FDM vs SLA :Choosing the Right 3D Printing Technology

During prototyping, we employ 3D printing to create 3D models tol help us test out design concepts and shorten product development times. Stereolithography, or SLA, and Fused Deposition Modeling, or FDM, are two of the most common 3D printing techniques employed for these purposes, and each can be beneficial depending on your unique product needs.

What is Fused Deposition Modeling(FDM) technology

FDM is the most common 3D printing method used in desktop 3D printing. It works by extruding a thermoplastic polymer that is passed through a heated nozzle which is deposited on the build stage. In other words, a model is built by small beads of thermoplastic which form layers after extrusion from a nozzle. Effectively, the object is built from the bottom up. It is an affordable and cost-effective way to get an object or prototype designed quickly. This low-cost method is used to refine designs at home. The downside is the rougher surface finish of the final product.

When to use FDM

Rapid prototyping

Low-cost models

For experimenting

When precision and surface finish are not crucial

what is Stereolithography (SLA): uses a vat of curable photopolymer resin. The build plate descends in small increments and the liquid polymer is exposed to light where the UV laser draws a cross section layer by layer. The process is repeated until a model has been created. The object is 3D printed by pulling the object out of the resin (bottom up), which creates space for the uncured resin at the bottom of the container and can then form the next layer of the object. Another method is to 3D print the object by pulling it downward into the tank with the next layer being cured on the top.

When to use SLA

When intricate details and/or a very smooth surface finish is crucial

When strength and durability of the model is not crucial (models made from resin may suffer when exposed to the sun for extended periods)

For creating molds for casting to facilitate mass-production (e.g. by jewelry or toy makers) investment casting

Which is better?

In terms of a smooth finish, SLA/DLP promises you good quality in comparison to FDM. It projects the profile of an entire layer at one time, turning 2-dimensional images into a 3D object. With DLP/SLA you can also produce parts that are more fragile or delicate and it is one of the most accurate forms of 3D printing. FDM requires more mechanical and software tinkering to run optimally. The material used in FDM is ABS, PLA and Nylon, Alloy 910, PVA, HIPS while SLA uses photosensitive resins(3d printing sla resins). Due to the different processes and starting materials used, DLP needs an extensive set-up, post-processing and curing.

What Should I choose?

Your option of the pick for a 3D printing depends largely on what is it that you are interested in 3D printing? Is there a 3D model to be made? As some specific materials are available only on certain processes you must keep in mind what is most suitable for your application. For a single use, one-off low cost with no major structural parts FDM is what you could opt for. Factors like cost, time and materials are to be taken into consideration when choosing one of the many techniques. 3d printing im mumbai pune delhi ncr gurgaon india