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3D Printing Technologies

Deciphering which 3D printing technology is best for you can be difficult. Here, we’ve compiled a handy overview of the main six industrial 3D printing technologies found on the market, including FDM, PolyJet, MultiJet, SLA, SLS, and DMLS. 

What is 3D Printing?

3D printing is a manufacturing option that allows parts to be made faster and with less waste than traditional manufacturing methods. As opposed to traditional manufacturing methods that use a subtractive manufacturing process, 3D printing uses an additive process. This works by taking a digital 3D model and slicing it into hundreds or thousands of cross-sectional layers. These layers are then recreated one-by-one on a build platform, building on top of one another until the 3D part is complete.

Due to the nature of the additive process, 3D printing can create parts within a matter of hours or days depending on the part size and geometry. As such, 3D printing is typically used for inexpensive, low-volume productions, such as is recommended for rapid prototyping and custom parts. Depending on the specific 3D printing technology, parts may be made from many materials, such as plastic, resin, metal, ceramic, glass, and more. 

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) 

Materials: In order to create parts, FDM uses thermoplastics, which are a category of polymers whose state can be changed by altering their temperature. When at room temperature, thermoplastics are solid, but when heated, they become soft and malleable. As such, they can be reformed over and over, making