What Is 3D Printing?
Also known as additive manufacturing, 3D printing is a way to create physical objects directly from digital files. While digital design is nothing new, manufacturing has traditionally relied on technologies that cut objects from larger blocks or sheets of material; or forming methods that rely on expensive molds and patterns. In contrast, 3D printing is an additive process that builds objects one layer at a time from the bottom up.
Stratasys 3D Printing Technologies
Stratasys develops and manufactures two of the most versatile and widely used 3D printing technologies available today.
FDM creates parts layer-by-layer with engineering-grade thermoplastics. FDM is often used to build complex geometries and functional parts, including prototypes, low-volume production pieces, manufacturing aids, and jigs and fixtures.
PolyJet is a 3D printing process that jets and cures thin layers of liquid photopolymer with UV energy. It is capable of printing in 16-micron layers and in multiple durometers and many colors for multi-material parts. PolyJet is an excellent option for realistic, high-resolution models and prototypes, short-run injection molds and master patterns for urethane casting.
More Additive Manufacturing Technologies Available Through Stratasys Direct Manufacturing
Stereolithography (also known as SL or SLA) builds parts layer-by-layer using a UV laser to solidify liquid photopolymer resins. It is commonly used to produce concept models, master patterns, large prototypes and investment casting patterns.
Laser Sintering (also known as Selective Laser Sintering, SLS or LS) uses a CO2 laser to heat and fuse durable thermoplastic powder to build versatile parts with high elongation at break. LS production parts and prototypes provide lightweight, heat and chemical resistant solutions.
Direct Metal Laser Sintering
Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) fuses powdered metal and alloy materials with a high-wattage laser to produce robust, metal parts. DMLS produces fully realized metal parts, including tools and production parts for a variety of industries.
Learn more about Stratasys Direct Manufacturing.
How Is 3D Printing Used?
Also known as additive manufacturing, 3D printing encompasses a wide variety of methods and technologies from plastic extrusion, to polymer jetting, to laser sintering. Some technologies serve specific uses like jewelry design or dental modeling. Others span industries and produce everything from concept models and functional prototypes to manufacturing tools and production parts.
For demanding manufacturing applications, 3D production systems provide large print capacity, top-notch accuracy and highly durable materials. For highly visual applications like product design, art and special effects, multi-material 3D printing offers a range of colors and materials for astounding realism. For individual contributors and small teams, affordable desktop systems bring 3D printing right to your workspace.
Designers, engineers, artists and researchers are finding new uses for 3D printing every day – and pushing the limits of what it can do. Whether 3D printing in-house or partnering with a manufacturing service, companies are saving time and expense while advancing innovation in virtually every industry.