3D Printing Technology

ABS Plastic: Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) is an impact-resistant engineering thermoplastic.  They are typically used for applications that require lightweight and heat-resistant properties and are commonly used across many industries. It is the most popular 3D printed material on the market and is ideal for FDM or extrusion technologies.

Additive Manufacturing (AM):  Refers to a collection of technologies where materials are used to build an object, layer-by-layer, until the physical product conforms to its digital model. AM products can be found throughout the product lifecycle, from design, prototyping, and tooling, to full-scale production.

3D printing:  A generic, colloquial term describing AM processes that better resonates with many people due to its simplicity and ease of visualization.

Binder jetting:  A 3D printing process that selectively jets adhesive and other agents onto a bed of powder. During production the machine selectively binds (adheres) one layer of powder at a time, and then applies the next layer. The end result is a cube (build) of power filled with solid parts.

Digital workflow:  AM uses virtual blueprints from computer-aided design (CAD) or animation modeling software and “slices” them into digital cross-sections for the machine to successively use during its controlled build process.

CAD:  Computer-Aided Design (CAD) is a software solution that allows engineers to create, modify, analyze and optimize part designs. To 3D print a part, designers generate a readable file (.STL, .3MF, etc.) that can be processed by the machine.

STL Files:  Stereolithography (STL) files are the most commonly used file format for 3D printing. They provide a readable format for 3D printer hardware, identifying the slicing layers needed for the printing process. Other formats, such as .3MF are emerging and provide additional details about the part and its makeup.

DfAM:  Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM) is the process engineers use to optimize their parts for 3D printing. The technology allows them to develop lighter-weight parts with complex features and simplified assembly, and these design principles help guide the transition.

Build:  Depending on the machine used, the material is bonded or fused in a bed or on a platform to construct an object in a layer-by-layer fashion, until final parts have been created. A build can contain many similar or varying parts and completion of a build can take anywhere from several hours to several days, depending on the method used and the size and complexity of the part.

Post-processing:  Refers to the processes used after parts are additively manufactured. With some technologies this can include removing or dissolving supports, but with HP’s technology, parts do not require supports and can be easily cleaned after production.

Finishing:  Refers to the steps taken once parts are post-processed. This can include decorative and performance-oriented coatings such as dye, paint, and Cerakote, among others.

JIT Manufacturing:  Just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing describes a  philosophy in which materials or components are delivered immediately before they are required to minimize supply chain costs. 3D printing is very fast and cost-effective on short runs, making it ideal for JIT applications

On-demand manufacturing:  In addition to JIT, 3D printing also supports “on-demand” production, including parts that are customized or personalized. Building on its speed advantage, low setup cost, and digital workflow, parts can be produced when and where they are needed.

Industry 4.0:   Industry 4.0 describes the combination of artificial intelligence, workflow software, robotics, and additive manufacturing to achieve truly autonomous manufacturing.  The goal is to create smart factories that increase efficiency and eliminate waste.

Jigs & Fixtures:  A fixture is a work-holding or support device used in traditional manufacturing.  Typically used to locate and support work on a production or assembly line, jigs & fixtures ensure that all parts being produced maintain conformity and interchangeability.

FDM:  Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) is the most common form of 3D printing that melts plastic filament or wire to build parts. While the technology is inexpensive, it typically lacks the quality and performance of other additive manufacturing technologies.

FST Certified Materials:  FST or Flame, Smoke and Toxicity certified materials meet regulatory standards that protect human health and safety.  FST certification meets the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).

MRO:  Maintenance, Repair and Operations (MRO) teams often need spare parts, pumps, valves, consumables, and other pieces of equipment relating to the restoration or function of traditional manufacturing equipment.  Industrial companies are beginning to utilize 3D printing for replacement parts, enabling MRO departments to focus on equipment restoration and reducing their storage and warehousing footprint.

Rapid Prototyping:  Before 3D printing, traditional prototyping development was a long and laborious process that was expensive and problematic. With additive manufacturing, engineers can accurately replicate software designs in the physical world, allowing them to quickly and easily adjust and improve the function of parts before committing to mass production.

STL Files:  Stereolithography (STL) files are the most commonly used file format for 3D printing.  It allows the computer to communicate with the 3D printer hardware, identifying the slicing layers needed for the printing process.

MJF:  Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) is a proprietary technology created by Hewlett Packard (HP) and introduced in 2016.  Similar to binder jetting technology, MJF utilizes powder bed fusion, where a layer of powder is fused together with the help of a fusing agent and, after printing, a heat source.  The process is then repeated, layer by layer, to create the final part.  To learn more about the MJF technology, material capabilities, and applications visit our MJF page.

Tensile Strength: Tensile strength is the maximum pulling force a printed object can withstand before it fractures or stretches permanently.

ATSM D638: ATSM D638 is a standard test method used to evaluate the tensile properties of plastics. It outlines the procedure for preparing test specimens, conducting the tensile test, and interpreting the results.

Flexibility: How much a printed object bends under pressure and returns to its original shape when the pressure is removed. 

Rigidity: A printed object’s ability to resist bending or deformation under force.

Young’s Modulus: A measurement of a material’s stiffness under tensile load. A high Young’s modulus indicates a 3D-printed part that can maintain rigidity and shape under stress. Conversely, if flexibility in a part is desired, a material with low Young’s modulus would be more suitable.

Heat Deflection Temperature (HDT): The temperature at which a 3D printed material starts to soften or deform when exposed to both heat and stress.

Amorphous Polymer: Polymers that lack a well-defined, ordered structure at the molecular level. This can translate to lower melting temperatures, reduced warping, and less rigid.

Semi-Crystalline Polymer: The long polymer chains are organized in an ordered way. These polymers typically have good strength and wear, but poor impact resistance. Semi-crystalline polymers offer good chemical resistance.

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