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.