How Many Types Of 3D Printers Are There?

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Written By Alex

Alex Webster loves all things tech. He's a 44-year-old married father of two. Alex has been fascinated with technology from a young age and started his first business at 16. He also is the Chief Editor here at CanTechBeCool

To precisely meet one’s needs, one should be aware of how many types of 3D printers are there across the globe.

Stereolithography (SLA)

Selective laser sintering (SLS) and fused deposition modeling are the most common types of 3D printers for plastics parts (FDM). Formlabs offers two professional 3D printing technologies, SLA and SLS, which put these powerful and affordable industrial manufacturing tools in the hands of creative professionals all over the world.

a head 3d printed

Stereolithography (SLA)

Stereolithography, the world’s first 3D printing method, was developed in the 1980s and is still one of the most popular business technologies today. SLA 3D printers use photopolymerization to cure liquid resin into hard plastic using a laser.

Polyjet 3D printers are among the best-known and best-selling SLS resin 3D printer brands on the market. These machines combine stereolithography, which produces detailed three-dimensional objects from a laser scan or digital design file, with additive manufacturing.

Resin 3D printing is ideal for intricate prototypes with tight tolerances and smooth surfaces, such as molds, patterns, and functional elements. SLA 3D printers are widely used in a variety of industries, including engineering and product design manufacturing, dentistry, jewelry, model making, and education.

Stereolithography Is Ideal For

  1. Rapid prototyping
  2. Functional prototyping
  3. Concept modeling
  4. Short-run production
  5. Dental applications
  6. Jewelry prototyping and casting

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)

Nylon, a common engineering thermoplastic with excellent mechanical properties, is the most commonly used material in selective laser sintering. Nylon is lightweight, durable, and flexible, as well as impact, chemical, heat, UV light, water, and filth resistance.

Because of its low cost per part, high output, and pre-defined materials, SLS is a popular choice among engineers for functional prototyping and a cost-effective alternative to injection molding for limited-run or bridge manufacturing.

Selective Laser Sintering Is Ideal For

  1. Functional prototyping
  2. End-use parts
  3. Short-run, bridge, or custom manufacturing

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)

The most widely used 3D printing technology among consumers is fused deposition modeling (FDM), also known as fused filament fabrication. 3D printing on FDM 3D printers is accomplished by extruding thermoplastic filaments such as ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) and PLA (polylactic acid) through a heated nozzle, melting the material, and layering the plastic onto a build platform. Each layer is installed one at a time until the part is finished.

FDM 3D printers are ideal for basic proof-of-concept models as well as quick and low-cost prototyping of simple parts, such as parts that would normally be machined. However, when compared to SLA or SLS, FDM has the lowest resolution and accuracy and is not the best option for printing complex designs or parts with intricate features. Chemical and mechanical polishing can be used to improve finish quality. Soluble supports are used in industrial FDM 3D printers to help solve some of these issues while also offering a wider range of engineering thermoplastics.

Fused Deposition Modeling Is Ideal For:

  1. Basic proof-of-concept models
  2. Simple prototyping.

There are four major types of 3D printers available in 2019: FDM, SLA, SLS, and DLP. Each type has distinct advantages and disadvantages that make it more or less appropriate for various applications.

The most common and widely available type of 3D printer is the FDM printer. They build up layers of material by extruding melted plastic filament through a small nozzle. FDM printers are relatively inexpensive and simple to use, making them an excellent choice for beginning users and hobbyists. They are, however, slower than other types of 3D printers and have lower resolution, making them unsuitable for printing high-precision parts.

A laser is used in SLA printers to cure resin into solid layers. These printers are typically more expensive than FDM printers, but they provide significantly higher resolution and accuracy. SLA printers are frequently used to create highly detailed models and sculptures, as well as prototypes and low-volume production parts.

SLS printers use a laser to selectively sinter (i.e., melt) powder materials. These printers are typically used in industrial settings where speed and volume are more important than accuracy and detail. SLS printers are also relatively expensive, making them out of reach for hobbyists and small businesses.

DLP printers cure photosensitive resins into solid layers using an array of LEDs. DLP printers are typically faster than SLA printers and produce parts with comparable detail. DLP printers, on the other hand, are typically more expensive than both FDM and SLA printers.

3D printing technology is constantly evolving, and new types of 3D printers are constantly being developed. We may see even more specialized 3D printers in the future that are designed for specific applications or offer improved performance in terms of speed, accuracy, or resolution.

There are various types of 3D printers, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) printers, stereolithography (SLA) printers, and selective laser sintering (SLS) printers are the most common types.

Because of their low cost and ease of use, FDM printers are the most popular type of 3D printer. They do, however, have some drawbacks, such as lower accuracy and a slower printing speed.

SLA printers are more expensive than FDM printers, but they provide greater accuracy and printing speed. They do, however, necessitate the use of special resins, which can be costly, and the prints can be delicate.

SLS printers are the most expensive type of 3D printer, but they provide the best accuracy and speed. They can also print in a wide range of materials, including metals. They do, however, necessitate the use of special powders, which can be costly, and the prints can be delicate.

3D printers are available in a variety of shapes, sizes, and configurations. Personal, professional, and industrial 3D printers are the three main types.

Personal 3D printers are smaller in size and intended for use at home. They are typically less than $1,000 in price and can be used to print small objects such as toys or jewelry. Professional 3D printers are larger and more expensive, with prices ranging from $1,000 to $10,000. They are intended for commercial use and can print larger objects such as furniture or automobile parts. Industrial 3D printers are the most powerful and expensive, costing more than $10,000. They are used in manufacturing and can print extremely large objects.

Summary

There are a few other types of specialized 3D printers, such as SLA and SLS printers. SLA printers cure resin into solid objects using a laser. A laser is used in SLS printers to fuse together small particles of plastic, metal, or glass. These printers are typically used for prototyping or the creation of custom parts.

To answer how many types of 3D printers are there, 3D printing technology is constantly evolving, and new types of 3D printers are constantly being developed. It’s a fascinating field with limitless possibilities!