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3D printing material

What material do I use for my printer?

The number of additive manufacturing technologies in 3D printing is constantly increasing. More and more materials are available. In the meantime, even 3D chocolate printers, for example, have been successful on the market. The intended use is decisive for the right 3D printer material. All variants have their specific advantages and disadvantages. The second factor to consider is the hardware: not every printer can handle every 3D printer material.

PLASTICS

FDM (fused deposition modeling) is one of the best-known 3D printing processes and is becoming increasingly popular in the hobby sector.

Plastic filaments such as PLA, PET-G, ABS and many other compositions, with different properties such as weather resistance, UV resistance, chemical resistance, etc., have one thing in common:

With the right temperature settings, they can be formed into one part using a 3D printer. Expressed in a simple way.

To be precise r, the plastic is melted and applied layer by layer to the process plane. The finer the height of the layers, the less you can see the individual layers with the naked eye. However, this increases the printing time enormously. Of course, other factors also affect the time, such as the filling (infill) or the wall thickness.

The filament should preferably be dried or stored in a box with silicate, since plastics generally have a tendency to draw in humidity, which could be noticeable in the printed image. For this reason, heated drying boxes are also recommended.

For 3D printers with a Bowden extruder, it is recommended to feed the filament from the side, whereas for a direct extruder, feeding from the top is advantageous.

Elastic filaments such as TPU can only be printed with a Bowden extruder to a limited extent, since the path between the feed wheels and the hotend is so far apart that the flexible filament no longer has enough force to be pushed through the nozzle and instead is already in the PTFE - Hose could twist.

RESIN

SLA (stereolithography) is the oldest printing process and has hardly changed through the evaluated technology.

Resin (usually with a wavelength of 405nm) is filled into a container. After the start of printing, a platform moves into the container from above and stops at the first layer height. At that moment, the first positions of the object are photographed from below using UV light and harden on the platform. The pressure gradually builds up and finally the finished object is upside down on the platform and can be loosened with a spatula.

The finished object must now be washed out with a Wash & Cure with IPA and then post-cured with UV light.

With this printing process, extremely detailed sculptures, but also functional parts can be produced.

The resin used is available in many different colors. Even transparent or flexible resin can be easily printed with good settings.

METAL

SLS (selective laser sintering) is the pinnacle of additive manufacturing.

Simply explained:

Metal powder is applied layer by layer with a squeegee and the object is built up with a laser after each stroke of the squeegee.

Finally, you have a large construction space filled with powder, from which you have to extract the finished objects with special extraction systems and brushes.

The ingenious thing is that the powder also serves as a support element for the objects and can be reused. Very complex geometries can be manufactured with this process and a high series quality can be achieved with it.

At the moment, the acquisition costs for such devices and their necessary accessories are very high and are therefore more suitable for industrial/commercial purposes.

CERAMIC

It was only a matter of time before this process was also reflected in 3D printing. In the meantime, SLA, DLP, FDM, binder jetting and even SLS processes have been adapted to the ceramic material clay. According to a study, ceramic printing should reach maturity in 2025 and from then on establish itself as a production technology for a wide variety of industries.