Open source sls 3d printer

OpenSLS | Hackaday

January 21, 2021 by Al Williams

Most of our 3D printers lay down molten plastic or use photosensitive resin. But professional printers often use metal powder, laying out a pattern and then sintering it with a laser. [Metal Matters] is trying to homebrew a similar system (video, embedded below). And while not entirely successful, the handful of detailed progress videos are interesting to watch. We particularly enjoyed the latest installment (the second video, below) which showed solutions to some of the problems.

Because of the complexity of the system, there are small tidbits of interest even if you don’t want to build a metal printer. For example, in the most recent video, a CCD camera gives up its sensor to detect the laser’s focus.

Continue reading “Getting Closer To Metal 3D Printing” →

Posted in 3d Printer hacksTagged laser, laser sintering, metal 3d printing, NUBM31, OpenSLS, sls

February 23, 2016 by James Hobson

Filament style 3D printers are great, but typically are rather size limited. Laser sintering printers offer huge print beds, but also come with quarter million dollar price tags. What are we supposed to do? Well, thanks to OpenSLS, it might just be possible to turn your laser cutter into your very own SLS 3D printer.

We’ve covered OpenSLS a few times before, but it looks like it’s finally becoming a more polished (and usable) solution. A research article was just recently published on the Open-Source Selective Laser Sintering (OpenSLS0 of Nylon and Biocompatible Polycaprolactone (PDF) that goes over the design and construction of a powder handling module that drops right into a laser cutter.

The team has created the hardware to turn a laser cutter with a bed size of 60cm x 90cm into an SLS printer. The beauty? The majority of the hardware is laser cut which means you already have the means to convert your laser cutter into a 3D printer.

The design files are available on their GitHub. Hardware will likely cost you around $2000, which is peanuts compared to the commercial laser sintering printers.  There is tons of info in their article — too much for us to cover in a single post. If you end up building one, please let us know!

Posted in 3d Printer hacks, cnc hacks, Laser HacksTagged co2 laser sintering, OpenSLS, sls, SLS printer

June 2, 2014 by Brian Benchoff

[Andreas Bastian] has been working on a device that turns an off-the-shelf laser cutter into something capable of selective laser sintering of powdered plastics into 3D objects. He’s put in a lot of work, but now he gets to see the fruits of his labor: he’s successfully printed a few objects out of wax and powdered nylon.

Unlike just about every other inexpensive 3D printer, [Andreas]’ design doesn’t rely on either squirting plastic onto a bed or curing liquid resin with UV light. Instead, a fine layer of powder is spread over a build platform and melted with a laser. The melted layer drops down, another layer of powder is applied, and the cycle repeats until the part is finished. It’s a challenge to build one of these machines, but [Andreas] had the great idea of retrofitting an off-the-shelf laser cutter, allowing him to focus on the difficult task of designing the powder and piston system.

It’s an extremely interesting project, and most of the custom parts are made from laser cut acrylic: easily cut to size on whatever laser cutter you’re retrofitting with 3D printing capability. There’s a lot of info over on the Wiki, and a few videos showing the sintering process and powder distribution below.

Oh. One last note. [Andreas] developed this while at [Jordan Miller]’s amazing lab at Rice University. There’s a lot of interesting things happening at this Advanced Manufacturing Research Institute, including bioprinting, DLP resin printers, and using inkjets for cell cultures. Check out this post for a great talk at the Midwest RepRap Festival.

Continue reading “Turning A Laser Cutter Into A 3D Printer With OpenSLS” →

Posted in 3d Printer hacksTagged OpenSLS, selective laser sintering, sls

The Top SLS 3D Printers in 2022

Published on July 14, 2022 by Niru K.

Selective laser sintering – or SLS – technology is based on the fusion of a plastic powder using a laser. Historically, the process was relatively inaccessible because the machines remained expensive and quite hard to comprehend. But in recent years, the market for SLS 3D printers has opened up, with several so-called desktop solutions that facilitate the integration of additive manufacturing. Today, SLS is widely used by the automotive, consumer goods, design and medical industries. More materials have also been developed – like the classic PA11, PA12, TPU or even PP. In any case, the process is prized by many professionals and manufacturers, which is why today, we are taking a closer look at the main SLS 3D printers on the market: Who are the manufacturers behind these solutions and what features do the devices have? The machines, both desktop and industrial, are listed in alphabetical order.

Desktop SLS 3D Printers

Fuse 1 – Formlabs

Founded in the United States in 2011, Formlabs develops professional 3D printers at affordable prices. The company became known for its stereolithography solutions, but since 2017 it has announced its entry into the powder sintering market, which it made a reality in early 2021 with the launch of the SLS Fuse 1 3D printer. This machine is capable of printing nylon (PA12 and PA11) parts with a minimum layer thickness of 0.1 mm and a maximum print volume of 165 x 165 x 320 mm. With a relatively low price, it offers users the possibility to manufacture and produce prototypes within their own company. Since this initial successful launch, Formlabs has announced a second SLS 3D printer, the Fuse 1+ 30W, which is intended to be faster but also compatible with carbon fiber-filled nylon.

Gravity – Wematter

Wematter is a Swedish manufacturer that has developed a desktop SLS 3D printer called Gravity. Thanks to its compact design, it fits perfectly into any working environment and is CE marked for use in an office, laboratory, workshop, or hospital. Gravity offers a print volume of 300 x 300 x 300 mm and a speed of 12 mm per hour. It is equipped with a touch screen and a HEPA air filtration system to guarantee a certain level of safety for the user. The user can also count on optimized management of materials (PA11 and PA12) thanks to a patented system that allows to store and recycle the powder directly inside the machine. Finally, you should know that this 3D SLS printer can be accompanied by a complementary machine, Atmosphere, which controls the interior of the printing chamber in order to improve the final properties of the parts.

