3D printing is a technique that allows physical objects to be formed from digital models. It has been around for decades, but it has only recently gained mainstream attention and acceptance. This is due in part to technological improvements that have made it more accessible and affordable, as well as the expanding number of three-dimensional printing applications across numerous industries.
There are various distinct 3D printing technologies available, each with its own set of ups and downs. The two most prevalent 3D printing technologies are resin (SLA) and filament (FDM);
SLA, or stereolithography, is a procedure that uses a laser to harden a liquid resin to create a solid item. FDM, or fused deposition modeling, is a process that involves spreading a plastic filament via a nozzle to build up an item layer by layer.
Since SLA 3D printing produces high-resolution, smooth-surfaced items, it is great for building detailed models and prototypes. It is, however, more expensive than FDM and necessitates the use of hazardous ingredients, making it less accessible and more difficult to use safely. FDM 3D printing, on the other end, is known for its low cost and ease of usage, making it a popular choice for newbies and microenterprises.
Both SLA and FDM three-dimensional printing technologies have strengths and drawbacks, and which technology to employ will depend on the specific project and intended outcome. However, with technological developments, the gap between these two technologies is diminishing, and it is becoming increasingly viable to make high-quality prints with SLA and low-cost prints with FDM.
Resin (SLA) 3D Printing
Resin (SLA) Three Dimensional printing, also known as stereolithography, is a method that employs a laser to harden a liquid resin layer by layer to form a solid product. This tech has been used to make everything from prototypes and miniatures to dental implants and prosthetics for decades.
One of the most significant benefits of this printing method is the ability to generate high-resolution, smooth-surfaced items. SLA printing uses a laser that can focus on very small areas, enabling for the fabrication of highly complex and complicated parts. Further, the liquid resin used, produces an extremely smooth surface finish, making it excellent for manufacturing parts for use in areas where a smooth surface is needed.
An additional aspect of SLA 3D printing is its ability to produce pieces with high precision. Because the laser can concentrate on small areas, it can produce objects with tight tolerances and accurate measurements. As a result, this technique is suitable for producing parts for use in applications that demand precision, such as the automobile or aerospace industries.
Talking about the downside, SLA is its pace in contrast to other 3D printing processes. The process of hardening the resin layer by layer with a laser takes time, which can be a really big disadvantage if you need to make a big number of pieces quickly. Moreover, SLA 3D printing necessitates extensive post-processing, which might extend the time required to produce a finished product.
Despite its drawbacks, it has become a popular method for producing high-quality, precise products. Its ability to generate high-resolution and smooth-surfaced parts, as well as parts with tolerances and accurate dimensions, makes it excellent for manufacturing parts for applications where accuracy and quality are vital.
Materials Used in Resin (SLA) 3D Printing
The type of resin used in SLA printing can have a major impact on the end product’s attributes and quality. SLA printing resins come in a wide range of variants, each with its own set of characteristics.
- Photopolymer Resin is one of the most prevalent forms of resin used in SLA printing. Photopolymer resin, a liquid plastic that hardens when exposed to light, is an excellent choice for this kind of printing. This resin is noted for its high degree of detail and great resolution, making it ideal for manufacturing complex models and prototypes. It is also available in a wide range of colors, enabling the creation of pieces with a diversity of features.
- Epoxy Resin is yet another kind of resin that is often used in SLA printing. This resin is a thermosetting polymer with exceptional strength and durability. This makes it an excellent choice for producing parts for use in applications requiring high strength, such as the aerospace or automotive sectors. Also, the low shrinkage of epoxy resins reduces the risk of warping and cracking during the printing process.
- Some other resins include Silicone Resins, which are known for their flexibility and strong resilience to temperature and chemicals, and Polyurethane resins, which are known for their strength and durability.
Other than the type of resin used, the post-processing methods for SLA printed parts must be considered;
SLA printed products generally require further effort to smooth out the surface and improve the overall finish. This can include using a UV light to cure the pieces and using a chemical solution to remove any remaining uncured resin. It should be noted that the resin used in this can be poisonous, thus it is critical to handle and store it carefully, as well as wear adequate personal protection equipment when working with it. Also, because some resins are flammable, they must be kept away from heat sources.
Filament (FDM) 3D Printing
Filament (FDM) 3D printing, also known as fused deposition modeling, is a procedure in which a plastic filament is extruded through a nozzle to layer by layer build up an item. Because of its low cost and ease of use, this technology is one of the most popular 3D printing technologies.
One of the most obvious benefits is its low cost. The filament used in FDM printing is generally inexpensive, as are the 3D printers themselves, making it an accessible alternative for individuals and micro enterprises. Nevertheless, it is a relatively basic technique, making it simple to use even for people with little to no printing knowledge.
Another perk of FDM printing is the capacity to produce large sections. Because these printers employ a plastic filament, they can produce larger pieces than other 3D printing methods. Also, FDM 3D printing allows for the use of a large range of filaments, such as ABS, PLA, TPU, and others, each with its own set of characteristics and attributes such as strength, flexibility, and color possibilities.
However, there are certain drawbacks to FDM 3D printing. One of the downsides is that the resolution and surface smoothness of FDM-printed items are not as good as those of SLA-produced parts. Due to the fact that the filament is extruded through a nozzle, the surface finish of the items can be rough and the details may not be as sharp.
Yet, FDM 3D printing is a relatively sluggish process, and creating a huge fraction might take a great deal of time. Another drawback of this is the need for post-processing. FDM printed products frequently necessitate extra labor to smooth out the surface (by sanding) and improve the overall finish. Also, this kind of printing necessitates a certain level of temperature and bed adhesion, which could add to the process’s complexity.
