Which 3D printing process for which application?

As you know, there are a variety of additive manufacturing processes on the market and it is not always easy to choose the right one. What are the criteria to consider when it comes to opting for FDM rather than a resin process for example? Does the choice of technology depend on the application you are trying to create? Of the material with which we want to make our part? From the design of the room? Generally, before embarking on 3D printing, we have a project in mind, more or less precise specifications. A priori, it is this that will guide our choices, whether it is the choice of process, material, post-processing method, etc. Precisely, we asked advice from three market experts to find out if there is a 3D printing technology for an application.

Our first expert is Samuel Cabaret Baudron, expert trainer in 3D printing at Hava3D-Makershop. The company provides 3D printing solutions on three types of processes: light curing, powder sintering and filament deposition. By his side, Florian Berthelot, co-founder of the company F3DF, which supports companies in the integration or development of design or 3D printing tools within their activity. Finally, our last expert is Lionel RidoszAdditive Manufacturing Director, in charge of the development of the ALM activity at Safran Seats.

Market adoption trends

While there are many additive manufacturing processes, it can however be said that there are adoption trends. Indeed, our experts all agree that polymer 3D printing is more democratized today. Samuel Cabaret even specifies: “ It is clear that the FDM has become more democratized compared to other technologies by its simplicity of implementation, and the cost of operation.. “However, he qualifies his remarks:” However, we are currently seeing strong interest in resin technology in the market. This can be explained by the growing diversity of resin types, leading to an opening of the possibilities of associated applications where only FDM could respond (flexibility, thermal resistance, rigidity). On the one hand, therefore, we would have wire deposition, which remains a very accessible technology, rather easy to handle – especially if we stick to so-called standard materials such as PLA. It will mainly be used in the prototyping phases and in the manufacture of tools.

On the other side, we have the light curing processes – SLA, DLP, etc. which will be used more for its level of detail. Florian from F3DF adds: “ SLA technology is often used for prototyping or parts with more demanding surface finishes. Finally, if we stay on the polymer, a very popular technology is powder sintering which, according to Florian, “ is used for its versatility, as it allows printing many very different parts with good mechanical characteristics. » Generally, SLS users are looking for a more technical material, with a need for repeatability, on more or less large series.

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FDM remains one of the most widely used processes

If these three processes stand out, it is clear that many companies are adopting several technologies simultaneously. Florian Berthelot explains: “ The boundary between these technologies tends to blur, more and more manufacturing Labs are being installed with a Mix of technologies providing a wide variety of possible applications.. By focusing on several 3D printing technologies, companies and manufacturers can multiply the number of applications and offer an even wider range of prototypes, finished parts or tools. Precisely, this is the case of the Safran group. He opened a center of expertise and production dedicated to additive, polymer and metal manufacturing. Lionel Ridosz explains: “ Our products are varied. For example, a seat is made up of a multitude of complex parts that must have a wide variety of functional qualities (structural safety, movement mechanisms, appearance parts allowing airlines to differentiate themselves, etc.). The diversity of these parts explains the implementation of a diversity of ALM technologies to best meet the functional needs. It is therefore to respond to the diversity of the parts manufactured that the group has invested in several 3D printing processes. But precisely, what are the criteria to be taken into account to make this investment and integration a success?

Which 3D printing process for which application: the criteria to take into account

The starting point for successfully choosing the right 3D printing process is undoubtedly to qualify your need : you have to be able to understand what you want to manufacture, i.e. the volume of the part, its functionality, the constraints to which it will be subjected in order to find the material that can meet them, etc. . Florian Berthelot says: “ We often start from a field problem, an identified project, whether for prototyping, tooling or the manufacture of complex parts, then we analyze the specifications with him, we carry out the feasibility study for determine the most relevant manufacturing solution. The criteria can be the reduction of the time, the innovation brought, the economic aspect, or the short circuit for example. »

For Safran in particular, the criteria guiding the choice of a technology are the part propertiesbut also the associated cost. Because if additive manufacturing has many advantages, subtractive manufacturing processes are sometimes more interesting and adapted to the desired application. Lionel Ridosz says: “ The first criterion remains the properties (mechanical, fire resistance, etc.) achievable and qualified by this technology associated with a given material. The next criterion is that of the cost of the part produced with this material/process couple. In this second criterion, we will take into account the productivity of the technology, the ability to reliably and repetitively produce complex shapes, the cost of the material (Euro/kg). »

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The final application of the part will make it possible to choose the right material and therefore the associated process (photo credits: Makershop)

Another criterion that will influence a user’s final choice is the conception phase. It must indeed be kept in mind that depending on the geometry of the part to be manufactured, its volume, we will need to generate more or less printing supports, for example, which can directly impact the post-production phase. -treatment and costs. Florian from F3DF explains: “ Having technology in mind during the design phase is essential. Thinking about the volume of the part according to the printable volume on the technology, having in mind the construction layer by layer to limit printing failures due to deformations, are points of attention to keep in mind. Similarly, the issue of printing speed or reduction of supports will be taken into account in the design choices. Like other manufacturing processes, taking the design guidelines into account upstream will allow better “manufacturability”. I would even say that by determining the technology in the design phase we will save time, we can even benefit from software assistance as is the case with Generative Design for example. »

Keeping the design phase in mind, the user will also have to think about the room functionality. Does it need some high temperature resistance? Is its aesthetic aspect important? Will it be in contact with liquids? Will she be under any stress? All these answers will direct the user towards a material and therefore towards a process. Samuel from Hava3D adds: “ PFor example, for the printing of a piece of jewelry (visual prototyping or for production in castable resin), resin printing will necessarily be studied more in relation to FDM or SLS technology. Conversely, a very large part will be interesting for printing in filament deposition. »

The design phase is essential in the choice of its process (photo credits: PTC)

The latest advice from our experts

Samuel from Hava3D recommends: If you are hesitant to get into 3D printing, I recommend starting with an affordable printer (less than 500 euros) that has been recognized by the community as a must-have (Elegoo Mars, Ender 3 V2 ) in order to master the basics of 3D printing. This will allow you to limit the loss if 3D printing is not for you, or to have a head start in terms of pure knowledge if you want to move towards a more professional printer later.

Florian Berthelot affirms: Test! Start from a need for in-house parts as well as prototyping, tools, then do a technology benchmark. Train yourself upstream, it saves a lot of time in the process leading to the use of a technology both in subcontracting and in the integration of internal means.

Lionel Ridosz concludes: For a company that is starting its evaluation of additive manufacturing, first identify a product need. Based on this need, evaluate in a completely open manner all the material/process couples that can meet this need. And finally choose the process material pair that best corresponds to the product need according to technical and economic maturity criteria.

And you, which 3D printing process do you use for which application? Do not hesitate to share your opinion in the comments of the article. Find all our videos on our channel Youtube or follow us on Facebook Where Twitter !

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