3D printing is often called additive manufacturing in the industrial realm. In both cases, the names clue to the differentiator of this manufacturing technology – growing the product versus cutting or forming. 3D printing is a suite of production processes that use a smaller material, such as a filament, powder, or liquid resin, to successively fuse layers building the final part.
Innovations are constantly occurring in the industry; not only are each of these categories seeing advancements but in some cases, technologies are combined for new ways of growing 3D parts. 3D printing requires 3D CAD design and is a powerful solution for product development.
This blog will explore the most common examples from major process categories in additive manufacturing. It will also highlight the strengths of each process to help you decide which may work best for your projects. The processes reviewed are:
Material Extrusion (FDM/FFF)
This 3D-printing method utilizes extruded melted materials through a computer-controlled nozzle. Plastic filament processes are most notable for material extrusion. This material is fused to a flat substrate, such as a build platform, and successively deposited to build a shape. Material extrusion usually requires sacrificial support structures for any overhanging features above the build plate.
Fused Deposition Modeling
Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) is also known as Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) in its desktop counterparts. The FDM process uses a reel of thermoplastic-based material. The filament material is unspooled and fed into a heated extruder where a nozzle deposits it.
FDM is user-friendly because it does not need a sealed build chamber or complex thermal properties. The raw material is easy to handle and store, but because the material instantly hardens after being deposited, the FDM process requires a support structure for overhanging features.