Lisa Pro – Sinterit

Sinterit is a company founded in Poland in 2014, which is specialized in the development of SLS 3D printers. In 2015, the company introduced its first desktop solution with SLS technology called Lisa. In the new and updated version of the printer, Lisa Pro, Sinterit added new features. It incorporates a new nitrogen atmosphere system in the chamber, which prevents oxidation in the printing process and thus improves the quality of the printed parts. In terms of materials, it offers compatibility with two polyamides, four elastomers, and polypropylene, in addition to PA12 Smooth and PA11 Onyx. It uses a 5W diode laser and its printing volume is 73% higher, reaching 150 x 200 x 260 mm. Besides that, it features Sinterit Studio: An integrated software that helps the user with the printing process. This printer model is perfect for the most demanding users who need higher print volumes or nitrogen atmosphere. 

S2 – Sintratec

Sintratec is the leading manufacturer of 3D printers in Switzerland and is specialized in the development and production of SLS 3D printers. The Sintratec S2 features automated processes and 3 modules: the laser sintering station (LSS), which consists of 8 heating zones allowing for high-quality surface finishing, the material core unit (MCU), and the material handling station (MHS). It also has an integrated 4K camera for remote 3D printing observation and a large touch screen for intuitive control of the printing process. The maximum print volume is 160 x 160 x 400 mm and it is compatible with materials such as PA12 and TPE. This all-in-one solution by Sintratec reduces downtime and allows for quick material changes and cleaning. 

SnowWhite 2 – Sharebot

SnowWhite 2 is a professional 3D printer that uses laser sintering technology, aiming the laser automatically at points in space and binding the material together to create a high resistance solid structure. Released in summer 2020, this machine was developed by an Italian manufacturer Sharebot, and is a new and upgraded version of its SnowWhite 3D printer. Due to its CO₂ laser, SnowWhite 2 can use multiple thermoplastic powders, such as PA12 and TPU, and it also supports special powders loaded with other material particles, like aluminum, glass, or carbon. In addition, SnowWhite2 has an upgraded software interface that includes custom print profiles and open parameters. This SLS machine uses the Simplify3D slicer software, and can be connected via Ethernet.

Industrial SLS 3D printers

403P series – Farsoon

The Farsoon 403P Series is an industrial SLS 3D printer made by Farsoon, a manufacturer based in China. The Farsoon 403P Series offers 4 different configurations: the FS403P, HS403P, SS403P and the HT403P. The four versions have certain different properties, such as the maximum chamber temperature and the 3D volume build rate. The Farsoon 403P Series 3D printers are equipped with an 8-zone heater intelligent temperature control system and high precision embedded 3D scanners for quality 3D prints. This industrial 3D printing solution combines scan speed of up to 15.2 m/s with a high efficiency roller system and convenient removable powder cartridge system, thus offering increased productivity and lower price per part.

EP-P3850 – Eplus3D 

The EP-P3850 was originally released and marketed by Chinese manufacturer Shining 3D, until its subsidiary Eplus3D, which was responsible for creating most of Shining 3D industrial printers, became an independent brand of its own. The EP-3850, already one of the main SLS 3D printers under the former brand, is a multifunctional SLS 3D printer for a variety of purposes. The machine uses a laser as a power source for sintering materials, which include nylon, polypropylene or TPU, among others. The device features an integrated, removable forming cylinder to increase manufacturing efficiency while reducing waiting time. The machine is compatible with Windows 7 operating system; its maximum construction volume is 380x380x500 mm and has a layer thickness between 0.08 and 0.3 mm. The EP-P3850 is a 3D printer very suitable for many applications, including the automotive industry. 


MfgPro236 xS – XYZPrinting

Until a few years ago, Asian manufacturer XYZPrinting focused mainly on the development of machines based on FDM technology. In 2017, it turned its activity around and decided to open up to the industrial additive manufacturing market, thus launching its MfgPro product range, based on powder bed technologies. From that product range, we highlight the MfgPro236 xS 3D printer, an industrial solution aimed at aerospace and automotive professionals, and anyone else requiring advanced prototyping. With a maximum manufacturing volume of 230 x 230 x 250 mm, this SLS 3D printer weighs 425kg and is compatible with XYZprint AM and Buildware software. On the technical side, the machine integrates an internal gas control system and a 60W CO2 fusion laser. In short, it is ideal for those industries seeking to develop end-use parts with high mechanical performance.

P810 – EOS

You have almost certainly heard of EOS. The German 3D printer manufacturer has been in the industry for almost 30 years and is a mainstay in industrial 3D printing focusing notably of polymer and metal laser powder bed fusion. Previously, we have highlighted the P500, an SLS industrial 3D Printer that is capable of printing with complex materials such as PEKK and is capable of printing at speeds of up to 0. 6m/s. However, with this latest update of our ranking of SLS 3D printers, we want to highlight one of the new machines from the company, the EOS P 810. The EOS P 810 is an SLS 3D printer with a build volume of 700 x 380 x 380 mm (27.6 x 15 x 15 in) that is precise and quick. The printer is designed to create parts out of polyetherketoneketone (PEKK) filled with carbon fiber, HT-23. The combination of one of the strongest polymers along with 23% Carbon Fiber, allows for parts with an excellent strength and low weight that are able to withstand high temperatures. Not to mention, the material is flame-retardant and UV-resistant and meets both aerospace (FAR 25.853) and mobility (EN 45545) standards. The company claims that the machine is the first 3D printing system that can be used for series production of demanding composite parts.

ProMaker P1000 S – Prodways

The ProMaker P1000 S is an industrial 3D printer based on laser powder sintering technology. It was developed by the French manufacturer PRODWAYS, which specializes in industrial and professional 3D printing. The large build platform and a maximum speed of 1.4 l/h of the ProMaker P1000 S allow mass production of parts at an affordable cost. The printer is therefore ideal for entry-level industrial production using SLS technology, as it offers the lowest price-to-volume ratio in its class. It is also equipped with a Raylase brand scanner and a high-quality 30 W laser and has a so-called “slicing on the fly” function that allows production to be changed at any time.

