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3D Printing Options Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by [deleted]

3D Printing Options

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.


Our manufa­cturing industry generally – and 3D printing specif­ically – is driven by innova­tion. Indeed, key techno­logical develo­pments and new applic­ations in indust­ria­l-grade 3D printing, or additive manufa­ctu­ring, continue to advance this techno­logy, which has only been around for a little more than 30 years.

Designers and engineers can now choose from several distinct classes of 3D printing techno­logies. Your choice of “tool” just depends on what it is you’re designing and what its final applic­ation is. Here’s a brief roundup of some of the main indust­ria­l-grade 3D printing options:

Stereo­lit­hog­raphy (SL)

Stereo­lit­hog­raphy (SL) uses an ultrav­iolet laser that draws on the surface of a liquid thermoset resin to create thousands of thin layers until final parts are formed. SL is used to create concept models, cosmetic protot­ypes, and complex parts with intricate geomet­ries.

Selective laser sintering (SLS)

Selective laser sintering (SLS) uses a CO2 laser that lightly fuses nylon-­based powder, layer by layer, until final thermo­plastic parts are created. SLS produces accurate prototypes and functional production parts.

Direct metal laser sintering (DMLS)

Direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) uses a fiber laser system that draws onto a surface of atomized metal powder, welding the powder into fully dense metal parts. DMLS builds fully functional metal prototypes and production parts and works well to reduce metal components in multipart assemb­lies.


PolyJet uses a jetting process in which small droplets of liquid photop­olymer are sprayed from multiple jets onto a build platform and cured in layers that form elasto­meric parts. PolyJet produces multi-­mat­erial prototypes with flexible features at varying durometers and is often used to concept overmo­lding designs.

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)

Fused deposition modeling (FDM) works by feeding a filament or spool of plastic into a heated nozzle, which then extrudes successive layers of thermo­pla­stics onto the workpiece. FDM offers a wide thermo­plastic material selection and is leveraged for iterative protot­yping.

Continuous Liquid Interface Production (CLIP)

Carbon is the name of the company that is using a process called CLIP, Continuous Liquid Interface Produc­tion, which builds parts from the top down, unlike other additive techno­logies that work from the bottom up. Final plastic parts exhibit excellent mechanical properties and surface finishes.

Multi Jet Fusion

Multi Jet Fusion process select­ively applies fusing and detailing agents across a bed of nylon powder, which are fused in thousands of layers by heating elements into a solid functional component. Final parts exhibit improved surface roughness, fine feature resolu­tion, and more isotropic mechanical properties when compared to processes like SLS.

3D Printing