3D printing is a manufacturing technique used in various industries because of its precision and cost-effectiveness. Contrary to popular belief, 3D printing is not a new technology. It was first introduced in the 1980s and has since been perfected, and its applications have increased tremendously. Various 3D printing equipment has also been developed, including several types of 3D printing machines.
Types of 3D printing machines
There are seven types of 3D printing machines. They are:
1. FDM printers
Known in full as Fused Deposition Modeling, this is the most popular 3D printing machine. This is because it is affordable and can produce intricate products. FDM printers were initially developed in the 1980s. Their popularity has only increased since then. The element that sets these types of printers apart from the rest is that they use production-grade thermoplastics. This element results in excellent mechanical, chemical, and thermal attributes in the parts manufactured. FDM printers work by extruding materials layer by layer. The material is heated before its extruded.
2. SLA printers
Also known as Stereolithography 3D printing machines, these are the oldest forms of 3D printers on the market. Regardless, they are still in use up to date. Unlike other printing machines, SLA printers operate with an excess of liquid plastic. The plastic is later hardened to form a solid object. Parts made using these machines usually have smooth surfaces and impeccable quality.
3. DLP printers
Digital Light Processing Printers were established in the late 1980s. They use digital micromirrors as semiconductor chips. Like SLA 3D printers, DLP printers use photopolymers. However, the difference is that DLP printers require an additional source of light, like an arc lamp. They also have a liquid crystal display panel laid on their entire surface during the printing process.
4. SLS printers
Selective laser sintering 3D printers use a laser power supply for the printing process. The powered materials work as alternatives for liquid resin in a cube. SLS printers also stand out because they do not have to use other support structures. Instead, the printed objects are usually surrounded by unsintered powder. SLS printers also require high-powered lasers. This makes them more costly and their products quite expensive.
5. SLM printers
Selective laser Melting 3D printers are not as old as the rest. They were established in the mid-1990s. These printers use high-powered laser beams which melt and fuse various metallic powdered. This results in the formation of perfect and intricate 3D objects.
6. EBM printers
Electron Beam Melting 3D printers use the powder bed fusion technique. They also use a powerful electron beam in a vacuum. These machines can achieve complex geometries and offer freedom of design. They also produce incredibly dense and strong 3D parts. EBM printers do not need extra auxiliary equipment for the printing procedure.
7. LOM printers
Laminated Object Manufacturing 3D printers are a rapid prototyping system. They work by either fusing or laminating layers of plastic and paper. This is done by combining heat and pressure. They also use computer-controlled blades or lasers to cut the objects to the desired shape.
The types of printers listed above are categorized based on their technology. While the technologies listed above vary, they are all quite similar. They all fall under 3D printing, and a small element separates the way they work.