Common Types of 3D Printers

Director of the Strategy Sector at Deloitte Consulting, LLP, Tomás Díaz de la Rubia previously served as the Deputy Director for Science and Technology at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. He is dedicated to helping technology providers and Deloitte Consulting’s clients connect in ways that foster innovation and the successful commercialization of technology. Tomás Díaz de la Rubia advises clients on emerging technologies such as 3D printing.

Dating back to the 1980s, 3D printing has only become a commercially viable manufacturing option in recent years. Also known as additive manufacturing, 3D printing can use up to 98 percent of the relevant raw material whereas traditional subtractive manufacturing can waste up to 97 percent of the concerned raw material. There are different kinds of 3D printers with a variety of purposes, but they all rely on similar methods to create finished items.

Fused deposition modeling printers build items by extruding plastic filaments onto a base, one layer at a time. Sterolithography (SLA) printers are among the most common entry level machines. They use light-sensitive plastic and a high-powered source of light to build items cross section by cross section. Finally, the polyjet photopolymer printer deposits a liquid that is almost immediately hardened by UV light. Polyjet photopolymer printers can print with a variety of colors and material types.

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