Additive manufacturing

3D printing or additive manufacturing allow the fast manufacturing of complex shape plastic, metal parts or parts from other materials. This webpage outlines commercially available additive technologies and their availability within the NCC for MATCA.

Plastic 3D printing

Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM)

The printing process is based on the deposition of individual layers of molten thermoplastic that are supplied to the print head in the form a filament or granulate. After its application, the molten material cools down and solidifies. The resulting quality of the product relies on printer design quality and on how well the printing parameters are tuned to the thermoplastic and the printing machine used. More >>

Machines in the consortium:
Stratasys Fortus 450mc
Prusa i3 MK3s

Material Jetting (MJ)

Material jetting is one of the fastest and most precise 3D printing technologies. The parts here are created by applying photopolymer drops, which are subsequently hardened using an UV radiation source. The printer can apply the material from several print heads simultaneously, enabling multi-colour or multi-material printing at the same time. The entire process is repeated layer-by-layer until the whole part is complete. More >>

Machines in the consortium:
Stratasys Objet 500 Connex1
Stratasys Objet J750

Multi Jet Fusion (MJF)

The printing process consists in the application of a glue (a binding agent) on the layer of plastic powder in areas defined by the shape of the manufactured part. The agent enhances the absorption of the IR radiation, causing the powder on the locations sinter. The benefit of the technology is the speed of production of highly rigid parts. They can be used as functional mechanical parts unlike the products of other 3D plastic printing technologies. More >>

Machines in the consortium:
HP Jet Fusion 3D 4200

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Direct Light Processing (DLP)

The technology uses selective hardening of a part of a photopolymer bath, using a UV radiation source located below an LCD display which shields the exposed layer to create a desired shape. The hardening process goes layer-by-layer. This printing method is used for very detailed designs, with a very high surface quality and dimensional precision which is higher than that of FDM technologies. More >>

Machines in the consortium:
Prusa SL1

Stereolithography (SLA)

Stereolithography is a printing process where a product is created by hardening a resin using radiation. The most frequently used source of radiation is an UV laser beam. The areas hit by the beam, containing the light-sensitive resin, become solidified and create the printed layer. Then, the printed part is lifted to a height corresponding to the thickness of the original layer, making way for an unsolidified resin, which floods the area under the lifted part; the process is subsequently repeated until the entire object is complete. More >>

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)

This technology is based on the principle of powder sintering where thin powder layers are sintered one after another using a powerful laser. First, a powder layer is applied to the entire area of the printing platform. The material is pre-heated by the machine to a temperature which is close to the material’s melting point so that the laser can quickly sinter the material in order to bond it to the preceding layer. The advantage of this process where the printed model is continuously surrounded by residual powder is the potential elimination of the need for temporary supports. The prints are very homogeneous, showing excellent mechanical properties.

Metal 3D printing

Selective Laser Melting (SLM)

Selective laser melting is a production method which is similar to SLS and focuses on the processing of powdered metallic materials. The method uses the laser to directly melt the metallic powder located in areas that are defined by the shape of manufactured part’s layer. As soon as one layer is complete, the printing platform lowers by one printing layer, and another layer is applied, and the entire process repeats itself till the whole part is complete. More >>

Machines in the consortium: TruPrint 1000, SLM 280HL, EOS M290

Electron Beam Melting (EBM)

This printing method is based on a complete melting of a metallic powder or wire using an electron beam. To ensure a direct flow of electrons, reducing its unwanted collisions with gases in the atmosphere, a deep vacuum in the whole printing area must be assured. This makes it possible for reactive metals such as titanium and its alloys to be printed. If a powder is used, then this method highly resembles the Selective Laser Melting (SLM) method.

