The 3D printing It is one of the major trends of the last years in the technology field. In fact we are seeing little by little as they go out to the consumer market different models of 3D printer you can buy both online and in stores.
However, 3D printing has much more behind what appears in the first instance. Comparative mode is as if we talk of automobiles, a huge field and have different subtypes such as electric, hybrid or fuel oil (diesel / gasoline / LPG).
There are three main technologies When speaking of 3D printers and want to know them and to also know what kind of parts and finishes you can get with them.
Example of pieces made with 3D printer
3D modelling vs traditional printing
3D printers are part of what are known as processes of additive manufacturing. These processes are those which allow to manufacture an object from the ground where machines will be adding material to form the final piece.
In the traditional manufacturing as it can be by means of numerical control lathe machining is part of a block of material on which they begin to perform operations by removing layers until the piece that you want to get and we leave you a video in which are shown the most common methods of machining:
The additive processes include, among others, all technologies rapid prototyping (Rapid Prototyping) methods such as 3D printing: FDM, FFF, Stereolithography (SLA) or the selective Laser Sintering (SLS).
All additive manufacturing processes have in common the fact that can generate very complex geometries in a very fast way. In all cases, the objects present a material texture of very thin layers, almost imperceptible.
Mark Villacampa, who take in this world since the arrival of the RepRap printers and that has made recent analysis of the latest market 3D printers and scanned the 3D printing business model gives us the key to the growing popularity of 3D printing:
The recent boom of personal 3D printing is mainly due to the expiration of certain patents related to FDM technology. The technology previously protected by these patents made possible the birth of the RepRap project in 2005.
All companies that are currently in the market for 3D printing are driven by the success of the RepRap project.
Plastic material deposition technologies
The technology that has popularized this method of printing figures and parts in 3D has been the one known as Fusion Deposition Modeling (FDM) which was invented and patented by the end of the 1980s by Scott Crump who began to market through the company he founded with his wife, Stratasys.
1 extruder / 2. Material deposited / 3. Motion axes
It is a technology that allows you to get parts using plastic (similar to the material of the Lego toys) ABS either PLA (a biodegradable polymer that is produced from organic material).
The vast majority of personal 3D printers using FDM technology
Technology FDM It was protected by patent and was born a technology that, in essence, is similar, Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) have seen on printers like RepRap.
Printing with this technology starts from the bottom layer, creating a surface on the base to be able to separate the piece. Using a thin thread of plastic passes through the extruder that is, in short, a device that heats the material up to the melting point. At that time plastic is deposited in the corresponding position of the layer being printed in question.
Be deposited in its place, the material cools and solidifies, finished once that layer, moves vertically a small distance to start the next layer. According to the piece to make it may need several stands that are deleted a posteriori is.
Printing, as in most 3D printing methods, layer to layer is done. Imagine that you want to print an Apple, because the work is done by printing thin slices of it. The more fine are the same, the better the final print quality. Here an example video of the difference when using thinner layers (more time printing) with thicker layers:
3D laser printing technologies
We continue with the most popular technologies of 3D printing and we spent talking about two technologies that use the laser, with Stereolithography (SLA) and Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) technology. These technologies achieves greater accuracy of printed parts and save on printing time.
SLA technology or Stereolithography He was born before the technology of FDM and FFF of the hand of Charles Hull, who also founded the company 3D Systems. This company was the first to put on sale today what we call 3D printer.
A printer of SLA has a performance also layer to layer but in contrast to the previous method on this occasion is part of a base that is by immersing (or leaving) layer to layer in a resin bath light-cured. Ultraviolet light laser activates the healing of liquid resin, solidifying it. At that time the base scrolls down so the laser back to exert its action.
With this method are achieved figures in great detail though, like the later method, wasted some amount of material according to what parts if need to fabricate brackets that are deleted a posteriori.
And finally we present the SLS technology or Selective Laser Sintering. This technology was born at the University of Texas in the early 1980s also and despite having some similarities with the SLA technology in concept, allows you to use a large number of materials.
Unlike printing via SLA that makes use of a bathroom of a polymer liquid-light-cured material is used in powder (polystyrene, ceramics, glass, nylon and metal materials). Laser hits the powder melts the material and solidifies (sintered).
All material is not sintered powdered is located where it was initially and provides support for parts, main advantage in comparison with the technologies that you have presented before. Once the piece that material can be removed and reused for the next parts printing.
Other 3D printing technologies
I have already mentioned the most popular 3D printing processes but they are not alone and want to record other methods less used today. This does not mean that in the future we cannot see as they become more popular.
The first one is PolyJet photopolymer, developed by Objet (acquired by Stratasys) and which is similar to the way in which ink printers lay ink. A liquid Photopolymer is ejected and then solidifies with an ultraviolet light. As it happens with the rest of technology 3D printing is carried out layer to layer.
In theory this technology would make use of different materials and colours simultaneously layer to layer.
Another 3D printing technologies is Syringe Extrusion that is nothing more than a printing system that makes use of any type of material in creamy or viscous format and it makes use of an extruder manga as a pastry / syringe, by placing the material in the proper position.
According to the material used will be required that the extruder hot (for example chocolate) or not (silicone).
We continue with other methods which are, in majority, modifications of the above but is worth mentioning. We started with Selective Laser Melting (SLM) which is similar to SLS but that melts the powder material instead of just merge it at low temperature.
The SLM process is equivalent to Electron Beam Melting (EBM) which uses a beam of electrons instead of a UV laser to melt the powder.
And finally also we have Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM) where different layers of material (adhesive paper, plastic or sheet metal) are placed one on top of another and glued with adhesive/resin and are cut with the appropriate laser form. This process partly resembles carbon fiber manufacturing mode.
As you can see we have many technologies available to print in 3D. It is a market in full expansion and very young so may not have a clear idea about what direction will continue to.
Shoes made with a 3D printer
Which it can note is that it is still a great revolution in the market due to the infinite possibilities that are offered, including figures, parts and even clothing or footwear among others.
Dress made with parts fabircadas via 3D printer
Current state of the market and vision of the future of 3D printing
Finally we leave you with the opinion of Mark Villacampa on the current state of the market for 3D printing, in which price moves the sector and what types technology are the most popular:
“The vast majority personal 3D printers, both models DIY that you ride yourself, as that come already ready to use, using the FDM technology. The prices range from €600 a Mount Kit to about €3000 of a mounted printer and with more features.”
Do you see the? immediate future of this technology and in which fields is catching more?
“In the short term, the market of personal 3D printers will continue to grow in the professional fields such as architecture, industrial design, or research laboratories. These are groups that already benefited previously industrial 3D printers, but were prohibitively priced for your budget. In the houses will take more to see a pervasive adoption 3D printers. For now, the applications in this area are limited and only a few early adopters with technical knowledge and sufficient purchasing power are encouraged to join the printing 3D.”
And finally we want to look a little further on, face to the future, to see as much as possible what business model We could end up seeing in this field:
“It will be interesting to see how 3D printers manufacturers evolve and why business model decide to bet. The logical thing would be to think that adopted the model of the traditional paper printers, and manufactured increasingly cheaper printers while they increase the price of consumables.
A business model much healthier for all ecosystem would consist of manufacturers to launch the creation of 3D models that users can purchase (using a model similar to applications on smartphones stores) and print in your 3D printers. “So we could have more supplies cheap that encourage consumers to print more, and more expensive printers, but with more features and higher print quality.”