What is 3D Printing

3D printing, or additive manufacturing (AM), is one of the rapid manufacturing technologies that create tree-dimensional objects from digital 3D models.  This construction method involves with adding metallic powder, polymers, or other fusible materials together layer by layer to construct objects.  In addition to the application of prototyping found in mold manufacturing, industrial design, and other relevant fields, 3D printing has now gradually gained its role in the direct production of some product, especially in high-valued application (such as the manufacture of hip joints, tooth, and some aircraft components).  Such technology has become ubiquitous in our lives.

  1. Meeting the need of diversified and small portion manufacturing process
  2. Reducing waste of resource and materials
  3. A wide range of application
  4. High technical economic benefit
  1. Engineering plastic
  2. Photopolymer resin
  3. Rubber
  4. Metallic material
  5. Ceramic
  6. Colored Plaster
  7. Synthetic Bone Material
  8. Cell Type Materials
  9. Food materials
  1. FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling): Material is heated to a molten state then extruded on the growing work. As the material cools down and the deposition proceeds continuously layer by layer, a solid 3D object is formed.  FDM is the most common and the most economical 3D printing technology.
  2. LOM (Laminated Object Manufacturing): Material films are cut into the required shape then glued together layer by layer. Therefore, in addition to plastic, LOM can take paper as its raw material as well.  With the ability to process paper material, LOM is also called Laminated Paper.  Though this technology has a relatively fast printing speed, it generates more waste.  
  3. 3DP (Powder Bed and Inkjet Head 3D Printing): A thin layer of powder is spread across the platform, then binding material was deposited from an inkjet print head onto the powder which need to be solidified. This process is repeated with each layer to the last.  Finally, the finished product was completed by removing the unbound powder.  The working principle resembles inkjet printer, therefore this technique is also called “Powder Bed and Inkjet Head 3D Printing” or “Binder Jet 3D Printing”.
  4. DLP (Digital Light Processing): This printing technique uses the projection function of DLP to flash an image across the photopolymer resin and form the 3D object layer by layer. The finished product has a relatively high resolution; however, the hardness is low and the material it uses is expensive.  The fields of application of DLP differs from those of FDM.
  5. SLA (Stereolithography Apparatus): Using photopolymer resin as material, the printer scans the resin through a laser layer by layer then lowers the hardened part. The process was repeated and new layers are built.  One of the differences between DLP and SLA technology is that the model was gradually pulled out of the resin by DLP printer, and immersed into the resin by SLA printer.
  6. SLS (Selective Laser Sintering): SLS technology uses lasers instead of adhesives to bind materials together. As a result, substances from plastic to metallic powder can all be considered as materials for SLS.  A desired 3D object is formed by fusing the powder with high power laser.  However, this technology involves in a sintering process, which leads to variation in the grain structure and characteristic of the powder.
  7. SLM (Selective Laser Melting): The main material being used in SLM is metallic powder. This technique utilizes a higher power laser to melt and fused metallic powder.  The advantages of SLM are the abilities to produce high mechanical strength products, and to manufacture parts directly, which is suitable for aerospace application.  However, SLM printers are more expensive and have fewer material choices.