There are many different 3D printing techniques. The best known techniques are: Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), Stereolithography (SLA), and Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM). The SLS technique functions by repeatedly dosing a layer of powder on a powder bed. The form of the product is created by putting the laser on a selection of the powder bed. SLA functions by curing resin using a UV-laser, creating a product layer after layer. FDM is the most popular contemporary technology to create products, and dddrop has chosen this 3D printing technique for several reasons.
The FDM technique is based on extrusion. By means of a print head, a molten layer of plastic is deposited on the print bed, which then adheres. Once the first layer has been drawn, the print bed drops and a new layer is built on the previous layer. This is repeated several times, ultimately resulting in a 3D printed model.
dddrop has deliberately chosen the FDM technology. “What was decisive for us, are the lower cost and the user friendliness of this technique,” says Alfred Uytdewilligen who is the CEO of dddrop. “Compared to other techniques, FDM is a lot cheaper. For companies it is very important to know whether producing by means of 3D printing technique is cheaper than utilising the traditional way of producing.” The powder that is used in SLS and the liquid for SLA are very costly for example. In contrast, for the material that is used in FDM technology, the filament, costs are much lower. For this reason FDM technology is more attractive to many companies.
Broad range in materials
Because the range of filaments is extensive, companies can switch materials easily and economically. Companies can also choose to simultaneously print a multitude of materials. “The dddrop ‘Leader TWIN’ for example can print models using two different materials or colours at the same time, which is impossible with SLS or SLA,” Alfred continues. “As a result – among other things – the printing of complex models is possible, because the additional print head is used for support material such as HIPS or PVA.”
Less time consuming
In addition, compared to FDM technology, the other techniques require more post processing. One does not need to knock off powder or be very careful with costly liquids. “With FDM, almost no post processing is needed, the product is quickly ready for use,” says Alfred.
Last but not least, the FDM technology is much more accessible than other 3D printing techniques. Practice shows that people tend to pick up on this technique pretty fast and can carry it out quite easily. As Alfred puts it: “This makes the FDM technique appealing to companies that have little or no experience with 3D printing, as well as for companies who already have some experience.”
“Based on these reasons and the fact that the FDM technique is generally more suitable for our customers (professional users), we deliberately chose this technique,” Alfred concludes.