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3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is a method of fabricating three-dimensional objects using a digital file. The process involves building up layers of material to create the final product. Each layer represents a cross-sectional slice of the object. This method allows for the creation of intricate shapes with minimal material waste when compared to traditional manufacturing methods.

3D printing is a category of manufacturing techniques that construct components by adding layers on top of each other. These techniques can vary in terms of the materials they use, the quality of the surface finish, the strength and durability of the final product, the speed of manufacturing, and the cost of production. There are seven primary types of 3D printing:

  1. Powder Bed Fusion (PBF): The powder bed fusion (PBF) method involves melting and fusing material powder utilizing either a laser or an electron beam. While electron beam melting (EBM) techniques require a vacuum, they can be used to produce operational components from various metals and alloys. In all PBF processes, the powder material is distributed over previous layers. Powder-based 3D printing is one of the most critical and commonly utilized forms of this technology.
  2. Binder Jetting (BJ): Binder jetting is a 3D printing process that involves applying a binding agent to thin layers of powdered material. The powdered material can be made of metal, such as stainless steel, or ceramic-based materials, like glass or gypsum. Binder jetting has various applications, including creating large sand casting cores and molds, producing low-cost 3D printed metal components, and making full-color prototypes like figurines.
  3. Directed Energy Deposition (DED): Direct energy deposition is a 3D printing technique that utilizes a laser and metal feedstock to fabricate parts. The feedstock, which can be in the form of wire or powder, and the laser are both positioned on a single print head, which dispenses and fuses the material simultaneously, in contrast to powder bed fusion. Although there are some differences and opportunities, the resulting components are very similar to those produced by Powder Bed Fusion.
  4. Material Extrusion (ME): Material extrusion is a type of additive manufacturing process that constructs 3D parts by layering thermoplastic or composite materials. The material is fed from a spool through a heated extrusion nozzle, which melts the material and deposits it in a formable state.
  5. Sheet lamination (SL): To manufacture an object using the Sheet Lamination (SL) 3D printing process, also known as Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM), multiple layers of foil-based material are stacked on top of each other. The operator then shapes each layer to fit the object’s cross-section using a knife or laser.
  6. VAT Photopolymerization (VPP): Photopolymerization is a 3D printing process that utilizes UV light to solidify photo-sensitive resin. This method is used in various 3D printing procedures, including Stereolithography (SLA), MultiJet printers, and 3D Digital Light Processing (DLP). The field of 3D printing is rapidly expanding in both academic and commercial research settings. Photopolymerization-based processes, which employ adaptable polymer chemistry, provide flexibility over the final properties of the materials compared to other 3D printing methods.
  7. Material Jetting (MJ): Material jetting is a 3D printing process that is comparable to a two-dimensional inkjet printer, as it produces objects. The process involves jetting material onto a build platform via a continuous or Drop on Demand (DOD) method. Once the material is jetted onto the build surface or platform, it solidifies and the model is constructed layer by layer. The material is deposited onto the build platform by a nozzle that moves horizontally, and the complexity of machines and how they control material deposition can vary. Finally, ultraviolet (UV) light is employed to cure or harden the material layers.

If you need more info about the 3D printing and 3D printing types, the advantages and disadvantages of each type, their applications, and how to simulate them in a FEM software like Abaqus, refer to this article:

3D CAE printing FEM Analysis | Abaqus Additive Manufacturing simulation

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