QLS 820 by NEXA3D 

The QLS- 3D printer series was originally created by NXT factory, which developed the innovative Quantum Laser Sintering (QLS) technology. When California-based NEXA3D took over NXT Factory, it continued the high-quality series, of which the QLS 820 is the most prolific device. The 820 relies on the QLS technology, which allows it to additively manufacture polymer parts very quickly. According to the manufacturer, this system is 4x faster than other SLS technologies, printing at a speed of 4200 cubic cm per hour, and offering a build volume of 350 x 350 x 400 mm. Additionally, the Z resolution on this system is 50-200 microns. Developed to compete with injection molding technologies, this system can work with engineering plastics such as nylon or PC and operate 24/7 thanks to its fully automated capabilities. 

S100 – Sindoh

The Sindoh S100 is a fully open and flexible polymer laser sintering system that offers ease of operation and maintenance, as well as offered material packages and remote maintenance features. The printer is the first commercially available machine to feature Materialise’s latest innovative process technology, Bluesint PA12. Using this technology, almost 100% of the powder can be reused to produce new parts, which is not possible with most other printers. As a result, the Sindoh S100 dramatically increases the resource efficiency of laser sintering.

sPro 230 – 3D Systems

As you can imagine, American 3D printing giant 3D Systems has multiple SLS 3D printers available through its ProX and sPro lines. For this updated list of SLS 3D printers for 2022, we want to turn your attention specifically to the sPro 230. This large capacity SLS printer has been designed for the production of tough and durable thermoplastic parts. The machine is compatible with both durable nylon and composite materials such as nylon 11 and 12. With a build volume of 550 x 550 x 750 mm, users would be able to make both large parts in one piece (up to 30 in/750 mm long) or produce 3D printed small to medium-size parts in volume. Additionally, the machine has a number of exciting features such as automated 3D part nesting.

What do you think of our selection of SLS 3D printers? Let us know in a comment below or on our LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter pages! Don’t forget to sign up for our free weekly Newsletter here, the latest 3D printing news straight to your inbox! You can also find all our videos on our YouTube channel.

Prodways SLS 3D Printer Applications in Automotive and Robotics

Through its partnership with Prodways, Namitech is a successful and dynamic 3D printing and 3D equipment service provider in Italy.

Namitech is a young organization founded in 2017 and located near the city of Bergamo, one of the richest centers of economic growth in Europe. With a fleet of high performance 3D printers , Namitech works closely with industrial companies to help them optimize their manufacturing processes. Andrea Invernizzi, Matteo Gelpi and Francesco Giumelli, the founders of Namitech, aim to increase the productivity of partner enterprises, prepare them for the "fourth industrial revolution" and help them adapt to the changes that the industry will face in the near future.

As part of its goal, the company is gradually introducing additive manufacturing systems to industrial plants and demonstrating the economic benefits that can be derived from the use of 3D printing technologies. Partner and supplier of Namitech equipment is Prodways , a French manufacturer of industrial 3D printers using selective plastic powder laser sintering (SLS) technology.

ProMaker Series SLS 3D Printers

Namitech chose Prodways' ProMaker P1000 SLS 3D Printer as a high performance, competitively priced industrial 3D printer. Designed and manufactured in France in 2016, this 3D printer is reliable and shows consistent 3D printing results with a wide range of plastic powders.

“We knew immediately that we had made the right decision, and we were right: eight months after the launch of the first printer, we ordered a second installation,” says Francesco Giumelli. “Our choice was predetermined by the impressive print area, as well as the ability to independently configure all printer operation parameters depending on the specific tasks of customers. This allowed us to significantly increase the quality of our work, in particular, to achieve better results in terms of printing accuracy - the tolerance level has changed from 0.3 mm to 0.1 mm.”

The maximum number of powders supported by one Prodways SLS 3D printer is 12. Namitech currently uses 5 plastics - PA 12, PA 6, PA11 GF, PP, TPU (Shore hardness - 70A). At the same time, the printer park includes 3 SLS-installations - two ProMaker P1000 printers and one ProMaker P4500 HT printer for growing large-sized products from refractory plastics. The next planned purchase is the ProMaker P1000X 3D printer, which is 2x faster than the ProMaker P1000.

The accessories supplied by Prodways are also important. “In order to keep our printers running 24/7, we purchased external cooling systems for the grown products,” continues Francesco. “The easy-to-use sieving station and mixer give us the ability to quickly change out our used plastic powder and start a new work session.”

One of the most interesting features of Namitech's experience is the company's ability to build a sustainable business model, even with significant investments. Like any other industrial equipment, 3D printers gradually lose their value during their operation; however, in Italy, their acquisition is being stimulated by the government's Industry 4. 0 development plan, which has offered significant depreciation and tax incentives in recent years.

Working directly with a trusted supplier like Prodways also brings a number of benefits. “We know that we can rely on a serious partner with our own vision of growth prospects and promotion of the product in the world markets. At the same time, we are able to provide our customers with all the necessary support and assistance,” says Francesco.

Prodways SLS 3D Printer Experience in Automotive

BMW G310 T 9 Motorcycle Prototype 3D Printed0013

The automotive industry is one of the first industries to recognize the benefits of 3D printing in production. Technologies that today play a key role in the creation of prototypes, limited edition products, discontinued spare parts, and customized fixtures and tools.

Namitech has been selected by the European Institute of Design in Milan as a partner company for the joint implementation of the "BMW Motorrad 2. 0" project. The task was to produce components for a BMW G310 T prototype motorcycle.

