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09.02 3D Printing

3D Printing is an additive-processes of fabrication .

Types of 3D Printers

FDM Printers

Fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3D printers, also known as fused filament fabrication (FFF) printers, are a common type of 3D printer. They work by extruding a thermoplastic filament through a heated nozzle, melting the material and depositing it in 2D layers on the build platform. Each layer is laid down one at a time until the part is complete.

FDM printers are relatively affordable and easy to use, making them a good choice for hobbyists, makers, and artists. They are also capable of printing a wide range of materials, including ABS, PLA, PETG, and TPU.

Dual Print Head Printers

Dual head 3D printers, also known as dual extruder 3D printers, have two hot ends and extruders. This allows them to print with two different materials at the same time. Dual head 3D printers are more expensive than single head 3D printers, but they offer a number of advantages for users who need to print objects with multiple colors or materials, or who need to print objects with complex geometries.

Dual head 3D printers can print objects with multiple colors or materials, which can be used to create more complex and realistic designs.

Objects with complex geometries that would be impossible or difficult to print with a single head FDM 3D printer can be printed with a dual head 3D printer. Using a support material that can be dissolved away after printing, objects with overhangs or undercuts can more easily be printed.

Resin Printers

Resin 3D printers use a liquid resin that is cured by a UV light source to create solid objects. This process, known as stereolithography (SLA) or masked stereolithography (MSLA), is capable of producing very high-resolution models with fine details.

Resin 3D printers work by projecting a UV light image onto a vat of liquid resin. The light cures the resin in the shape of the projected image, one layer at a time. Once the print is complete, it must be removed from the vat and post-processed. This involves washing the print in alcohol to remove any uncured resin, and then curing it further under a UV lamp.

Resin 3D printers are more expensive than filament 3D printers, but they offer a number of advantages. Resin prints are typically much more detailed and have a smoother surface finish. Resin is also available in a wide variety of colors and properties, including materials that are flexible, durable, or even translucent.

Laser Sintering Printers

Laser sintering (SLS) 3D printers use a high-powered laser to fuse small particles of polymer powder into a solid structure based on a 3D model. SLS 3D printing can produce strong, durable, and complex parts with fine resolution.

SLS 3D printers work by first spreading a thin layer of polymer powder across a build platform. The laser then traces the cross-section of the 3D model onto the powder bed, sintering the powder particles together. Once the first layer is complete, the build platform lowers and another layer of powder is spread on top. The laser then traces the cross-section of the next layer, sintering the powder particles together and bonding them to the previous layer.

After the printing process is complete, the loose powder is removed from the build chamber and the part is cleaned and finished.

Creating Models for 3D Printing

3D modeling software is used to create the digital design or model that will be translated into G-code for printing on a 3D printer. Depending on the type of 3D printer specific 3D print design guidelines should be followed.

Making STL Files

Gluing 3D Prints

ABS plastic has more glueing options than the PLA plastic. For PLA plastic all solutions have a compromise. The best of those compromises is general purpose cyanoacrylate adhesive, also known as superglue. It will break if overstressed but it is easily obtained, cheap and does a pretty good job.

Plastic solvent glues used for acrylic and ABS may work but are less available, more expensive and hazardous to your health. These glues need to be used in a proper ventilated area such as outdoors or a spray booth.

Further Reading