3D printing comes in many forms. The type we use at AllosTech, FDM, is the process in which a motor pulls plastic through an extruder that is heated to the point the plastic is liquid and builds the object layer by layer. An FDM printer will run you anywhere from $100-200 to over $3k. Usually the printers with the lower cost are a kit and require you to assemble yourself. We have a Flashforge Creator Pro and Flashforge Dreamer in our office that came pre-assembled – just needed to plug in the power and we were good to go.
This process is usually pretty slow but can result in products that look pretty nice. FDM has many pros/cons:
- Material is inexpensive
- Easy to create new models
- Filament comes into a variety of different materials (including wood and stainless steel)
- Prints are slow
- 3D printers can be finicky
- FDM printing can’t print models with complex overhangs
- May have to constantly re-level and perform maintenance (unlike typical “2D printers” where the only thing you have to replace is the nozzle – 3D printers have a lot more moving parts)
Here is a sample video:
Advances in technology have allowed use to create another type of printing called “resin”. This comes in several forms – but the most common is where there is a rub of melted plastic (called resin). The plate goes down into the tub of plastic and as it rises up the machine uses a UV light to shape and harden the plastic. This results in faster and better looking prints.
Sample video of a Form 2 resin printer:
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