Hey Everyone, 3D printing has become a hobby of mine and I’ve been tinkering with the hardware, firmware, settings, and whatnot. 3D Printing encompasses a wide array of technologies that are similar in some ways, but still, work in different ways. Here are the Printer types commonly found, FDMDLP SLA Let’s check them out one by one.
FDM Or Fused Deposition:
FDM or Fused Deposition Modelling is the most common 3d Printing technology you will find. The Ender 3 3D printer I have reviewed earlier is an example of an FDM printer and is quite light on the pocket as far as 3D printers. Most home DIY hobby printing enthusiasts will at the very least have an FDM printer. The sheer number of budget FDM printers available is immeasurable.
These 3D printers use a simple technique of fused filament deposition, which is supplied by a spool or roll of filament. This filament is drawn through to a hotel which heats up the material, which could be between 190-250 degrees as per the material we’re printing with. This heated filament is pushed through a thin extruded nozzle to print objects layer by layer.
A motor moves the extruder to the required location in the X and Z axis. Once cooled they solidify and keep their shape. It’s like squeezing toothpaste off the tube, or more like a hot glue gun, where the glue solidifies after some time.
Filaments are available in a variety of materials, such as PLA, PET-G, and ABS, and also available are some specially mixed plastics that include wood, metal, and carbon fiber. There are more materials available such as wood, carbon fiber, etc too. ABS is not recommended to be used in a closed room as it releases toxic fumes and an exclosure is recommended if printing with ABS.
PLA filaments are biodegradable. FDM also supports multi extruders, which allow for models to have multiple colors. FDM is ever advancing with newer tweaks and technologies becoming available and also the Printers becoming more cost-effective, makes it a cool addition to your home DIY lab.
DLP Or Digital Light Processing:
DLP or Digital Light Processing is a 3D printing technique where we have a small vat or reservoir of liquid that solidifies when exposed to UV light. The UV light projection is modified to print the model layer by layer, while the model is slowly pulled out, and the next layer is then exposed to the UV light.
Slowly the model comes to shape and one layer is created at a time, unlike FDM where the extruder has to move between printed objects deposit more filament. This technique is also called Photo-Polymerization. These models have very high detail and are also used to print high-quality miniatures.
One drawback is that this method does not allow for the usage of multiple materials so you will get a model with one color only.FDM allows for dual and more extruder setups which allow for multicolor prints.
Also, another important factor against DLPprinting is that the materials used are hard to work with and also can be toxic. Also, these 3D printers are a bit more expensive(even though prices have come down) and the availability and price of the materials are on the higher side.
The prints are dipped into ISOPropyl alcohol to clean it and either set it out in the sun to Cure or get yourself a UV lamp. DLP printing is quite fast and accurate. SLA or Stereolithography Apparatus is one of the oldest and widely used additive 3D printing technologies.
Quite similar to DLP in process, where both methods cure a resin which is photosensitive and is solidified photochemically, but the main difference is that DLP uses a UV light and SLA uses a UV laser. DLP is faster than SLA as it can create entire layers in one projection. SLA on the other hand needs a Laser to trace the details of each layer making it have to be moved around using a mirror.
The SLA printer has a tank filled with a liquid polymer which is generally clear. A perforated platform is lowered into the tank and can move up and down as required by the printing process. When a laser is fired at the liquid resin solidifies, the laser is guided into position by the computer using a mirror.
SLA printers mostly print upside-down. As one layer solidifies, it is raised and resin is allowed to flow into the plate flowing below it, and the next cross-section is solidified, and this process continues until the model is completely printed. The resin not touched by the Laser remains in liquid form and can be reused.
The finished print needs to be removed and placed in a UV oven to cure it, making it more strong and less malleable. SLA in the most precise 3d Printing technique and can create extremely high-quality details. But using a laser to print the cross-sections takes a long time.
The resin prints are also fragile, and not suitable as functional prototypes. If you need high-precision prints with a smooth finish SLA is the best, but the costs of the required materials and also printers make it out of reach for many. DLP brings some of SLA’s precision, but has similar material handling problems as the resins can be toxic.
Best Cost-Effective Way To Print:
FDM is the best cost-effective way to print if you want to try making models or prototype your designs on the cheap and with moderate precision at home. Dimensional accuracy and resolution are low as compared to other technologies, but these printers have entered the sub $200 range or in other words, cost around Rs 15,000, and raw materials cost between Rs 700-2000 for1KG roll of PLA
More 3D Printing Technologies:
There are more 3D printing technologies available, but the ones I’ve listed are the most common of the lot. Also do note that 3D printers don’t always work out of the box, and need a little tinkering to get right. So unless you like to tinker, 3D printing may not be something you would want to get into. But if you do want to give it a try, there nothing stopping you.