3-D Printer

3 Ways to Print in 3-D

The term “3-D printing” includes a number of different technologies, but they all rely on the same basic principle: building up an object by adding material layer by layer. The methods, which vary in cost, speed, accuracy, and materials, each have their own advantages.

Fused Deposition Modeling
Plastic filament is fed into a printer, melted, and deposited in layers, which harden. The process is suitable for an office, making this an ideal technology for desktop consumer printers.

Selective Laser Sintering
Fine powder, such as metal or plastic, is laid down, and a laser passes over it, selectively fusing it to the layer beneath. This allows a broad range of materials to be printed.

Stereolithography
A photosensitive liquid resin is exposed to a laser or ultraviolet light, which hardens it. The process is fast and can create high-resolution shapes, but yields objects with limited material strength.

Matthew Twombly and Alexander Stegmaier, NGM Staff
Source: Hod Lipson, Cornell University