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The Different 3D Printing Technologies


While all 3D printing is based on the same principle of building objects layer by layer, there are several different types of 3D printing technologies. Some of the most common technologies are:


Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) ®: Plastic is extruded through a heated nozzle and builds the part layer by layer until the part is complete.


Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) ®: A layer of metal powder is deposited on a print bed and exposed to a laser. The laser fuses the powder into a solid, and then another layer of powder is deposited and exposed to the laser.


Electron Beam Melting (EBM) ®: Metal powder is extruded through a nozzle in layers. Each layer is melted by an electronic beam in the vacuum chamber. Another layer of powder is extruded and melted by the electronic beam until the object is complete.


Inkjet Head ®: Also known as Binder Jetting, the object is printed by sticking together successive layers of a powder, sand, or metal material. A glue or binder is jetted from an inkjet style print head to bind the layers together. A fresh layer of powder is spread across the top of the model and the process is repeated until the object is fully printed.


Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM) ®: Layers of paper, plastic, or metal laminates are coated in adhesive, glued together, and then a knife or laser cuts the part.


Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) ®: The printer prints a layer of powder which is fused together by the laser. The process is repeated until the part is complete.


Stereolithography (SLA) ®: A vat of liquid resin is exposed to an ultraviolet laser, which traces a layer of the 3D model image onto the resin. The exposure to light causes a layer of the resin to harden. The build platform rises and the resin is again exposed to the laser. This process repeats until the part is complete.


PolyJet ®: Similar to SLA and Inkjet Head printing, a layer of liquid polymers is deposited through inkjet head printers which is then cured by ultraviolet light.

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