Thanks to an open plastic powder selection system that allows Prodways 3D printer to use from 10 excellent print materials, the company's specialists were able to grow all the necessary components using one SLS machine. The variety of powders used has ensured that the parts produced meet various thermal, mechanical and even aesthetic requirements.

Moreover, Namitech specialists carried out post-processing work on 3D printer prototypes (painting, metal plating, etc.) and thus provided the customer with a completely finished product.

Experience in using 3D printer ProdWays in robotics

3D 3d-to-beams of the seizure module E.Do

Merit level-+/- 0.1 mm

Print material-PA12-L 1600

0 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000

Capacity - 180 units per day

Сomau is a world leader in the production of automated equipment. The company's latest development is the integrated open source multi-axis robot e.DO, designed to make learning, research and programming more interactive.

For this project, Namitech produced a gripper module that fits on the "wrist" of the e.DO robot. Using specially selected printing parameters of the Prodways 3D printer, the Namitech team achieved a growth accuracy of 0.1 mm, thus improving the standard figure of 0.3 mm. This ensured the correct operation and movement of all components of the capture module. In addition, high performance0005 SLS-system allowed the daily production of 180 prefabricated modules.

All about 3D printing. additive manufacturing. Basic concepts.

  • 1 Technology
  • 2 Terminology
  • 3 Fundamentals
  • 4 Printing Technologies
  • 5 3D printers
  • 6 Application
  • 7 Domestic and hobby use
  • 8 Clothes
  • 9 3D bioprinting
  • 10 3D printing of implants and medical devices
  • 11 3D printing services
  • 12 Research into new applications
  • 13 Intellectual property
  • 14 The impact of 3D printing
  • 15 Space research
  • 16 Social change
  • 17 Firearms


Charles Hull - the father of modern 3D printing
3D printing is based on the concept of building an object in successive layers that display the contours of the model. In fact, 3D printing is the complete opposite of traditional mechanical production and processing methods such as milling or cutting, where the appearance of the product is formed by removing excess material (so-called "subtractive manufacturing").
3D printers are computer-controlled machines that build parts in an additive way. Although 3D printing technology appeared in the 80s of the last century, 3D printers were widely used commercially only in the early 2010s. The first viable 3D printer was created by Charles Hull, one of the founders of 3D Systems Corporation. At the beginning of the 21st century, there was a significant increase in sales, which led to a sharp drop in the cost of devices. According to the consulting firm Wohlers Associates, the global market for 3D printers and related services reached $2.2 billion in 2012, growing by 29%.% compared to 2011.
3D printing technologies are used for prototyping and distributed manufacturing in architecture, construction, industrial design, automotive, aerospace, military, engineering and medical industries, bioengineering (to create artificial fabrics), fashion and footwear, jewelry, education, geographic information systems, food industry and many other areas. According to research, open source home 3D printers will allow you to win back the capital costs of your own purchase through the economy of household production of items.


Additive manufacturing involves the construction of objects by adding the necessary material, and not by removing excess, as is the case with subtractive methods
The term "additive manufacturing" refers to the technology of creating objects by applying successive layers material. Models made using the additive method can be used at any stage of production - both for the production of prototypes (so-called rapid prototyping) and as finished products themselves (so-called rapid production).
In manufacturing, especially machining, the term "subtractive" implies more traditional methods and is a retronym coined in recent years to distinguish between traditional methods and new additive methods. Although traditional manufacturing has used essentially "additive" methods for centuries (such as riveting, welding, and screwing), they lack a 3D information technology component. Machining, on the other hand, (the production of parts of an exact shape), as a rule, is based on subtractive methods - filing, milling, drilling and grinding.
The term "stereolithography" was defined by Charles Hull in a 1984 patent as "a system for generating three-dimensional objects by layering".


3D printed models

3D models are created by hand-held computer graphic design or 3D scanning. Hand modeling, or the preparation of geometric data for the creation of 3D computer graphics, is somewhat like sculpture. 3D scanning is the automatic collection and analysis of data from a real object, namely shape, color and other characteristics, with subsequent conversion into a digital three-dimensional model.
Both manual and automatic creation of 3D printed models can be difficult for the average user. In this regard, 3D printed marketplaces have become widespread in recent years. Some of the more popular examples include Shapeways, Thingiverse, and Threeding.
3D printing

The following digital models are used as drawings for 3D printed objects , powder, paper or sheet material, building a 3D model from a series of cross sections. These layers, corresponding to virtual cross-sections in the CAD model, are connected or fused together to create an object of a given shape. The main advantage of this method is the ability to create geometric shapes of almost unlimited complexity.
"Resolution" of the printer means the thickness of the applied layers (Z axis) and the accuracy of positioning the print head in the horizontal plane (along the X and Y axes). Resolution is measured in DPI (dots per inch) or micrometers (the obsolete term is "micron"). Typical layer thicknesses are 100µm (250 DPI), although some devices like the Objet Connex and 3D Systems ProJet are capable of printing layers as thin as 16µm (1600 DPI). The resolution on the X and Y axes is similar to that of conventional 2D laser printers. A typical particle size is about 50-100µm (510 to 250 DPI) in diameter.

One of the methods for obtaining a digital model is 3D scanning. Pictured here is a MakerBot Digitizer
3D Scanner Building a model using modern technology takes hours to days, depending on the method used and the size and complexity of the model. Industrial additive systems can typically reduce the time to a few hours, but it all depends on the type of plant, as well as the size and number of models produced at the same time.
Traditional manufacturing methods such as injection molding can be cheaper for large-scale production of polymer products, but additive manufacturing has advantages for small-scale production, allowing for higher production rates and design flexibility, along with increased cost per unit produced. In addition, desktop 3D printers allow designers and developers to create concept models and prototypes without leaving the office.

