3D printing refers to the additive process of making three-dimensional, solid objects from digital files. The process is capable of creating even complex components with less material than traditional manufacturing procedures, with applications in prototyping and creating everything from consumer goods to medical and aerospace parts.
There are different types of 3D printing that vary according to the material selection, durability, and surface finish. To select the right 3D printing process for your project, it is important to have a thorough understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of each method. Paradigm Manufacturing has extensive knowledge of these processes and can create items uniquely suited to diverse applications as a result.
Resin 3D Printing
In the past, China’s resins for 3D printing were superior in price and print quality, dominating the world market. For domestic consumers, resin printing was long considered to be too expensive a process. However, due to technological advancements in optoelectronics and easier-to-obtain, quality U.S. and European resins now available at comparable prices, resin printing has recently become a more viable option for both residential and industrial use as a high-quality, lower-cost 3D printing method.
Storing liquid resin within a container instead of using nozzle injection, resin 3D printing is a technique capable of generating components that are highly detailed or geometrically complex from a broad spectrum of base materials. Resin-printed parts will have smooth surfaces coupled with other superior mechanical and physical properties, enabling easy post-processing operations like coloring, grinding, and more. There are multiple types of 3D resin printing, including:
- Digital Light Processing(DLP): This method further speeds printing types because it uses a projector to expose each printed layer to light only once, curing it in a single step.
- High-Area Rapid Printing (HARP): HARP facilitates the rapid printing of large-scale items by converting liquid elastic into solid objects. This efficient method is capable of producing human-sized prints in a matter of hours.
- Digital Light Synthesis (DLS): This method uses a digital light projector to project a continuous series of UV images through a transparent, oxygen-permeable window below a pool of liquid resin. The cured part is drawn out of the resin bath.
- Stereolithography (SLA): SLA uses photochemical processes to create a component in a layer-over-layer method. When the resin is exposed to the printer’s light, it creates polymers due to the cross-linking of oligomers and monomers, ultimately forming the 3D part.
Resins have several advantageous qualities and come in a wide variety of types, making it easy to find the right resin for your application. Since resin is a light-reactive substance, its exposure to a particular light wavelength causes small molecular chains to join the oligomers and monomers to create a rigid or solidified flexible geometry.
Compared to fused deposition modeling (FDM), which utilizes elastic filament, resin 3D printing offers a higher degree of precision and durability. That said, to achieve such results, you must handle the liquid-form raw materials carefully and have a strong knowledge base of the process before you begin to avoid mistakes. Once mastered, you can quickly and efficiently produce smooth, highly accurate resin 3D components.
Other benefits include:
- Hundreds of materials
- Faster printing
- High resolution
- Sturdy products
- Dental/medical-grade resins
- Elastomer/rigids/high-temperature/general-use resins
3D Printing with an Extruder
Extruders are common in 3D printing. They are the components of 3D printers that eject semi-liquid or liquid materials and deposit them in successive layers according to the printer’s volume. Extruders are found in different 3D printing techniques such as fused deposition modeling or fused filament fabrication printers.
Some types require two or more print heads to accommodate different colors and support overhanging areas of a complicated 3D print. Others, using silk rainbow polylactic acid (PLA) filaments in a diameter of 1.75mm as an example, will randomly deliver reds, oranges, yellows, greens, blues, purples, and pinks for multicolored printing from a 15m, 1kg single roll. Such spools are compatible with 1.75mm FDM 3D printers with high-quality results.
The print color is based on the number and size of what you’re printing, as well as the infill. Silk rainbow PLA filaments hold tight tolerances, with a dimensional accuracy of 0.02 mm, give or take. These bubble- and clog-free filaments are simple to use with a bed temperature of 70° C and an extrusion temperature of 220° to 230° C. They finish their drying process in 24 hours, making printed items package-ready in a day.
Powder-Based 3D Printing
This type of printing uses powder as its primary printing material. It uses binder jetting or powder-bed fusion methods. Powder-bed fusion either sinters or melts the powder with a laser to the desired object, while a recoating blade adds more powder for every new layer.
Binder jetting relies on print heads to deposit a liquid bonding agent to a powder print bed. This liquid bonding agent bonds to form the desired object. Manufacturers then add a fresh powder coat and repeat the process in every layer.
One of the most significant advantages of powder printing is that it’s typically stronger than the extruder printing method since it uses higher-quality materials. Powder-based 3D printing is capable of producing more complex prints and it can be done using a wider variety of materials, including unconventional materials such as silica or metal. For optimal part functionality, however, whatever material you use must fuse properly and smoothly with no jagged edges.
To successfully produce quality products without sacrificing production speed or part functionality, HP created their proprietary multi-agent Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) printing technology. It uses agents to carefully control processes of a volumetric pixel, or voxel, which is a regular grid value within 3D space. This allows powder-base 3D printers to generate parts in the thousands in the same time it takes printers with extruders to create 1,000 components, as well as parts that other printing methods can’t achieve. Such innovations continue to push the limits of 3D printing’s potential. For example, this may one day lead to HP equipment being capable of printing a new color for every voxel to offer a wide spectrum of color on one part.
Laser 3D Printing
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) and Selective Laser Melting (SLM), are 3D printing processes that depend on melting successive powder layers to form an object using elastic or metals.
For polymers, the SLS machine preheats most powder material in the bed below its melting point. This allows the laser to raise the temperature of the material to its melting point as the roller applies the polymer powder layer. With this process, you don’t need supporting materials such as those used in stereolithography, fused filament fabrication, and fused deposition modeling.
3D Printing With Paradigm Manufacturing
At Paradigm Manufacturing, we guarantee premier 3D printing of forms and structures across industries. Whether you’re building components for aerospace, automotive, healthcare, defense, entertainment, or education, we are the best-suited company to manufacture your 3D parts. Contact us or request a quote today and let us help you create a 3D object that meets your needs.