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Materials in 3D Printing


The vast array of materials which you can now shape into useful products using the layer by layer additive manufacturing approach offered by 3D printing is one of the key contributing factors to the growth of the 3D printing industry as a whole today.

The range of materials in which we can 3D print products today spans all of the four major materials categories, including: Polymers, metals, ceramics and even composite materials. 

In this article I will go into detail about the specific materials available for 3D printing, techniques used to print each type material as well as the potential product applications of each material. This will give you a better idea of what we can offer you through our bespoke 3D service at http://www.designmyworld.net/3d-on-demand/   

I will start by talking about Polymers, which are the most frequently utilised material category in the 3D printing industry. This category includes a number of different plastics, resins and elastomers which have been specifically developed and adapted for 3D printing.

Conventionally, most desktop 3D printers work using a technique called “Fused Deposition Modelling” or FDM for short. This simply means that the material being printed is deposited layer by layer as a hot liquid, which then fuses to the previous layers as it solidifies, usually by cooling down.  This process is viable for nearly all plastics which are conventionally injection molded. Popular plastics within this group include PLA -  Polylactic Acid, a biodegradable Cornstarch based plastic and ABS -  Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene which is the hard synthetic plastic from which Lego bricks are made. Rubbery plastics such as Ninjaflex are also available for use with FDM style 3D printers, allowing for flexible and tough components to be created quickly and easily.

Composite blends been developed which combine fine particles of familiar materials such as wood, brass and copper with a 3D printable plastic into a material which can be used to emulate its real counterpart with any desktop 3D printer.

Other techniques for 3D printing Polymers are largely based around optics and light manipulation rather than the heated extrusion of a melted plastic. There are two techniques which fall into this category. The first is SLA (Stereo lithography) which uses a light projector cure and liquid resin. The second is SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) which uses a powerful laser to melt a powdered material layer by layer. Both techniques can produce very finely detailed results which make them a favourite choice for producing products from unique lighting features and custom jewellery and more, all of which and more are offered by http://www.designmyworld.net/3d-on-demand/



This brings us to our next available 3D printing material, Metal. In a process similar to Selective Laser Sintering process powdered metals including Titanium and Steel are formed into finely detailed, yet robust products ranging from to door handles to bespoke cutlery and so much more. The advantage of this is that we can now create strong, usable products which are custom to their owner.

More personal products, such as custom jewellery can be created in Gold, Brass, Copper and Bronze using a low cost 3D printed wax model which is cast in sand and dissolved away when casting the final metals.  What this means for our customers is that they can now choose to have totally custom design including; engraving, embossing, patterns, sizes and textures and more for their metallic products at a far lower price point than previously possible by going to a professional jeweller.

3D printed ceramics are created using a specialized 3D printer which creates each 2D profile/layer by spreading an organic binder solution onto a bed of ceramic powder which is cleaned by a roller mechanism and then repeating the process. The result is a detailed model with a hard, cold ceramic feel. This technique of 3D printing is food safe, making it ideal for products such as bowls, mugs, saucers, vases ornaments and other home décor. Multicolour ceramics are made similarly by dropping coloured glue onto a bed of ceramic powder and then repeating the process. The resulting models are not food safe but can still be used in home decoration for products such as vases and bookends.  

At http://www.designmyworld.net/3d-on-demand/ we offer an ever growing range of bespoke, 3D printed products in a variety of different materials which are carefully selected so that the resulting product works as well as possible within your chosen area of application.

We deliver the products which you customize in all of the materials which I have previously mentioned through our manufacturing partners. The price of your selected product choice will be automatically adjusted depending on your choice of material and product size.  This makes it simple and fun to create a unique living environment, tailored specifically to your tastes and requirements at a fraction of the cost previously imaginable.