3D Printing

The most used rapid prototyping technology

Do you need a prototype made fast but you don’t own a 3D printer? You are in the right place

What is 3D Printing?

3D Printing covers a range of technologies for rapid prototyping within Additive Manufacturing.

It is esentially the process of printing a 3D model of your parts by superposing layers of polymers (plastics).

3D Printing is a quick and economical solution to ubild a physical model of your 3D design. We could say that is the fastest and cheapest method of rapid prototyping.

Main applications for additive manufacturing:

Functional prototypes

Fabrication of functional prototypes to validate the performance, reliability and assembly methods of products.

Low volume series

Fabrication of low volume parts and assemblies for pre-production or final production.

Tooling

Fabrication of tooling and equipment for the assembly and tests during production.

Advantages and Limitations of 3D printing

Main advantages

Main limitations

Types of 3D Printing

Based on the materials and precision needs, there are different technologies that Abilista puts at your disposal.

Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM)

FDM technology is a process of deposition, layer by layer, of a molten plastic filament on a support structure generally located horizontally.

It is the most basic process, which allows enough precision for checking volumes, analyzing interferences etween parts and for ergonomic checks, among others. Although the surface roughness of the pieces is quite limiting, with the evolution of 3D printers, acceptable tolerances are being achieved. 

Regarding the materials available for this rapid prototyping technology, there is an important limitation, since polymers with low melting point must be used, such as ABS, PET, PLA and the like.

Impresión FDM

Stereolithography (SLA)

The photocurable resin-based 3D printing process is a step beyond FDM.

The printer deposits a viscous resin that hardens thanks to the radiation generated by a light source. Depending on the nature of said light, we find three different denominations:

– SLA: Stereolithography (SLA) is one of the oldest technologies within this range of 3D printing. Specifically, it uses a laser to induce the photopolymerization of the resin at a certain point.
– DLP: This acronym refers to Digital Light Processing. A system with a large number of LEDs modulates each diode one by one to project light onto a layer of resin, thus drawing the desired geometry. Unlike SLA, where the laser hit one point, in DLP, the light is applied to the entire layer simultaneously.
– LCD: With the rise of LED technology, this system was born, which uses UV LEDs to cure the deposited resin layer by layer. The resolution of this type of printing depends, as in the DPL, on the number of pixels of the light emitting screen.

Depending on the resin used, the hardness of the piece will be higher or lower. It is also possible to choose the color of it, although it does not allow the combination of several colors.

sla 3d printing

PolyJet

PolyJet gives you the unique ability to print prototypes made up of various materials and colors, with different mechanical and physical properties – all on the same model. In this way, you can safely order parts with unmatched complexity and high-quality finishes.

Polyjet 3d printing

Available Materials

List of the main materials that you can choose from to build your functional prototypes.

PLA

PLA filament is by far the most popular material for 3D printing. It is available in many colors and styles, making it ideal for many applications.

ABS

ABS differs by its high impact resistance and its hardness. It is also very resistant to chemical attack.

TPU

Elastomer with the look and feel of natural rubber. Available in different hardnesses.

PETG

It has exceptional durability, good adhesion and resistance to chemical attack. It is generally considered safe for food contact.

PC

Polycarbonate offers precision, durability and stability, producing robust parts capable of withstanding functional tests.

ULTEM

It is an advanced engineering thermoplastic with excellent resistance to high temperatures and chemical resistance. It has great dimensional stability.

Finishing options

Different finishing options for your parts:

acabado natural

Natural

As they come out of the 3D printer, the parts are cleaned and polished.

acabado tintado

Dyeing

The pieces are immersed in a dye bath with the desired pigment.

pintado spray

Spray paint

Polished and spray painted parts to match a specified color. Primer can be applied to improve adhesion.

acabado suavizado

Smoothing

Printed parts are placed in a sealed container filled with acetone or other solution. The solution interacts with the material and melts the plastic in a slow and controlled way to create a super smooth model.

chapado metal

Metal plating

It consists of placing a thin layer of metal on the surface of the piece. The most commonly used metals for plating are gold, silver and nickel, but there are other plating options such as chrome plating and galvanizing.

sellado

Waterproofing

A sealant is applied on the surface for parts to get hermetic and watertight parts.

3D Printing limitations

Although 3D printing has certainly evolved a lot, it is still in most cases a technology for prototyping, make rough models and then obtain molds.

If you need to go one step further, you will find the next step in Additive Manufacturing. Here we already talk about a greater diversity of materials, including metals such as stainless steel and even titanium.

Now you are an expert

Get quotes for your additive manufacturing projects for free