3D printing (or additive manufacturing) has exploded. While it hasn’t quite reached the heights that were once predicted, it has come a long way for such a relatively new technology, and it still has room to grow.
There are several types of 3D printing technologies out there, especially PolyJet and FDM as advanced by leading 3D printer manufacturer Stratasys. But how do you choose from all the 3D printing processes out there?
To assist in your decision-making process, answer these six questions:
What Is the Application?
What is the end-use of the product? What purpose will it serve? Do you need a lot of them or just a one-time creation?
What Is the Function?
What will the part actually do? Some parts need to bear loads and pressure, which means they require more robust materials. Some are purely aesthetic.
How Stable Does the Part Need to Be?
Where will the part function? If it’s in a high-temperature environment, that may exclude certain materials. If it is for the human body, it needs to be biocompatible. If it is an outdoor product, you’ll need a material that withstands UV rays.
How Durable Does It Need to Be?
How much pressure or stress will the product be exposed to? How much longevity do you need? Some materials are good for short-time use, while others are best for long periods of sustained use over time.
What Does It Need to Look Like?
Aesthetics matter to some, but not to others. You may need a certain look and feel for one part, but not for another. Some processes, like PolyJet, produce smooth parts straight from the machine. FDM often requires finishing processes to make parts look better.
What Is Your Budget?
What is your set budget and timeline? Your decision may depend on price more than value. Quickness also plays a role; the faster it needs to be created, the lower quality it’ll have (for the most part). You can still come up with a creative 3D printing solution that doesn’t sacrifice quality for value and vice-versa, depending on how you engineer your process.
Choosing the Right 3D Printing Process
You have a lot of choices for your 3D printing process, and a lot of opportunity and potential. Choosing the right one means answering the above questions and prioritizing them according to your needs and wishes.
Talk to Prototyping Solutions to learn more about selecting the right 3D printing process for your operations.