FDM vs. SLA 3D printing

Since the beginning of 3D printing, multiple technologies have been developed, the purpose of which is to convert digital models into physical models. To reach the goal, each of the technologies has different techniques, developments, and results.

FDM 3D Printing Technology

DM means Fused Deposition Modeling. In this type of modeling, the material is typically deposited in single layers, which fuse together and create a 3d object. So, how does it work? First, a 3d model files in “.OBJ” or “.STL” format is imported into a software program called a slicer. Simplify3D, Slic3, and Cura are some great examples of the slicer software program.

This software slices the object into simple separate layers and creates G-code, which tell the printer where it should move and control the parameter like temperature and print speed. Next, the G-code is sent to the printing machine where the nozzle starts heating and melting the filament. The object is then built layer-by-layer with all successive layers fusing on top of each other. The process is repeated until the print is completed.

FDM 3d printing is among the popular forms of 3d printing that is mostly suitable for home use. Its mechanism is simply allowing the user to print 3d object in an effortless and reliable way. In addition, the FDM printer is not expensive and its price range between $200- $400. Though these printers require a good deal of calibration and tinkering to print optimally, they can also produce 3d models with a moderate amount of strength and detail. Moreover, these printers have complications in producing complex models and professional grade prototypes. So, if you are looking to print simple 3d projects, you should buy an FDM printer.

SLA 3d Printing Technology

Stereolithography or SLA printing was invented in the early 80s. It works by curing the resin with light. A liquid resin is solidified through a process known as photo-polymerization, which builds the 3d object layer by layer. Today, this technology is among the most reliable and accurate forms of 3d printing. In addition, there are two primary types of SLA 3d printing technology such as projection based and laser based. How does SLA technology work? First, the user imports the 3d model file into a slicer program called PreForm. Second, a tank is filled with photo-polymer liquid resin. The build platform goes into the tank where the UV laser traces the design. Then, this laser is positioned with the help of galvanometer, which is present in the form of mirrors to rotate and reflect the laser. Next, the resin goes through a process of solidification to create a single layer of the 3d object. This procedure is repeated until the completion of the 3d object. SLA 3D printers are famous for their capability to create high-quality, detailed, and complex designs. Instead of mechanically bonding, the layers follow the chemical bonding technique. This is different from the FDM, which allows the isotropic parts to go through a high mechanical strength process. Because SLA 3d printer creates qualitatively accurate objects, its cost is much higher than that of the FMD printer.
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