Additive Manufacturing is a process that turns a 3D design file into a real object by adding layer-upon-layer of material. This material can be metal, plastic, composite, rubber and many more. The additive manufacturing machine set up its parameters and guides for the material that it lays down successively to create a 3D object.
With this, You can:
in manufacturing tools
Shorten time to market
Design complicated and/
or functional products without additional costs
Keep revising & updating
your design files
Grit3D provides a one-stop decentralized Additive Manufacturing platform that helps you manufacture different objects based on your needs. These are some of the technologies you can learn about and choose from:
Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM)
In FDM, small strings of material (thermoplastic) is extruded and laid down on the printing bed. It works almost like a hot glue gun. The extruded thermoplastic cools and hardens as it lays down. The printing bed then lowers and the next layer of material is printed. The process repeats itself until the desired 3D object is completed. FDM technology is preferred when you require:
- Strength & Durability
- Economical Solution
- High Accuracy
- Surface Finish
- Longer Build Times
- Limited Colors
With FDM, you can build just about any geometry you can imagine. Apart from prototyping, it allows low-volume production of complicated end-use parts as well. Moreover, many would-be entrepreneurs and inventors are using this technology to perform design studies on their ideas and present them to the mass.
SLA process begins with a thin layer of liquid plastic (photopolymer) that is exposed above the printing bed. The UV laser hit the bed and paints the first layer of the object, which hardens instantly. The printing bed then moves and exposes another layer of photopolymer, thus repeating the above process. SLA technology is preferred when there is a need for:
- Fast Lead Time (upto 24 Hours)
- High Accuracy
- High Surface Quality
- Large Single-Build Parts
- Very Small Parts with Detail
- Limited Choice of Material
- More Expensive
- Final Part may be not be fully cured
- Difficult to use
Due to its ability to produce great looking parts, SLA is ideally used for visual prototypes for photoshoots and market testing. Apart from ‘show and tell’ parts, prototypes having limited functionality are printed through SLA. With its dynamic emergence, SLA is being used in many industries for making master patterns for different casting methods.
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
SLS process is very similar to SLA process. However, instead of working with liquid, SLS uses a layer of powdered material that is laid down carefully using a roller on the printing bed. A laser then sinters the cross-section of the object, the bed moves and the process repeats.
With powder, there is no need for support structures so this technology is highly suitable for producing interlocking parts, moving parts and highly complex geometries. Along with these, SLS provides:
- Fast Lead Time
- High Complexity
- Direct Production of Low-Volume projects
- Complex Geometry Design Freedom
- Very Expensive Peripherals
- Surface Quality
- Expensive to run
- Heavy Post-Processing
SLS technology was the first rapid prototyping technique to be used for volume production. Smaller objects printed from SLS technology can serve as a cost effective alternate to injection-molded parts. On the other hand, SLS machine also allows large and highly complex products to be printed that may be built as one-off products or in small batches.
Metal 3D Printing
Similar to SLS, Metal 3D Printing uses the layer of evenly distributed metallic powder that is melted and welded together using a high-powered laser technology. However, the powder cannot be of any kind. Since the layers being printed are ultra-thin in this process, the powder must be perfectly shaped (usually spherical) in order to spread out evenly. Once the model is ready, it goes under heat treatment. With Metal 3D Printing, it is now possible to print metal parts having great complexities. Some of its applications are:
- Production Tools
- Rigid Housings
- Spare Parts
- Heat Exchanger & Heatsinks
Metal 3D Printing is highly preferred when there is a requirement for fast and economical solution for producing complex parts. In fact, the final products from this technique have mechanical properties close to what are normally achieved through some of the casting processes.
PolyJetworks very similar to how your office printer works. However, instead of jetting a layer of ink, it goes back and forth laying down a layer of UV cured photopolymer resin. With the completion of each layer, the bed moves and the next layer prints. PolyJet uses gel-like material for supporting complex geometries which is very easy to remove. PolyJet allows to print a 3D model using different materials having different mechanical / physical properties, all in a single build. Another edgy feature that this technique has over other technologies is its ability to print clear / see-through parts. Apart from multi-material and multi-colour features, itis preferred when you need:
- High Resolution
- Smooth Surface & Durability
- Thin Walls
- Ease of Use
- High Build Speed
- Poor Mechanical Properties
- Changes Properties over time when exposed to heat or light
This technology is highly recommended for printing both the types; the visual prototypes having fine detail and also the functional prototypes. Entertainment industries are using this technology for their presentation models and manufacturing industries are using PolyJet to print master patterns for their casting processes.