What is 3D Printing?
3D Printing, also known as additive manufacturing (AM), is the process of building parts or objects layer-by-layer using a three-dimension technology from a digital CAD file. Each layer can be seen as a thinly sliced cross-section of the object.
AM is the opposite of subtractive manufacturing (CNC) which is cutting out a piece of metal or plastic. Additive technologies enables you to produce complex shapes that are otherwise unable to be built using other manufacturing methods.
3D printing dates to the 1980s when manufacturing innovators tried to create products using UV light to harden liquid polymers. This technology has transformed into what is now known as stereolithography (SLA).
SLA is but one of many different printing technologies available, other notable processes are Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) and Selective Laser Sintering (SLS).
What Is Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM)?
FDM is the most popular form of 3D printing in the world, especially among hobbyists, though there exist highly professional service bureaus that can print in production-grade FDM parts. FDM prints in filaments of thermoplastic to construct objects.
Examples of materials available in FDM:
- Plastic (ABS, Nylon 11/12, PC, PC/ABS and TPU)
- Metals (Stainless Steel, Tool Steel, Copper, etc.)
Another popular 3D printing process is SLA. Instead of printing in filament like FDM, SLA prints out of liquid polymer resin.
What is Stereolithography (SLA)?
Stereolithography (SLA) is a 3D printing process where UV light and photopolymer resin are used to make printable parts. The resin is cured by a UV laser which hardens the plastic. These layers are produced at high speeds, making SLA a great option for rapid prototyping.
Other process like SLA, printing in liquid resin:
- Digital Light Processing (DLP)
- Digital Light Synthesis (DLS)
Benefits of 3D Printing in Calgary
Whether your part is big or small, there is a AM process that can handle the volume. Designers have the freedom to design parts without being tied down to constraints.
Also, with these technologies, the ability to print multiple iterations of a design is quick and cost-effective. There is no need for the manufacturing of new tools and jigs for revised iterations in 3D printing.
Additive allows for the design of complex geometries that are otherwise impossible to manufacture using traditional manufacturing processes. The reduction in restrictions benefit the designer since they do not have to abide by a set of rules when designing, increasing creativity.
Traditional prototyping methods such as CNC machining and injection molding require expensive machinery and tools which carries higher labor, material, and upfront costs.
3D printing is a one-step process, avoiding the expensive up-front costs of tooling. 3D printers use only material that is needed to print the parts and requires little supervision, further bringing down labor costs.
One of the main advantages of 3D printing is rapid prototyping (RP); RP is the ability to design and create an object in minimal time. Printing can manufacture parts within minutes which speeds up the prototyping process and allows for each stage of a design process to be completed faster.
The designer or firm can simply design the part they want how they want. They can leave the rest to the experts at Agile Manufacturing Inc. to receive their part(s) within days.
We also provide 3d printing services in the following areas: Kitchener, Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver