3D printing is an enabling technology that encourages and drives innovation with unprecedented design freedom while being a tool-less process that reduces prohibitive costs and lead times. In recent years, 3D printing has gone beyond being an industrial prototyping and manufacturing process as the technology has become more accessible to small companies and even individuals.

3D Printing Technology

The process works by melting plastic filament that is deposited, via a heated extruder, a layer at a time, onto a build platform according to the 3D data supplied to the printer. Each layer hardens as it is deposited and bonds to the previous layer. The most common materials for entry-level FFF 3D printers are ABS and PLA.

3D Printing Materials

ABS Filament

ABS is another common plastic used for 3D printing, and is widely used on the entry level FDM 3D printers in filament form. It is a particularly strong plastic and comes in a wide range of colors. ABS can be bought in filament form from a number of nonproprietary sources.

PLA Filament

PLA is a bio-degradable plastic material that has gained traction with 3D printing for this very reason. It can be utilized in resin format for DLP/SL processes as well as in filament form for the FDM process. It is offered in a variety of colors, including transparent, which has proven to be a useful option for some applications of 3D printing.