FDM Type 3D Printers
Although the resolution of the printers is sufficient for most projects, printing slightly oversized objects and then subtractively machining them with high precision tools allows you to create models of increased accuracy.
The LUMEX Avance-25 is an example of devices with a similar combined manufacturing and processing method. Some additive manufacturing methods allow for the use of multiple materials, as well as different colors, within a single production run. Many of the 3D printers use "supports" or "supports" during printing. Supports are needed to build model fragments that are not in contact with the underlying layers or the working platform. The supports themselves are not part of the given model, and upon completion of printing, they either break off (in the case of using the same material as for printing the model itself), or dissolve (usually in water or acetone - depending on the material used to create the supports). ).

Printing technologies

Since the late 1970s, several 3D printing methods have come into being. The first printers were large, expensive and very limited.

Complete skull with supports not yet removed

A wide variety of additive manufacturing methods are now available. The main differences are in the layering method and consumables used. Some methods rely on melting or softening materials to create layers: these include selective laser sintering (SLS), selective laser melting (SLM), direct metal laser sintering (DMLS), fusing deposition printing (FDM or FFF). Another trend has been the production of solid models by polymerization of liquid materials, known as stereolithography (SLA).
In the case of lamination of sheet materials (LOM), thin layers of material are cut to the required contour, and then joined into a single whole. Paper, polymers and metals can be used as LOM materials. Each of these methods has its own advantages and disadvantages, which is why some companies offer a choice of consumables for building a model - polymer or powder. LOM printers often use regular office paper to build durable prototypes. The key points when choosing the right device are the speed of printing, the price of a 3D printer, the cost of printed prototypes, as well as the cost and range of compatible consumables.

Printers that produce full-fledged metal models are quite expensive, but it is possible to use less expensive devices for the production of molds and subsequent casting of metal parts.
The main methods of additive manufacturing are presented in the table:

Method Technology Materials used
Extrusion Fused deposition modeling (FDM or FFF) Thermoplastics (such as polylactide (PLA), acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), etc. )
Wire Manufacture of arbitrary shapes by electron beam fusing (EBFȝ) Virtually all metal alloys
Powder Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) Virtually all metal alloys
Electron Beam Melting (EBM) Titanium alloys
Selective laser melting (SLM) Titanium alloys, cobalt-chromium alloys, stainless steel, aluminum
Selective heat sintering (SHS) Powder thermoplastics
Selective laser sintering (SLS) Thermoplastics, metal powders, ceramic powders
Inkjet 3D Inkjet(3DP) Gypsum, plastics, metal powders, sand mixtures
Lamination Lamination Object Manufacturing (LOM) Paper, metal foil, plastic film
Polymerization Stereolithography (SLA) Photopolymers
Digital LED projection (DLP) Photopolymers

Extrusion Printing

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM/FFF) was developed by S. Scott Trump in the late 1980s and commercialized in the 1990s by Stratasys, which Trump is credited as one of the founders. Due to the expiration of the patent, there is a large community of open source 3D printer developers as well as commercial organizations using the technology. As a consequence, the cost of devices has decreased by two orders of magnitude since the invention of the technology.
3D printers range from simple do-it-yourself printers to plastic...
Fusion printing process involves the creation of layers by extrusion of a fast-curing material in the form of microdrops or thin jets. Typically, consumable material (such as thermoplastic) comes in the form of spools from which the material is fed into a printhead called an "extruder". The extruder heats the material to its melting temperature, followed by extrusion of the molten mass through a nozzle. The extruder itself is driven by stepper motors or servomotors to position the print head in three planes. The movement of the extruder is controlled by a manufacturing software (CAM) linked to a microcontroller.
A variety of polymers are used as consumables, including acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), polycarbonate (PC), polylactide (PLA), high pressure polyethylene (HDPE), polycarbonate-ABS blends, polyphenylene sulfone (PPSU), etc. Typically, polymer supplied in the form of a filler made of pure plastic. There are several projects in the 3D printing enthusiast community that aim to recycle used plastic into materials for 3D printing. The projects are based on the production of consumables using shredders and melters.

FDM/FFF technology has certain limitations on the complexity of the generated geometric shapes. For example, the creation of suspended structures (such as stalactites) is impossible by itself, due to the lack of necessary support. This limitation is compensated by the creation of temporary support structures that are removed after printing is completed.
Powder print

One of the additive manufacturing methods is selective sintering of powder materials. Model layers are drawn (sintered) in a thin layer of powdered material, after which the work platform is lowered and a new layer of powder is applied. The process is repeated until a complete model is obtained. The unused material remains in the working chamber and serves to support the overhanging layers without requiring the creation of special supports.

The most common methods are based on laser sintering: selective laser sintering (SLS) for working with metals and polymers (e.g. polyamide (PA), glass fiber reinforced polyamide (PA-GF), glass fiber (GF), polyetheretherketone) (PEEK), polystyrene (PS), alumide, carbon fiber reinforced polyamide (Carbonmide), elastomers) and direct metal laser sintering (DMLS).
... to expensive industrial plants that work with metals
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) was developed and patented by Carl Deckard and Joseph Beeman of the University of Texas at Austin in the mid 1080s under the auspices of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). A similar method was patented by R. F. Householder in 1979, but has not been commercialized.

Selective laser melting (SLM) is characterized by the fact that it does not sinter, but actually melts the powder at the points of contact with a powerful laser beam, allowing you to create high-density materials that are similar in terms of mechanical characteristics to products made by traditional methods.

Electron beam melting (EBM) is a similar method for the additive manufacturing of metal parts (eg titanium alloys) but using electron beams instead of lasers. EBM is based on melting metal powders layer by layer in a vacuum chamber. In contrast to sintering at temperatures below melting thresholds, models made by electron beam melting are characterized by solidity with a corresponding high strength.

