3D Printing

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FDM 3D Printing

FDM or Fused Deposition Modelling is a polymer filament-based 3D printing technology which uses thermoplastics to print strong, resilient, functional, and dimensionally accurate products in an additive layer-by-layer process.

These products can be simple prototypes, surgical models, architectural models, gifting items, cosplay items, production-grade manufacturing tools, and even end-use parts.

FDM technology is also popularly known as FFF technology which is Fused Filament Fabrication. FDM & FFF are different names for the same technology.

FDM technology operates on coordinated movements of three axes wiz. X, Y & Z. Most commonly, the Extruder moves in X & Y direction whereas the print bed (build platform) moves in the Z direction.

Basic FDM 3D Printing Technology Workflow

The FDM 3D printing technology workflow follows three stages:

Pre-processing Stage

The pre-processing stage set the tone for the actual 3D printing. It is important that the pre-processing is accurate to get the desired results. Important parameters like orientation, temperature, speed & infill, layer & support settings, etc., are carefully adjusted in professional slicing software to obtain successful results.

3D Printing Stage

This is the actual 3D printing stage where the thermoplastic filament (in case of FDM 3D printing) is heated to a liquid-state and deposited on the build platform in the desired geometry for the first layer. On completion of the first layer, the bed moves down in the Z-direction and the deposition begins for the second layer. This layer-by-layer process is continued till the entire object is 3D printed.

Post Printing Stage

In this stage, after the object is 3D printed, it is removed from the build platform and then post-processed. The post-processing involves support removal (if any), smoothening (through sanding & acetone vapor), priming & painting (for aesthetical products), plating (for aesthetics & improving strength of the part), polishing (using specialized tools), Hydrographics (for aesthetics) etc.

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DLP 3D Printing

DLP or Digital Light Processing is a popular 3D printing technology which uses thermosetting polymers. These are specially formulated for specific applications like dentistry (dental resin), jewelry (castable resin), flexibility (elastic resins), tough or strength applications (tough resin), and lots more.

DLP 3D printing produces parts which have a very fine resolution or around 25 microns. This means that features as small as 25 microns can be printed in this technology. The printing is pretty fast and products are aesthetically appealing, smooth and with specific properties needed for use.

The products manufactured through DLP process are generally aesthetically appealing products, jewelry models, dental models, products with minute features less than 100 microns, gifting products, etc.

This process also follows the principle of additive manufacturing where the object is printed in a layer-by-layer process.

This process is very similar to SLA (Stereolithography) 3D printing technology and has certain advantages and disadvantages over it.

Basic DLP 3D Printing Technology Workflow

The DLP 3D printing technology workflow follows three stages:

Pre-processing Stage

The pre-processing stage set the tone for the actual 3D printing. It is important that the pre-processing is accurate to get the desired results. Important parameters like orientation, temperature, speed & infill, layer & support settings, etc., are carefully adjusted in professional slicing software to obtain successful results.

3D Printing Stage

This is the actual 3D printing stage where the liquid thermosetting resin is filled in a vat. This vat of resin is exposed to UV light under enclosed conditions through a projector. UV light from the projector is flashed onto the first layer of the resin. This layer is also in contact with the build platform (bed). As the UV light flashes on the layer, the resin hardens (cures) and the complete layer is printed and it sticks to the bed. The bed now moves in the Z-direction so that a new layer of resin I exposed to the UV light which also hardens on contact with UV light from the projector. This layer-by-layer process is continued till the entire object is 3D printed.

Post Printing Stage

In this stage, after the object is 3D printed, it is removed from the build platform and then post-processed. The post-processing for DLP 3D printing involves liquid bath at first. The 3D printed part is covered with residual liquid resin which is first drained out. The part is then subjected to multiple water and alcohol bath. After this the supports structures (if any) are removed, the part can also be additionally cured under UV light to improve its strength properties. Other post-processing techniques include smoothening (through sanding), priming & painting (for aesthetical products), etc.

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