3D printing and additive manufacturing is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file by use of various methods.
3D printing specifically refers to the creation of protoypes in a rapid form completely autonomously with minimal human intervention
Additive manufaturing is the umbrella under which 3D printing falls under as well as other forms of the manufaturing process
Types of 3D Printing (Additive Manufacturing)
- FDM Fused Deposinonal Modelling
- FFF Fused Filament Fabrication
- SLA Stereolithography
- SLS Selective laser sintering
- MJF Multi Jet Fusion
How to buy your first 3D printer
Buying a printer can be stressful so to help we have explained what questions you will need to ask yourself as well as the the two most affordable methods of 3D printing
- What model should you choose?
- How big are the objects that are going to be printed?
- The material choices to make?
- How much should you spend?
- Where’s the best place to buy a 3D printer?
FDM 3D printer
Currently, there are 10 3D printing technologies. Since you don‘t want to spend an arm and leg there are just two types of budget consumer 3D printing technologies which are relevant. They are called FDM 3D printers and resin 3D printers.
FDM is the most common 3D printing method used in desktop 3D printing. A thermoplastic filament is heated and extruded through an extrusion head that deposits the molten plastic in X and Y coordinates, while the build table lowers the object layer by layer in the Z direction.
Method of FDM and how objects are created by use of a plastic or plastic and other material compound to be extruded out of a hot end i.e. what happens in a glue gun
This type of 3D printers is a cost-effective means for product development and rapid prototyping in small business and education sectors since it’s capable of fabricating robust parts reliably and quickly. They use a variety of interesting materials.
There is variety of materials that we can 3D print in.FDM printers can print in 1,2,3,……….. to infinity amounts different colours and material compounds with the right software but the most common in stock components from the factory is single extrusion or dual extrusion
SLA / Resin 3D printers
Resin 3D printers use stereo lithography technology, short SLA. It works by exposing a layer of photosensitive liquid resin to a UV-laser beam so that the resin hardens and becomes solid. Once the laser has swept a layer of resin in the desired pattern and it begins to harden, the model-building platform in the liquid tank of the printer steps down the thickness of a single layer, and the laser begins to form the next layer. Each layer is built on top of the preceding one.
Like the FDM technology, objects with overhangs will require support structures. And after printing has completed, the object must be rinsed with a solvent. Sometimes it’s also baked in a UV oven to finish processing.
SLA creates smooth surfaced objects with extreme detail, and it’s increasingly popular in industries like jewellery and cosmetic dentistry for creating molds.
In general, resin 3D printers are harder to handle in comparison to the FDM 3D printers
Resin printer do require the user to wear constant PPE when operating the printer.
That’s why C4K would recommend that you don’t buy a resin 3D printer buy an FDM 3D printer (See here)and use software like CURA slicer or Slic3r to smooth the object in the slicing stage or in the CAD program you are using. If this fails, we recommend a good, old fashoned meduim to fine grit sandpaper to smooth😀
C4K has used the Ender and the Anet brands of printers and can recommend them as good starter ones to buy. You can check out the models we used here
3D printing software
For a 3D printer to work there are 3 things which are needed