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introduction to 3d printing

In this section you will learn:

What is 3D printing or Additive Manufacturing?

3D printing, also known as Additive Manufacturing, is a process by which parts can be manufactured by adding material until the desired three-dimensional geometry is formed. This technology allows for the creation of models in various materials, colors, and shapes, with one of its main advantages being access to complexity. In other words, with 3D printing, objects that are impossible to construct with traditional manufacturing methods can be manufactured. There are 7 Additive Manufacturing (3D printing) technologies, as named by ASTM F-42.

VAT Photopolymerization

VAT Photopolymerization is one of the most mature 3D printing technologies in the market. It utilizes photosensitive resin and a light source, typically in the ultraviolet range. This method is highly precise and is chosen for printing objects that require fine details and high surface quality. Different technologies are employed, such as Stereolithography (SLA), which cures the resin point by point or line by line using lasers. Other techniques, like LCD or DLP, cure the entire layer of resin simultaneously. Each of these techniques has its advantages and disadvantages in terms of speed, precision, and costs.

Alternative Names

  • SLA™ – Stereolithography Apparatus
  • DLPTM – Digital Light Processing
  • 3SP – Scan, Spin, and Selectively Photocure
  • CLIPT – Continuous Liquid Interface Production


  • High level of accuracy and complexity
  • Smooth surface finish
  • Accommodates large build areas

Material Extrusion

Material Deposition using Polymer granulates (FGF). Image credit: Kings 3D Printing

Typical Materials

  • Thermoplastic Filaments and Pellets (FFF, FGF);

  • Liquids, and Slurries (Syringe Types)

Material Extrusion is one of the most well-known methods in 3D printing, especially due to its popularity in desktop 3D printing solutions. In this process, the material, typically thermoplastics, is deposited layer by layer to build the desired object. Besides thermoplastics, this method is also used in food printing and concrete construction. The simplicity and low cost of this technique make it accessible to a wide range of users, while its versatility makes it an attractive option for various applications, from prototyping to final object production. Material extrusion has become extremely popular due to its minimal facility requirements for obtaining functional parts, and its ability to work with various materials including polymers, metals, ceramics, and more.

Alternative Names

  • FFF – Fused Filament Fabrication

    FDM™- Fused Deposition Modeling

    APD™ – Augmented Polymer Deposition

    ADAM™ – Atomic Diffusion Additive Mo*

    BMD™ – Bound Metal Deposition*


  • Neypensive and economical

    Allows for multiple colors

    Can be used in an office environment

    Parts have good structural properties

Binder Jetting

M5 screws 3D printed using Binder Jetting. Image credit: Digital Metal

Typical Materials

  • Powdered Plastic, Metal, Ceramics, Glass,

    and Sand.

Binder Jetting 3D printing is an advanced technology that involves applying a binder onto fine powder of metal, ceramic, or plastic, layer by layer, to create three-dimensional parts with exceptional precision. The ability to print complex objects with fine details and intricate geometries makes Binder Jetting ideal for a wide range of industrial and commercial applications.

Alternative Names

  • 3DPT – 3D Printing

    BJ – Binder Jetting

    *metal & ceramic require post-print sintering


  • Allows for full color printing

    High productivity

    Uses a wide range of materials

Material Jetting

Material Jetting 3D printed parts. Image credit: All3DP

Typical Materials

  • Photopolymers, Polymers, Waxes

Material Jetting is an advanced 3D printing technique that utilizes a specialized printer to deposit liquid materials in ultra-thin layers, which are then solidified through UV curing. This method enables the creation of parts with exceptional precision and a wide range of materials, including polymers, ceramics, and metals. The ability to print objects with multiple materials and colors makes it ideal for applications requiring realistic and functional prototypes.

Alternative Names

  • Polyiet™

    SCP™ – Smooth Curvatures Printing

    MUM – Multi-Jet Modeling



High level of accuracy

Allows for full color parts

Enables multiple materials in a single part

Powder Bed Fusion

Image credit: Farsoon Americas

Powder Bed Fusion, also known as SLS or SLM, is a 3D printing technique that utilizes a powder bed as a base. A laser selectively melts layers of powder to create three-dimensional parts with high precision in various materials such as polymers, metals, and ceramics. This technology is ideal for the production of complex and customized parts in industries such as aerospace, automotive, and medical.


Allows for full color printing

High productivity

Uses a wide range of materials

Typical Materials

  • Powdered Plastic, Metal, Ceramics, Glass, and Sand.

Direct Energy Deposition (DED)

DMT 3D printing in a metal subtrate


Typical Materials

  • Metal Wire and Powder, with Ceramics

Direct Energy Deposition (DED) is an advanced additive manufacturing technique that allows for the deposition of melted material directly onto existing substrates. Using an energy beam, such as a laser or electron beam, this process melts powder or wire material to create precise layers, enabling the manufacturing of complex parts with a wide variety of materials, from metals to ceramics. The versatility of DED makes it ideal for applications requiring repair, coating, or high-quality prototype manufacturing in industries such as aerospace, automotive, and medical.

Alternative Names

  • LMD – Laser Metal Deposition

    LENS™ – Laser Engineered Net Shaping

    DMD – Direct Metal Deposition

    Laser cladding

    WAAM – Wire-arc Additive Manufacturing


Not limited by direction or axis

Effective for repairs and adding features

Multiple materials in a single part

Highest single-point deposition rates

Sheet Lamination

DMT 3D printing in a metal subtrate


Typical Materials

  • Paper, Plastic Sheets, and Metal Foils/Tapes

Sheet Lamination is a 3D printing technique that involves bonding thin layers of material in sheets to build three-dimensional objects. This process utilizes sheets of material, such as paper, plastic, or metal, which are joined together using heat, adhesives, or pressure to form the layers of the object. The versatility of Sheet Lamination allows for the manufacturing of large and complex parts with a wide variety of materials and is ideal for applications requiring rapid prototyping and small-scale production. Discover how Sheet Lamination is being used in industries such as architecture, product design, and education to efficiently and precisely create customized objects.

Alternative Names

  • LOM – Laminated Object Manufacture

    SDL – Selective Deposition Lamination

    UAM – Ultrasonic Additive Manufacturing


High volumetric build rates

Relatively low cost (non-metals) Allows for combinations of metal foils, including embedding components.

Sheet Lamination

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