Finally, there is the 3D inkjet printing method. In this case, a binder is applied to thin layers of powder (gypsum or plastic) in accordance with the contours of successive layers of the digital model. The process is repeated until the finished model is obtained. The technology provides a wide range of applications, including the creation of color models, suspended structures, the use of elastomers. The design of models can be strengthened by subsequent impregnation with wax or polymers.


FDM 3D printers are the most popular among hobbyists and enthusiasts
Some printers use paper as a material for building models, thereby reducing the cost of printing. Such devices experienced the peak of popularity in the 1990s. The technology consists in cutting out the layers of the model from paper using a carbon dioxide laser with simultaneous lamination of the contours to form the finished product.

In 2005, Mcor Technologies Ltd developed a variant of the technology that uses plain office paper, a tungsten carbide blade instead of a laser, and selective adhesive application.

There are also device variants that laminate thin metal and plastic sheets.


3D printing allows you to create functional monolithic parts of complex geometric shapes, like this jet engine nozzle
Stereolithography technology was patented by Charles Hull in 1986. Photopolymerization is primarily used in stereolithography (SLA) to create solid objects from liquid materials. This method differs significantly from previous attempts, from the sculptural portraits of François Willem (1830-1905) to photopolymerization by the Matsubara method (1974).

The Digital Projection Method (DLP) uses liquid photopolymer resins that are cured by exposure to ultraviolet light emitted from digital projectors in a coated working chamber. After the material has hardened, the working platform is immersed to a depth equal to the thickness of one layer, and the liquid polymer is irradiated again. The procedure is repeated until the completion of the model building. An example of a rapid prototyping system using digital LED projectors is the EnvisionTEC Perfactory.

Inkjet printers (eg Objet PolyJet) spray thin layers (16-30µm) of photopolymer onto the build platform until a complete model is obtained. Each layer is irradiated with an ultraviolet beam until hardened. The result is a model ready for immediate use. The gel-like support material used to support the components of geometrically complex models is removed after the model has been handcrafted and washed. The technology allows the use of elastomers.

Ultra-precise detailing of models can be achieved using multiphoton polymerization. This method is reduced to drawing the contours of a three-dimensional object with a focused laser beam. Due to non-linear photoexcitation, the material solidifies only at the focusing points of the laser beam. This method makes it easy to achieve resolutions above 100 µm, as well as build complex structures with moving and interacting parts.

Another popular method is curing with LED projectors or "projection stereolithography".

Projection stereolithography

This method involves dividing a 3D digital model into horizontal layers, converting each layer into a 2D projection similar to photomasks. The 2D images are projected onto successive layers of photopolymer resin that harden according to the projected contours.

In some systems, the projectors are located at the bottom, helping to level the surface of the photopolymer material when the model moves vertically (in this case, the build platform with the applied layers moves up, rather than sinking into the material) and reduces the production cycle to minutes instead of hours.

The technology allows you to create models with layers of several materials with different curing rates.

Some commercial models, such as the Objet Connex, apply resin using small nozzles.

3D printers

Industrial plants

Industrial adoption of additive manufacturing is proceeding at a rapid pace. For example, US-Israeli joint venture Stratasys supplies $2,000 to $500,000 additive manufacturing machines, while General Electric uses high-end machines to produce gas turbine parts.
Home appliances

LOM takes papier-mâché to the next level The development of 3D printers for home use is being pursued by a growing number of companies and enthusiasts. Most of the work is done by amateurs for their own and public needs, with help from the academic community and hackers.

The oldest and longest running project in the desktop 3D printer category is RepRap. The RepRap project aims to create free and open source (FOSH) 3D printers provided under the GNU General Public License. RepRap devices are capable of printing custom-designed plastic components that can be used to build clones of the original device. Individual RepRap devices have been successfully applied to the production of printed circuit boards and metal parts.

Due to open access to drawings of RepRap printers, many of the projects adopt the technical solutions of analogues, thus creating a semblance of an ecosystem consisting mostly of freely modifiable devices. The wide availability of open source designs only encourages variations. On the other hand, there is a significant variation in the level of quality and complexity of both the designs themselves and the devices manufactured on their basis. The rapid development of open source 3D printers is leading to a rise in popularity and the emergence of public and commercial portals (such as Thingiverse or Cubify) offering a variety of printable 3D designs. In addition, the development of technology contributes to the sustainable development of local economies through the possibility of using locally available materials for the production of printers.
Stereolithographic 3D printers are often used in dental prosthetics

The cost of 3D printers has been declining at a significant rate since about 2010: devices that cost $20,000 at the time are now $1,000 or less. Many companies and individual developers are already offering budget RepRap kits under $500. The Fab@Home open source project has led to the development of general purpose printers capable of printing anything that can be squeezed through a nozzle, from chocolate to silicone putty and chemicals.
Printers based on this design have been available as kits since 2012 for around $2,000. Some 3D printers, including the mUVe 3D and Lumifold, are designed to be as affordable as possible from the start, with the Peachy Printer priced around $100. .
Professional Kickstarter funded printers often perform well: Rapide 3D printers are quiet and fumes free at $1499. 3D Doodler's '3D Printing Pen' Raised $2.3M in Kickstarter donations, with a selling price of $99 for the device itself. True, it is difficult to call the 3D Doodler a full-fledged 3D printer.

3D Systems Cube is a popular consumer 3D printer

As prices fall, 3D printers are becoming more attractive for home production. In addition, home use of 3D printing technologies can reduce the environmental footprint of industry by reducing the volume of consumables and the energy and fuel costs of transporting materials and goods.

Parallel to the creation of home 3D-printing devices, the development of devices for processing household waste into printed materials, the so-called. Recyclebot. For example, the commercial model Filastrucer was designed to recycle plastic waste (shampoo bottles, milk containers) into inexpensive consumables for RepRap printers. Such methods of household disposal are not only practical, but also have a positive impact on the ecological situation.

