3D printing can mean a world of difference in the way we produce, sell, and purchase products over the internet. The proper use of 3D printing can help everyone waste significantly less time when attempting to purchase a product. Instead of purchasing an item and hoping it looks the same in person as it does online, and then having to wait for it to be shipped, 3D printing allows you to print your item right in front of your eyes.
3D printing is carried out in a number of different ways and below we will briefly explain to you the different types of technology used in 3D printing.
Selective Laser Sintering
Selective laser sintering, or SLS, is the process by which 3D printing is carried out through use of lasers. These lasers then form and combine plastic, metal, ceramic, or glass powder into the 3D product which you desire. All the materials are made of a powder and the laser is able to scan cross-sections and then lay layers of the powder to build up the product with ease. The laser scanning and layering process is carried out over and over again until your product is completed.
Direct Metal Laser Sintering
DMLS is carried out by first making a model of the product you are looking to create on the computer. The 3D computerized model is created with the real-life dimensions of the metal product that you are trying to create. Once the model is completed it is then cut into cross-sections and that information is sent to the 3D printer and production can begin.
DMLS uses a very high powered laser that can melt a metal’s powder and take the melted metal and begin to build your product right in front of your eyes. This process is generally known as 3D printing because the printer layers the metal on top of each other over and over again. Each layer is very thin and sometimes it can take hundreds of layers before the product is completed.
DMLS is so beneficial because it saves both producers and consumers so much money and time. It also allows companies to have increased test runs on products because they can create a model on the computer and then immediately print it out in a matter of minimal time. No longer do companies have to rely on clay or plastic models, rather DMLS allows them to create a model that will be made precisely like the end product itself. Currently, DMLS is used to create items and prototypes for things involving aerospace and other medical products. 3D printing is able to make even the most complex items right in front of your eyes which means that the production of every day products could already be a very feasible endeavor.
Fused Deposition Modeling
FDM is able to take a plastic piece or a metal wire and melt it to a point where the 3D printer is able to lay the product out one layer at a time. The printing nozzle is able to be turned on and off even in the midst of printing the product.
Just like most other 3D printing technologies, the product you wish to create is first drafted up on the computer and then digitally cut into many different cross-sections. The printer is then able to read and analyze these cross-sections and begin producing the item. The product is built layer by layer, each of which are very thin. The nozzle of the printer is able to move in almost any direction as to allow the product the ability to have rounded edges and not be a very concise squared object. FDM is used in making prototypes for products as well as the actual creation of other items.
The length of time it takes to create an object using FDM depends on the composition of the item itself. The longer it takes to heat the material to its melting point, the longer the production process will be. In the end though it saves companies time and money by completely axing the shipping process. In the past many companies that now used 3D printing technologies would have to draft up the image on their computer and then ship the model to a third-party company and wait for them to produce it and send the finished product back. You will quickly realize how much time is saved by the use of FDM.
Stereolithography, better known as SLA, is currently helping companies by producing products, models, and prototypes. SLA works by having a 3D printer make layer after layer of a product until it is built from the ground up. This form of 3D printing was first created all the way back in 1986 and is one of the longest standing types of additive manufacturing.
Using ultraviolet light, the printer is able to create many thin layers until your product or model is built right in front of your eyes. The finished product that will be a solid 3D item actually begins as being a liquid and then the ultraviolet light will control the liquid’s temperature as it builds the layers.
SLA is so beneficial because it saves time, much like all other forms of 3D printing. Companies can produce parts in just one day and can have them ready to be used in that same day. The one disadvantage is that 3D printers that carry out the SLA process can cost a lot of money and that alone can make 3D printing nothing but a fantasy.
Laminated Object Manufacturing
LOM is a way for companies to create product prototypes in a much shorter time than they ever have been able to in the past. This 3D printing technology can produce metal, paper, or plastic products that are essentially glued together and cut by the 3D printer into the exact size and shape of your specifications. Typically, the item is cut and sized by use of a special laser.