Table of Contents_
If you are new to the world of physical printing, you may wonder about the different 3D printer types available for use. Some of the best printers, after all, are 3D printers, and these models ship in a wide range of designs and styles. So what are the types that classify the best 3D printers, and which is right for you? Keep reading to find out.
Before finding the best 3D printer, it is helpful to understand the various types. You have no shortage of printer types to choose from here, so go ahead and compare SLA vs PLA printers. 3D printers are commonly found in commercial and industrial settings, so go ahead and conduct that MSLA vs SLA review. Before too long, you will find the best 3D printer for action figures, among other doodads.
If you are a true beginner, SLA and FDM printers are likely your best bet due to their ease of use.
Not only are there a multitude of printer types in the world, but there are also many different 3D printer filaments. In other words, after learning about the various printer types, take some time to compare PLA vs PLA+ filament, among other comparisons. Here are the various types of 3D printers, along with some pros and cons, so you can make informed purchase decisions.
Fused deposition modeling (FDM) printers are very common in residential settings, as these printers specialize in making plastic prints. The process by which these printers operate is sometimes known as fused filament fabrication (FFF) due to the nature of the building method.
This kind of 3D printer works by pushing a plastic filament layer-by-layer onto a build platform and is likely what you picture when imagining a 3D printer. They are known for being relatively budget-friendly and fairly quick with prints. If you are an absolute beginner, this is likely the printer type for you.
Stereolithography (SLA) is the original 3D printing process, dating back decades. These printers started in the industrial sector for rapid prototyping but are now available for home use. SLA printers use laser beams to draw layers onto a pre-existing material. These printers use liquid resin to create support structures and to layer the exterior of objects. These printers are known for creating detailed prints with strong and smooth exteriors.
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) printers work slightly differently than the previous types. These printers melt together two nylon-based powders into a solid plastic throughout the printing process, allowing for extremely durable finishes. They fall somewhere between SLA and FDM printers as far as finish goes. The prints made via these machines are also known to be highly durable and strong, making them a good choice for prototyping and testing various components.
STAT: 3D printing, also commonly referred to as additive manufacturing, is an umbrella term that encompasses a group of different 3D printing processes. (source)
Digital light processing (DLP) printers also use liquid resin, like SLA printers, but they cure the resin using light. In other words, SLA printers use a laser, and DLP printers use a digital light projector screen. The advantages of this become readily apparent, as DLP printers can cure and build an entire layer at once, resulting in the fastest print speeds available with modern 3D printers. This makes these printers great for rapid prototyping and for making small batch runs of plastic gadgets.