Rapid Prototyping

The world of 3D printers was officially launched in 1986 when Chuck Hull developed the stereolithography concept.

With this method 3D models can be developed using a liquid component that solidifies layer upon layer in order to make prototypes of solid objects.

However, due to its high cost, the 3D printing market failed to take off, remaining confined to the business-to-business world with only two companies producing it: 3D System and Stratasys. Everything changed in 2009 when the main patent for 3D printing expired, the Fused deposition modelling or FDM. More and more companies started producing accessible models of 3D printers so that even individuals were able to buy them.

Over the years the development of open source projects has seen numerous innovations in 3D printing, increasing not only the precision of layer upon layer of the objects but also reducing production times.

MJF

Multi Jet Fusion technology

Comparable to the SLS technology in terms of investment cost and material used (Nylon 12), the HP solution is a winner for production times, the quality of the design and mechanical performance.

The functional prototypes made with the MJF technology are stronger, less absorbent and surfaces are smoother and less grainy (compared to sintered nylon). Grey coloured PA12 powder is used with this technology, based on the work of two chemical agents: a fusion agent supplying the energy and the detail agent defining the geometry.

  • Maximum piece size: 380x290x380
  • Shorter production times
  • A better quality design
  • Excellent mechanical performance
  •  Suitable for functional prototypes and medium production lots

FDM

Fused Deposition Modelling

FDM is the equivalent of FFF, the acronym of Fused Filament Fabrication, whereby a filament passes through an extruder which, taken to a high temperature, renders the material fluid; this is then “deposited” on a printing build plate following a pattern of lines that make up the layers that are placed on top of the previous ones. 

With this technique, and using a supporting structure if so required, objects of any shape can be made with extreme accuracy, sometimes even with layers of only 0.050 mm.

  • Maximum piece size: up to 1 m3
  • Stronger, lower cost

MJF

Multi Jet Fusion technology

Comparable to the SLS technology in terms of investment cost and material used (Nylon 12), the HP solution is a winner for production times, the quality of the design and mechanical performance.

The functional prototypes made with the MJF technology are stronger, less absorbent and surfaces are smoother and less grainy (compared to sintered nylon). Grey coloured PA12 powder is used with this technology, based on the work of two chemical agents: a fusion agent supplying the energy and the detail agent defining the geometry.

  • Maximum piece size: 380x290x380
  • Shorter production times
  • A better quality design
  • Excellent mechanical performance
  •  Suitable for functional prototypes and medium production lots

FDM

Fused Deposition Modelling

FDM is the equivalent of FFF, the acronym of Fused Filament Fabrication, whereby a filament passes through an extruder which, taken to a high temperature, renders the material fluid; this is then “deposited” on a printing build plate following a pattern of lines that make up the layers that are placed on top of the previous ones. 

With this technique, and using a supporting structure if so required, objects of any shape can be made with extreme accuracy, sometimes even with layers of only 0.050 mm.

  • Maximum piece size: up to 1 m3
  • Stronger, lower cost

CFF

Continuos Filament Fabrication

Two different materials can be joined together with this technology but which are similar in the printing process thus creating a composite material that is more resistant to different types of stress compared to classic filament printing. The reinforcement material is normally inserted between the central layers and/or in different areas of the object (it cannot be seen from the outside) strengthening the core of the piece in question.

The external part is in Onyx, a reinforced nylon based plastic material to which either carbon fibre can be added to withstand greater stresses and transfer semiconductor properties or fibreglass, making the object up to 20 times stronger than a typical 3D printed object.

  • Maximum piece size 320x132x154
  • Carbon fibre, fibreglass or Kevlar fibre can be added to it.
  • Useful for small pieces but always high performance.
  • Suitable for small production lots

SLA

Stereolithography

Thanks to a photopolymerisation process a laser solidifies a liquid resin consisting of epoxy polymers which is poured into a tank inside the machine in the points established by the 3D model. After the excess resin has been removed, the printing build plate lowers to allow the creation of a new section and continues until the end of the process.

The product created is then put into a UV oven to complete the polymerisation process. Stereolithography guarantees excellent surface finishes (but with mechanical properties that are inferior on some materials) and is also used to make silicone matrix moulds.

  • Maximum piece size: 145x145x175
  • Maximum precision
  • Possible to produce transparent pieces
  • Useful for the production of dental materials and jewellery
  • Suitable for single prototypes

CFF

Continuos Filament Fabrication

Two different materials can be joined together with this technology but which are similar in the printing process thus creating a composite material that is more resistant to different types of stress compared to classic filament printing. The reinforcement material is normally inserted between the central layers and/or in different areas of the object (it cannot be seen from the outside) strengthening the core of the piece in question.

The external part is in Onyx, a reinforced nylon based plastic material to which either carbon fibre can be added to withstand greater stresses and transfer semiconductor properties or fibreglass, making the object up to 20 times stronger than a typical 3D printed object.

  • Maximum piece size 320x132x154
  • Carbon fibre, fibreglass or Kevlar fibre can be added to it.
  • Useful for small pieces but always high performance.
  • Suitable for small production lots

SLA

Stereolithography

Thanks to a photopolymerisation process a laser solidifies a liquid resin consisting of epoxy polymers which is poured into a tank inside the machine in the points established by the 3D model. After the excess resin has been removed, the printing build plate lowers to allow the creation of a new section and continues until the end of the process.

The product created is then put into a UV oven to complete the polymerisation process. Stereolithography guarantees excellent surface finishes (but with mechanical properties that are inferior on some materials) and is also used to make silicone matrix moulds.

  • Maximum piece size: 145x145x175
  • Maximum precision
  • Possible to produce transparent pieces
  • Useful for the production of dental materials and jewellery
  • Suitable for single prototypes
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