What 3D Printing Technology Should I Use? [Infographic]

What 3D Printing Technology Should I Use? [Infographic]

Choosing which technology or service is best to produce your designs can be a daunting task. We’ve put together this infographic to help you decide what will produce the highest quality and most cost-efficient results. After going through this guide, make sure to check out 3D Printer Pages to find a machine using your chosen technology!




SLS stands for Selective Laser Sintering and uses high intensity lasers to sinter together anything from powderized plastics to metals. These printers can achieve high levels of detail and require no support structures, but they are much more costly than other technologies.


SLA is a light based technology known as stereolithography. These printers use either a laser or projector to cure and harden a liquid resin. SLA printers can produce parts with intricate details and isotropic mechanical properties but come at higher costs as compared to FDM. For those that want to see the quality of quality of SLA in person, Formlabs offers a variety of free sample parts.


3D Printing Bureau

A 3D Printing Bureau may use any of the other technologies depending on what’s needed for your project. Printing bureaus are the most cost-efficient if you only require a few prototypes or models. Purchasing your own machine is more cost-effective than using a 3DPB in the long-term.


FDM stands for Fused Deposition Modelling. Strands of plastic called filament are melted down and extruded through a small nozzle then built up layer by layer. This is the lowest cost 3D printing technology and can produce moderately detailed parts in a variety of different materials.


Pinshape is a 3D printing community and marketplace where makers from all over the world can find and share their next great 3D print and help each other get the best results from their 3D printers.

  • Some missing stuff here, like: do you need the ability to print multiple colors/materials

  • Steve Weber

    yea, also cost/availability of material and size requirements. all roads lead to SLA unless you are either rich, poor, or “don’t care about model resolution” whatever that means

  • Alkaios Bournias Varotsis

    Where is the mechanical property requirements? SLA is pretty good at producing high accuracy parts but the material properties (and material selection) of the FDM parts is much higher. I guess this article only considers prototyping for form, not function, which is fair enough.

  • Adept Inc

    You may want to check your Info graphic, it makes no sense. I know of no SLA printer under $5k…. “Is you budget more than $5K > NO > SLA, really? Is resolution important > Yes > is your budget more than $500….what????? regardless I understood your point, but needs more work!

  • Pinshape

    This is a high level overview for which technology you should choose. We included the most critical parameters involved with deciding on a 3D printer like cost and accuracy. There are certainly a number of different variables to take into account, but we wanted to provide an introductory framework for beginners just familiarizing themselves with the different technologies.

  • Pinshape

    You should check out Formlabs Form 2 for an SLA printer under 5k: https://pinshape.com/3d-printers/220-form-2. We absolutely agree that there are other variables to take into account and this is meant as an introductory overview.