The development and customization of RepRap 3D printers has created a new category of semi-professional printers for small businesses. Manufacturers such as Solidoodle, RoBo and RepRapPro offer kits for under $1,000. The accuracy of these devices is between industrial and consumer printers. Recently, high-performance printers using a delta-shaped coordinate system, or the so-called "delta robots", are gaining popularity. Some companies offer software to support printers made by other companies.


The use of LED projectors helps reduce the cost of stereolithography printers. Pictured DLP printer Nova

3D printing allows you to equalize the cost of production of one part and mass production, which threatens large-scale economies. The impact of 3D printing may be similar to the introduction of manufacture. In the 1450s, no one could predict the consequences of the printing press, in the 1750s, no one took the steam engine seriously, and transistors 19The 50s seemed like a curious innovation. But the technology continues to evolve and is likely to have an impact on every scientific and industrial branch with which it comes into contact.

The earliest application of additive manufacturing can be considered rapid prototyping, aimed at reducing the development time of new parts and devices compared to earlier subtractive methods (too slow and expensive). The improvement of additive manufacturing technologies leads to their spread in various fields of science and industry. The production of parts previously only available through machining is now possible through additive methods, and at a better price.
Applications include breadboarding, prototyping, molding, architecture, education, mapping, healthcare, retail, etc.
Industrial applications:
Rapid prototyping: Industrial 3D printers have been used for rapid prototyping and research since the early 1980s . As a rule, these are quite large installations using powder metals, sand mixtures, plastics and paper. Such devices are often used by universities and commercial companies.

Advances in rapid prototyping have led to the creation of materials suitable for the production of final products, which in turn has contributed to the development of 3D production of finished products as an alternative to traditional methods. One of the advantages of fast production is the relatively low cost of manufacturing small batches.

Rapid production: Rapid production remains a fairly new technique whose possibilities have not yet been fully explored. Nevertheless, many experts tend to consider rapid production a new level of technology. Some of the most promising areas for rapid prototyping to adapt to rapid manufacturing are selective laser sintering (SLS) and direct metal sintering (DMLS).
Bulk customization: Some companies offer services for customizing objects using simplified software and then creating unique custom 3D models. One of the most popular areas was the manufacture of cell phone cases. In particular, Nokia has made publicly available the designs of its phone cases for user customization and 3D printing.
Mass production: The current low print speed of 3D printers limits their use in mass production. To combat this shortcoming, some FDM devices are equipped with multiple extruders, allowing you to print different colors, different polymers, and even create several models at the same time. In general, this approach increases productivity without requiring the use of multiple printers - a single microcontroller is enough to operate multiple printheads.

Devices with multiple extruders allow the creation of several identical objects from only one digital model, but at the same time allow the use of different materials and colors. The print speed increases in proportion to the number of print heads. In addition, certain energy savings are achieved through the use of a common working chamber, which often requires heating. Together, these two points reduce the cost of the process.

Many printers are equipped with dual printheads, however this configuration is only used for printing single models in different colors and materials.

Consumer and hobby use

Today, consumer 3D printing mainly attracts the attention of enthusiasts and hobbyists, while practical use is quite limited. However, 3D printers have already been used to print working mechanical clocks, woodworking gears, jewelry, and more. Home 3D printing websites often offer designs for hooks, doorknobs, massage tools, and more.

3D printing is also being used in hobby veterinary medicine and zoology – in 2013, a 3D printed prosthesis allowed a duckling to stand up, and hermit crabs love stylish 3D printed shells. 3D printers are widely used for the domestic production of jewelry - necklaces, rings, handbags, etc.

The Fab@Home open project aims to develop general purpose home printers. The devices have been tested in research environments using the latest 3D printing technologies for the production of chemical compounds. The printer can print any material suitable for extrusion from a syringe in the form of a liquid or paste. The development is aimed at the possibility of home production of medicines and household chemicals in remote areas of residence.

Student project OpenReflex resulted in a design for an analog SLR camera suitable for 3D printing.


3D printing is gaining ground in the fashion world as couturiers use printers to experiment with swimwear, shoes and dresses. Commercial applications include rapid prototyping and 3D printing of professional athletic shoes - the Vapor Laser Talon for soccer players and New Balance for track and field athletes.

3D bioprinting

EBM titanium medical implants

3D printing is currently being researched by biotech companies and academic institutions. The research is aimed at exploring the possibility of using inkjet/drip 3D printing in tissue engineering to create artificial organs. The technology is based on the application of layers of living cells on a gel substrate or sugar matrix, with a gradual layer-by-layer build-up to create three-dimensional structures, including vascular systems. The first 3D tissue printing production system based on NovoGen bioprinting technology was introduced in 2009year. A number of terms are used to describe this research area: organ printing, bioprinting, computer tissue engineering, etc.

One of the pioneers of 3D printing, research company Organovo, conducts laboratory research and develops the production of functional 3D human tissue samples for use in medical and therapeutic research. For bioprinting, the company uses a NovoGen MMX 3D printer. Organovo believes that bioprinting will speed up the testing of new medicines before clinical trials, saving time and money invested in drug development. In the long term, Organovo hopes to adapt bioprinting technology for graft and surgical applications.

3D printing of implants and medical devices

3D printing is used to create implants and devices used in medicine. Successful surgeries include examples such as titanium pelvic and jaw implants and plastic tracheal splints. The most widespread use of 3D printing is expected in the production of hearing aids and dentistry. In March 2014, Swansea surgeons used 3D printing to reconstruct the face of a motorcyclist who was seriously injured in a road accident.

3D printing services

Some companies offer online 3D printing services available to individuals and industrial companies. The customer is required to upload a 3D design to the site, after which the model is printed using industrial installations. The finished product is either delivered to the customer or subject to pickup.

