What is 3D Printing ?

3D Printing or Additive Manufacturing is a Rapid Prototyping and Rapid Manufacturing process which uses CAD data of an object to create it in real time by subsequent material addition in the form of layers.

1. What are some commonly used Materials for 3D Printing ?

Different 3D Printing technologies use different types and forms of materials. They can be broadly classified in 3 categories namely –

  • Filaments


  • Powders


  • Resins


Filaments like ABS, PLA and HIPS are commonly used in technologies like FDM (Fused Deposition Modelling) and FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication). Whereas Polyamide (Nylon), Titanium, Alumide (Combination of Polyamide and Aluminium) and Mild Steel in the form of powder, are commonly used materials in powder based technologies like SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) and DMLS (Direct Metal Laser Sintering). Liquid Photo-polymers (Photo reactive) are UV Curable resins, used in technologies like SLA (Stereo Lithography Apparatus) and MJM (Multi Jet Modelling).

 2.  What quality of Surface Finish can be expected for products made with 3D Printing?

The amazing things that can be made using 3D printing these days are quite impressive but there are a few issues of concern in 3D printing at present, Surface Finish being one of them.

Additive Manufacturing does not produce a great surface finish but with proper and controlled finished operation, one can achieve surface finish comparable to injection molding.

The reason being the process of 3D Printing itself.

For technologies like FDM and  FFF, Surface Finish is quite an issue with the layers being visible and felt, thus giving a rough surface finish. Though a smoother finish with post processing like Sanding, can be obtained.


Similarly for Powder based AM Technologies like SLS and DMLS, a grainy finish, comparatively better than FDM and FFF, is obtained.


The best Surface Finish can be expected out of UV Curable Resin based technologies like SLA and MJM, which give a smoother finish compared to other technologies.



3.  What is the minimum wall thickness needed for a 3D Printed object to be strong enough?


Each Additive Manufacturing technology comes with a minimum thickness limitation.

Filament based technologies require minimum thickness in the range 1-1.5 mm (depending upon the printers being used), to gain a considerable amount of strength.

For Powder base technologies, like SLS, the minimum thickness range is 0.8-1.5 mm. Similarly for DMLS, it varies from 0.3 to 2 mm for different materials.

As for Resin based technologies, like SLA, it is between 0.5-1 mm (depending upon the printers being used). Another technology using UV Curable material, called MJM , minimum thickness can go up to 0.3 mm.

4.  Can 3D Printing make Detailed and High Resolution Objects?


Definitely Yes. A few technologies like SLA, DLP (Digital Light Processing) a form of SLA, MJMSLS etc., produce a High Resolution, Precise and Detailed output.

The resolution and precision of printed object depend on the feature sizes present on the object and layer thickness produced by the 3D Printer. The smaller the layer thickness, a 3D Printer can produce the higher the resolution, making detailed features distinctly visible.

It also highly depends upon the size of a LASER spot and nozzle diameter in deposition technologies. When talking about resolution in 3D Printing, one can say that, the least/smallest distance a LASER can travel or a nozzle can deposit, will decide the resolution of object produced.

5.  What are the common file format used by 3D printers?

Ans. The Commonly used File Formats for 3D Printing are STL (Standard Tessellation Language ) and newer VRML (Virtual Reality Modelling Language). OBJ is a file format used for Colored 3D Printing, a supporting. MTL (Material Template Library) is a file provided for textures to be made in colored 3D Printing.

6.  Can one 3D print objects in color?


The Answer is YES. CJP (Color Jet Printing) is one such AM technology. It is a Binder Jetting process which readily gives 3D prints in full color. Colors are imparted to the printed objects by colored binders, which are selectively sprayed or jetted on a powder base layer by layer simultaneously binding the powder particle and building the object.Another colored interesting 3D Printing Technology uses paper , colored inkjets , and sheet lamination principles to build full colored models layer by layer . Mcor 3D printers use this technology to give you full colored high resolution models

7.  Is customization possible when It comes to 3D printed objects?


Customizing products and 3D Printing go hand in hand now a days .It is being used excessively to provide consumers with custom made products and to give the products the unique touch they have always wanted . 3D printing is also being seen as the future of Mass Customization and is being already implemented in sectors like Jewelry, Automotive, Fashion Industry etc. So yes one can look up to 3D printing when they need a custom made product.

That all for now . Hope you had a good read and the 3D Printing  bug Bit you as well. If it did, stay tuned to our blog for more such posts coming soon ….

(image sources - www.lulzbot.com, www.3ders.org, www.formlabs.com, www.all3dp.com
www.3dsystems.com, www.3dmasterminds.com)

Content by :-
Tejas Farkase
Business Development Manager