Despite its drawbacks, this has become a popular method for producing low-cost, simple-to-use parts. Its low cost and ease of use make it an excellent choice for hobbyists and small enterprises, and its capacity to carry out big components makes it a viable alternative for a variety of applications. As technology advances, the resolution and surface polish of FDM printed items improve and become more equivalent to SLA-produced parts.
Materials Used in Filament (FDM) 3D Printing
The type of filament used in FDM printing can have a major influence on the final product’s attributes and appearance. For this, there are various types of filaments available, each with its own set of features.
- ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) filament is one of the most often used forms of filament in FDM printing. ABS is a thermoplastic known for its high strength and durability, making it an excellent choice for manufacturing products for use in sectors requiring strength. It is also reasonably simple to print with, making it a popular material among consumers and small businesses.
- PLA (Polylactic Acid) filament is another type of filament that is often used in FDM. PLA is a biodegradable thermoplastic noted for its low toxicity and ease of use. It’s a top destination for artists and microenterprises because it’s simple to use and doesn’t require a high printing temperature. Plus, this filament is available in a wide range of colors, allowing you to produce parts with a variety of looks.
- TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) filament, which is renowned for its flexibility and great resistance to wear and tear, and PETG (Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol) filament, which is known for its high strength and durability, are two more types of filaments used in FDM printing.
It’s worth noting that FDM printing necessitates a specific degree of temperature and bed grip, which varies based on the type of filament used. So, it’s critical to select the proper temperature settings and bed adhesion.
Cost and Maintenance
When adopting a 3D printing method, cost and upkeep are two critical elements to consider. Resin (SLA) and filament (FDM) 3D printing each have their own set of expenses and upkeep requirements.
In terms of cost, FDM is typically thought to be less expensive than SLA 3D printing. The filament used in FDM printing is generally inexpensive, as are the 3D printers themselves, making it an accessible alternative for enthusiasts and small enterprises. The liquid resin used in SLA printing, on the other hand, is often more expensive than the filament used in FDM printing. Moreover, SLA 3D printing necessitates the use of harmful materials, which might raise the overall cost of the procedure.
Another key element to consider is maintenance. FDM 3D printing is thought to be less complicated and easier to maintain than SLA 3D printing. Extruding filament through a nozzle is a simple procedure, and the equipment required is often less expensive and easier to repair. SLA 3D printing, on the other hand, necessitates more complex equipment, and the process of hardening the resin layer by layer with a laser can be more difficult to manage. Furthermore, SLA 3D printing necessitates extensive post-processing, which might complicate the maintenance procedure and also requires an additional product called “Wash & Cure Machine”.
It is also necessary to calculate the cost of replacement parts and consumables. FDM 3D printing necessitates a steady supply of filament, which can build up over time. SLA 3D printing demands a steady supply of resin, which can add to the cost over time. Plus, SLA 3D printing necessitates the use of UV curing lights, which have a limited lifespan and must be changed over time.
Safety and Environmental Considerations
When employing any form of 3D printing technology, safety, and environmental implications must be taken into mind. Resin (SLA) and filament (FDM) 3D printing each have their own set of safety and sustainability issues.
One of the most serious safety risks with SLA 3D printing is the use of poisonous ingredients. To avoid exposure, the liquid resin used in this is frequently hazardous and must be handled and kept properly. Furthermore, the UV curing lamps used in SLA 3D printing might emit deadly UV radiation if not handled appropriately. When dealing with SLA 3D printing materials and equipment, it is critical to wear suitable personal safety equipment, such as gloves and goggles.
Another safety concern with SLA 3D printing is the risk of fire or explosion if the resin is not properly stored or handled. This is due to the fact that some resins are flammable, and UV curing lamps generate heat, which can be a fire hazard. When handling and storing the resin, it is essential that you keep the resin and equipment away from heat sources and follow adequate safety practices.
FDM 3D printing, on the other hand, raises its own array of safety and security problems. Plastic filament is involved in FDM printing, which is a non-renewable resource that can take hundreds of years to decompose in the environment. It also generates tiny plastic particles known as microplastics, which can be hazardous to the environment if not disposed of properly.
The energy consumption of 3D printers is another ecological disaster. This is due to the fact that 3D printers must heat the filament to a high temperature, which requires a large amount of energy. This may be a problem for individuals looking for more environmentally friendly and sustainable 3D printing choices.
To recap, both resin (SLA) and filament (FDM) 3D printing technologies have distinct benefits and drawbacks and the choice of which methodology to use will be defined by the individual aspect and outcome. SLA 3D printing is good for manufacturing high-resolution, smooth-surfaced parts, making it ideal for intricate models and prototypes, whereas FDM 3D printing is a less expensive option with a wide range of materials to pick from, making it a popular choice for hobbyists and new ventures.
When selecting a method, cost, and upkeep are also key variables to consider. FDM 3D printing is typically thought to be less expensive and easier to maintain than SLA 3D printing. Also, when employing any form of printing technology, it is also necessary to address safety and environmental concerns. Toxic ingredients and UV curing lamps must be handled and stored properly for SLA 3D printing, whereas plastic filament must be disposed of properly for FDM 3D printing.
Overall, grasping the distinctions from this post will help you make an informed decision about which 3D printing process is ideal for your particular application. It is critical to evaluate the resolution, surface finish, affordability, ease of use, materials, safety, and environmental factors.
- Top 5 Best 3D Printers under 3000$ (Resin & Filament Both)
- Top 8 Best 3D Printers under 2000$ (Resin & Filament Both)
- Top 8 Best 3D Printers under 1000$ (Resin & Filament Both)
- Top 6 Best 3D Printers under 500$ (Resin & Filament Both)
- Top 5 Best 3D Printers under 300$ (Resin & Filament Both)
- Top 6 Best 3D Printers under 200$ (Resin & Filament Both)