3D printing is a form of additive manufacturing technology where a three dimensional object is created by laying down successive layers of material. 3D printers are generally faster, more affordable and easier to use than other additive manufacturing technologies. 3D printers offer product developers the ability to print parts and assemblies made of several materials with different mechanical and physical properties in a single build process. Advanced 3D printing technologies yield models that closely emulate the look, feel and functionality of product prototypes.
A 3D printer works by taking a 3D computer file and using and making a series of cross-sectional slices. Each slice is then printed one on top of the other to create the 3D object. The cost of 3D printers has declined. The technology also finds use in the jewellery, footwear, industrial design, architecture, engineering and construction (AEC), automotive, aerospace, dental and medical industries.
A large number of competing technologies are available to do 3D printing. Their main differences are found in the way layers are built to create parts. Some methods use melting or softening material to produce the layers (SLS, FDM) where others lay liquid materials that are cured with different technologies. In the case of lamination systems, thin layers are cut to shape and joined together. Selective laser sintering (SLS)
Selective laser sintering (SLS) is an additive manufacturing technique that uses a high power laser (for example, a carbon dioxide laser) to fuse small particles of plastic, metal (Direct Metal Laser Sintering), ceramic, or glass powders into a mass that has a desired 3-dimensional shape. The laser selectively fuses powdered material by scanning cross-sections generated from a 3-D digital description of the part (for example from a CAD file or scan data) on the surface of a powder bed. After each cross-section is scanned, the powder bed is...