A Business Owner's Guide to All Types of 3D Printing.
Did you know that the 3D printing market in the United Kingdom was £453.6m in 2021? The global 3D market is also expanding, and many industries are turning towards this revolutionary technology for creating anything from total joint replacements, jewellery and even car parts.
It can be challenging to know which types of 3D printing your business could benefit the most from. To help solve your dilemma, we have put together the most popular 3D printers for businesses. Keep reading on for more information!
What Is 3D Printing?
At its core - 3D printing essentially means you can print out objects three-dimensionally. Some types of printers require different materials, but most use thermoplastic kinds.
These machines typically work by layering these materials on top of each other through a computer program or digital scanner. 3D printers first came out in the 1980s and have since improved and redefined the landscape of businesses.
You can now find 3D printers in automotive, mechanical engineering, healthcare, and online retailer industries.
Types of 3D Printing
3D printers are becoming more commonplace in businesses and households to create highly accurate, detailed pieces. Technology is constantly advancing and affecting the 3D printer world. An example of this is using ultraviolet light or resin for curing projects.
Other methods use high-heat and special thermoplastic materials for faster production times. There are four main types of 3D printers, although you might find even more options if you search the internet. The primary 3D printer types include:
- Fused Deposition Modeling
- Fused Filament Fabrication
- Digital Light Processing
Whichever method you choose, there are pros and cons, and some are more suitable for the home than business use.
Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)
When searching for the 'best type of 3D printer', you can come up with various results, and the one you pick is primarily based on what you need it for. For a generic, all-encompassing 3D printer, look at FDM models.
FDM printers focus on the melting process of plastic. In return, it can create multiple objects quickly and efficiently. These types are some of the more popular ones because they are easy to use and more cost-friendly.
These printers also allow you to scale your object(s) to the exact size you want. This feature makes it conducive for a lot of different businesses. Remember that these printers tend to run on the larger size to adapt to other scalable objects.
Lastly, FDM printers are also highly beneficial if you seek a printer that can handle different materials. When using more expensive printers, you might have to pre-treat materials with certain resins. The design of FDM printers easily accommodates different thermoplastic materials.
The downside to FDM printers is that they can be fairly raw and require added touches. Since the printer accommodates a wide range of scalability and materials, it sacrifices detailed areas. If you don't mind sanding down your finished product, it is still an excellent choice for all types of businesses.
Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF)
FDM printers are widely used 3D printers for businesses. FFF printers hold very similar characteristics to the FDM printers, and sometimes, they can be hard to differentiate.
However, FFF printers are usually even more cost-friendly and don't produce high-quality results. While FDM printers have remained more mainstream for businesses, FFF printers are typically used more casually. In short - there isn't much difference between FDM and FFF printers other than lower-quality grade materials and more temperature fluctuations in production.
That does not mean they don't have their time and place for business use, and if you want one of the cheapest 3D printers.
Stereolithography Technology (SLA)
When you pull up different 3D printers, you can't ignore SLA printers. It uses computer-generated files to 3D print objects in less time than your FFF or FDM models.
SLA printers require a special plastic that works by layering it into the 3D model you have uploaded. SLA uses laser technology for improved accuracy in the final design and curing the project. You might still have some light sanding or painting after completing the project.
However, it is becoming more commonplace to see SLA printers in various industries, and it is helpful if you want to upgrade from an FDM printer for better accuracy.
The downside to SLA versus FDM is that you typically have less scalability. The smaller designs may not be as conducive if you want larger work projects. It also requires more time post-production, including resin curing and washing.
If you want something more straightforward at a lower cost, you might opt for FDM over SLA.
Digital Light Processing (DLP)
DLP printers work similarly to SLA ones in that they both use resin for curing. However, DLP printers operate through a digital projector that cures multiple points at one time.
SLA and DLP printers are arguably the two top types of 3D printers in the marketplace for businesses. DLP operates mainly on a resolution for accuracy and details.
For buyers, this means that DLP printers have a more specific use. They work well with small, detail-oriented objects. If you print something larger, it often has a poorer resolution.
Although not quite as scalable as FDM, SLA still has broader uses than DLP. If you own a jewellery making business or something of that calibre, DLP printers efficiently produce these small, ornate pieces.
It also cuts down production time compared to SLA by simultaneously curing multiple focal points. Overall, both DLP and SLA printers will cost, on average, more than your FFF or FDM ones.
Find Your Next 3D Printer
There are a few different types of 3D printing that can benefit your business. SLA and DLP printers will cost more, have less scalability, and produce more detailed results. These are excellent options for businesses looking at printing smaller objects and are willing to pay more for better quality results.
When in doubt, FDM or FFF printers can get the job done and work on various sized projects within a friendlier budget. Check out our website and view our line of 3D printers that can take your business to the next level!