Exploring new applications

3D printing makes it possible to create fully functional metal products, including weapons.
Future applications of 3D printing may include the creation of open source scientific equipment for use in open laboratories and other scientific applications - fossil reconstruction in paleontology, the creation of duplicates of priceless archaeological artifacts, the reconstruction of bones and body parts for forensics, the reconstruction of heavily damaged evidence collected from crime scenes. The technology is also being considered for application in construction.

In 2005, academic journals began to publish materials on the possibility of using 3D printing technologies in art. In 2007, the Wall Street Journal and Time magazine included 3D design in their list of the 100 most significant achievements of the year. The Victoria and Albert Museum at the London Design Festival in 2011 presented an exhibition by Murray Moss entitled "Industrial Revolution 2.0: how the material world materializes again", dedicated to 3D printing technologies.

In 2012, a University of Glasgow pilot project showed that 3D printing could be used to produce chemical compounds, including hitherto unknown ones. The project printed chemical storage vessels into which “chemical ink” was injected using additive machines and then reacted. The viability of the technology was proven by the production of new compounds, but a specific practical application was not pursued during the experiment. Cornell Creative Machines has confirmed the feasibility of creating food products using hydrocolloid 3D printing. Professor Leroy Cronin of the University of Glasgow has suggested using "chemical ink" to print medicines.

The use of 3D scanning technologies makes it possible to create replicas of real objects without the use of casting methods, which are expensive, difficult to perform and can have a destructive effect in cases of precious and fragile objects of cultural heritage.

An additional example of 3D printing technologies being developed is the use of additive manufacturing in construction. This could make it possible to accelerate the pace of construction while reducing costs. In particular, the possibility of using technology to build space colonies is being considered. For example, the Sinterhab project aims to explore the possibility of additive manufacturing of lunar bases using lunar regolith as the main building material. Instead of using binding materials, the possibility of microwave sintering of regolith into solid building blocks is being considered.

Additive manufacturing allows you to create waveguides, sleeves and bends in terahertz devices. The high geometric complexity of such products could not be achieved by traditional production methods. A commercially available professional EDEN 260V setup was used to create structures with a resolution of 100 microns. The printed structures were galvanized with gold to create a terahertz plasmonic apparatus.

China has allocated nearly $500 million. for the development of 10 national institutes for the development of 3D printing technologies. In 2013, Chinese scientists began printing living cartilage, liver and kidney tissue using specialized 3D bioprinters. Researchers at Hangzhou Dianqi University have even developed their own 3D bioprinter for this challenging task, dubbed Regenovo. One of Regenovo's developers, Xu Mingeng, said it takes less than an hour for the printer to produce a small sample of liver tissue or a four to five inch sample of ear cartilage. Xu predicts the emergence of the first full-fledged printed artificial organs within the next 10-20 years. That same year, researchers at the Belgian Hasselt University successfully printed a new jaw for an 83-year-old woman. After the implant is implanted, the patient can chew, talk and breathe normally.

In Bahrain, sandstone-like 3D printing has created unique structures to support coral growth and restore damaged reefs. These structures have a more natural shape than previously used structures and do not have the acidity of concrete.

Intellectual property

Section of liver tissue printed by Organovo, which is working to improve 3D printing technology for the production of artificial organs
3D printing has been around for decades, and many aspects of the technology are subject to patents, copyrights, and trademark protection. However, from a legal point of view, it is not entirely clear how intellectual property protection laws will be applied in practice if 3D printers become widely used.
distribution and will be used in the household production of goods for personal use, non-commercial use or for sale.

Any of the protective measures may negatively affect the distribution of designs used in 3D printing or the sale of printed products. The use of protected technologies may require the permission of the owner, which in turn will require the payment of royalties.

Patents cover certain processes, devices, and materials. The duration of patents varies from country to country.

Often, copyright extends to the expression of ideas in the form of material objects and lasts for the life of the author, plus 70 years. Thus, if someone creates a statue and obtains copyright, it will be illegal to distribute designs for printing of an identical or similar statue.

Influence of 3D printing

Additive manufacturing requires manufacturing companies to be flexible and constantly improve available technologies in order to remain competitive. Advocates of additive manufacturing predict that the opposition between 3D printing and globalization will escalate as home production displaces trade in goods between consumers and large manufacturers. In reality, the integration of additive technologies into commercial production serves as a complement to traditional subtractive methods, rather than a complete replacement for the latter.

Space exploration

In 2010, work began on the application of 3D printing in zero gravity and low gravity. The main goal is to create hand tools and more complex devices "as needed" instead of using valuable cargo volume and fuel to deliver finished products to orbit.
Even NASA is interested in 3D printing
At the same time, NASA is conducting joint tests with Made in Space to assess the potential of 3D printing to reduce the cost and increase the efficiency of space exploration. Nasa's additive-manufactured rocket parts were successfully tested in July 2013, with two fuel injectors performing on par with conventionally produced parts during operational tests subjecting the parts to temperatures of around 3,300°C and high pressure levels. It is noteworthy that NASA is preparing to launch a 3D printer into space: the agency is going to demonstrate the possibility of creating spare parts directly in orbit, instead of expensive transportation from the ground.

Social change

The topic of social and cultural change as a result of the introduction of commercially available additive technologies has been discussed by writers and sociologists since the 1950s. One of the most interesting assumptions was the possible blurring of boundaries between everyday life and workplaces as a result of the massive introduction of 3D printers into the home. It also points to the ease of transferring digital designs, which, in combination with local production, will help reduce the need for global transportation. Finally, copyright protection may change to reflect the ease of additive manufacturing of many products.


In 2012, US company Defense Distributed released plans to create a "design of a functional plastic weapon that could be downloaded and played by anyone with access to a 3D printer." Defense Distributed has developed a 3D printed version of the receiver for the AR-15 rifle, capable of withstanding more than 650 shots, and a 30-round magazine for the M-16 rifle.

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