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Laser Engineering Net Shaping (LENS)

The input raw material used for his type of printing can be a metallic powder or a continuous metallic wire. The metallic powder or wire is then fed to the printing platform, where a bath of molten metal had been created by a laser. This highly precise technology reduces the need for further machining of the final print. This method can deliver relatively large parts with a minimum amount of waste material due to its lower requirements on the inertization of the atmosphere and the absence of the powder bed.

Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing (EBAM)

This printing method also used a metallic powder or a continuous metallic wire as an input raw material. The input material is then locally melted in a vacuum using an electron beam, sintered and left to solidify. The final product is made by adding layers. As compared to Selective laser melting, this method benefits from higher energy of the electron beam.

Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM)

The printing process is identical to the 3D printing process with thermoplastics. They use different filament and finishing operations. The production method for metal parts, using FDM technology, uses a filament containing a metallic powder and two types of binding agents. The cleaned part needs to undergo finishing operations to acquire the needed mechanical properties. The printed part, called a “green part”, needs to go through a catalytic process to remove one of its binding agents. The process gives rise to a “brown part” to be placed into an oven, where the other binding agent is removed and metallic particles are sintered at high temperatures. This leads to a homogeneous metallic part.

Binder Jetting (BJ)

Binder Jetting is based applying a glue (binding agent) on metallic powder. This agent glues the powder together in desired areas. The process repeats itself layer-by-layer until the creation of a complete model. This method uses a powder bed and a temperature much lower than in, for example, the Selective Laser Melting (SLM) method. This may prevent a number of negative thermodynamic phenomena in the material used. The printing process including metals parts must incorporate a finishing treatment in an oven, during which the binding agent is removed and metallic particles are fused together by sintering.

Nano Particle Jetting (NPJ)

Nano Particle Jetting is based on the application of metallic nanoparticles which are applied layer by layer together with a liquid solvent. Most of the solvent evaporates almost immediately after application, retaining only an amount which is needed to hold the part together. Like with Binder Jetting technology, the printing temperature is relatively low compared to similar processes. This enables the thermodynamic processes to be kept to a minimum.

3D printing using other materials

Paste Extrusion Modelling (PEM)

This technology uses dense pasty material for printing. During the process, the material is pushed out layer-by-layer, using high pressure. Each layer solidifies immediately after application. This printing method has a great potential for experimental applications in art projects, materials research and custom-made decorations. Its simple construction makes it a safe solution for educational purposes and children projects.

Drop On Demand (DOD)

This is a method where the material is melted in the printing head, creating droplets that are gradually applied on a printing support or on a previous layer. The melting heat builds up pressure that expels the droplets of the material from the printing head. This method is typically used to create wax models for jewellery making.

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Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM)

The printing process consists in layering usually paper or plastic foils which are glued together using a pre-heated cylinder. The foil has a thin layer of glue or colour on one side. The glue is activated with a pre-heated cylinder simultaneously exerting pressure on the layer. The outline of individual plates is cut out with blade, laser or a pre-heated wire. This advantage of this method is that it can be used for high-size products and its building process is relatively fast. The disadvantage is a great amount of waste material that can’t be re-used.

Binder Jetting (BJ)

The Binder Jetting method consists in applying a binding agent on a powder material (typically metal, sand or plaster) that binds the powder in locations defined by the shape of the product. The process repeats itself layer-by-layer until the completion of the model. The binding agent may also contain four primary colours for achieving a colour spectrum. The advantage of this method is a fast printing process, a colour printing option and an easy recyclability of the unused powder from the print. The disadvantage is that the resulting print is not very sturdy, and its surface usually requires an additional treatment.

Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM)

The FDM technology can also be used for materials other than plastics and metals. This method uses a printing material containing particles of another material, such as ceramics, which are bound together by a meltable binding agent that enables the extrusion of the printing material to a desired shape at relatively low temperatures. In the next production steps, the binding agent is removed, using chemical or thermo-chemical processes, and individual ceramic particles are firmly bound together.

Schematic images of 3D printing technologies are used with the permission of Prof. Steffen Ritter.