3D printing plastics for FDM and SLA fabrication are the most widely available for home, commercial, and hobbyist fabrication. The industry is rapidly growing; new methods of printing are becoming widely available to the consumer audience, and new discoveries in 3D printer plastics are hitting mainstream.
3D Printing encompasses a number of different printing methods. Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) is the most commonly available printing technology in the industry. Stereolithography (SLA) is becoming increasingly popular as the cost and complexity for SLA printers decreases.
While FDM plastics and SLA plastics use different methods of 3D printing, the end result is the same. An object is created using 3D printer filament plastic as a medium. The general definition of all 3D printing methods is known as “additive manufacturing”. Under this term, a wide variety of 3D printing technologies are employed. For this article, we’ll differentiate between FDM and SLA printing. Both FDM and SLA are 3D printing methods but use different technologies and materials to accomplish their task.
Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) 3D Printing Plastics
FDM printers lay down melted plastic or metal material in successive layers on top of each other. The plastic itself is wound in a coil on a spool (similar to sewing thread) and offers two standard sizes: 1.75mm or 3mm diameter filament. As plastic is melted and extruded on to the build surface, the spool rotates additional filament forward toward the nozzle. The extruder head travels along the X and Y axis of the printer while the build platform raise upward along the Z axis.
Depending on ABS or PLA printing plastic, the temperature can vary between 190° – 250° C. Additional factors for melting include the filament properties, quality, and size. Different printers use 1.75mm or 3mm diameter filament. Ultimately this depends on the printer’s design. Both filament sizes will generally produce the same results in an object but there are minute performance differences. 1.75mm generally requires less force to push filament through the nozzle. This results in less “stringiness” and faster extrusion speeds in prints. 3mm is less expensive and offers a lower feed rate which in some cases is better for larger parts. Regardless, ABS and PLA are both offers in 1.75mm and 3mm diameter filament plastics.
Stereolithography (SLA) 3D Printing Plastics
SLA printers aren’t were traditionally out of financial reach for most people. Rather than feeding the printer with plastic filament on a spool for heating, photopolymer liquid resin is poured into a vat located within the unit. Photopolymer resins harden when exposed to lasers or light. As the build platform moves downward into the resin tank, exposed resin is hit by built in lasers “painting” the objects cross section layer by layer.
Resins are offered in various colors with additional material properties currently in development. While ABS and PLA plastic generally offer higher object durability, resin-cured objects offer better resolution and detail. As the photopolymer market advances, we’ll soon see resins on sale that are less expensive, stronger, and offer a number of unique material properties.
Depending on the fabrication method, 3D printer filament plastics are offered in different forms and functions. 3D Printer Pro provides consultative sales help on all aspects 3D printing. We can answer any questions you have on 3D printer plastics, printers, and accessories for sale. For more information please contact us. We can acquire a wide variety 3D printing filaments for FDM plastics or SLA plastics to meet your needs.