). But the most common 3d printing types are SLS and SLA. Let us introduce to you the whole 3D printing methods of SLS and SLA as following:

1. Modeling Software Design and Generation of Digital Models

Modeling software design and generation of digital models is the first step in the 3D printing process. The most common way to generate a digital model is to use computer-aided design software (CAD). There are a large number of free and professional CAD programs compatible with 3D printing. Reverse engineering can also be used to generate digital models through 3D scanning. When designing 3D printing, several design considerations must be considered. These usually focus on the feature geometric shape restrictions and support or escape hole requirements, and will continue to change with different technologies.

2. STL File Conversion and Operation

STL file conversion and operation are different from traditional manufacturing methods. The key stage in the 3D printing process is to convert digital model files into STL (stereolithography) files. STL uses triangles (polygons) to describe the three-dimensional parameter information of an object. Before converting a model to an STL file, several model limitations should be considered, including physical size, water tightness, and a number of polygons. Once the STL file is generated, it will be imported into the slicing software for processing. This program converts STL files into Gcode codes. Gcode code is numerical control (NC) programming language. It is used in computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) to control automated machine tools (including CNC machine tools and 3D printers). The slicer program also allows designers to customize the construction parameters, including support, layer height, and part orientation.

3. Correct Maintenance and Calibration

The finished 3D printed model without post-processing in the 3D printing process. The 3D printer usually consists of many small and complex parts, so correct maintenance and calibration are essential to produce accurate prints. At this stage, printing materials are also loaded into the 3D printer. The raw materials used in 3D printing usually have a shelf life and need to be handled carefully. Although some processes provide the ability to recycle excess 3D printing materials, if they are not regularly replaced, repeated use will cause material performance degradation (such as damp-induced wire drawing). Once printing starts, there is no need to monitor the operation of the 3D printer. 3D printers will follow an automated process, and usually only give an alarm when the machine runs out of materials or there is an error in the software.

4. Remove the 3D Printing Support

Use clamps to remove the support from the SLA 3D printing model. For some 3D printing technologies, removing the 3D printing model support is as simple as taking the printed model directly from the printing platform. For other more industrialized 3D printing methods, removing support is a specific workflow that involves precisely extracting printed model objects while still encapsulating them in construction materials or attaching them to a 3D printing platform. These methods require complex disassembly procedures, skilled machine operators, safety equipment and a controlled environment.

5. Post-processing of 3D printing

The post-processing procedure again differs depending on the 3D printer technology. SLA 3D printing technology requires curing under ultraviolet light before the model is processed. Metal parts usually need to be relieved of stress in an oven, while parts made by FDM technology can be directly processed manually. Most 3D printed models can be polished and other post-processing techniques (including high-pressure air cleaning, polishing, and coloring) are used to prepare the final 3D printed model.

Additive manufacturing or 3D printing is the future of manufacturing and is opening up a world of 3D prototyping and low-volume rapid manufacturing possibilities. Rapid prototyping via SLA (Stereolithography) and SLS (Selective Laser Sintering)paired with our extensive experience enable us to deliver high precision, high-quality parts every time. There are various parameters there can decide which choice is right for your part. It is always good to have an idea about what is the use case for this part:

•SLS components have good isotropic mechanical properties, making them ideal for functional components and prototypes.

• SLS does not require support, so it is easy to make designs with complex geometric shapes.

• The manufacturing capacity of SLS is excellent for small to medium batch production.

•SLA can produce parts with very high dimensional accuracy and with intricate details.

•SLA parts have a very smooth surface finish, making them ideal for visual prototypes.

•Speciality SLA materials are available, such as clear, flexible, and castable resins.

If you interest in it, or if you have any ideas for product design, please feel free to contact us ( We will be very pleased to assist with any of your requirements, and welcome to visit our facility in Shenzhen at any time. Alternatively, our project managers and technical staff are available for online or face-to-face meetings if required.

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