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Types of 3D Printing

  • 6 min read

Innovative Horizons: The Diverse Types of 3D Printing

Exploring the cutting-edge world of additive manufacturing unlocks the fascinating assortment of types of 3D printing, each with distinctive processes and benefits. From Stereolithography (SLA) to Fused Deposition Modeling and beyond, our understanding of tangible creation has transformed significantly. To streamline your journey through additive manufacturing, this article will guide and help you unravel 3D printing considerations and delve into the details of different types of 3D printing and processes.

3D Printing Considerations

Before starting a 3D printing project, it is important to consider several factors, such as:

  1. Choosing the Right Technology:There are different types of 3D printing technology such as FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling), SLA (Stereolithography), DLP (Digital Light Processing), SLS (Selective Laser Sintering), and DMLS (Direct Metal Laser Sintering). The choice of technology depends on the purpose, finish required, material preference, and budget.

  2. Selection of Materials:3D Printer materials span from high-performance plastics like ABS and PLA to flexible materials like TPU, and even include metals and ceramics. The selection depends on performance requirements and the characteristics of the native application your print will serve.

  3. Design Constraints:The technology you choose impacts design constraints such as overhangs, wall thickness, and detail level. Being aware of these constraints can optimize the design for 3D printing, reducing costs, and ensuring a successful print.

  4. Post-Processing:Some methods require significant post-print processing, such as support removal or surface finishing. The availability of facilities for post-processing and the additional time and cost associated with it should also be factored into your planning.

  5. Cost:The material, technology, and size of the print all impact the overall cost. Analyzing the costs and benefits and adopting suitable strategies (like hollowing the model, scaling down, or changing technology) can manage costs effectively.

  6. Safety and Environmental Considerations:Some 3D printing methods or materials can emit fumes and particles harmful to both people and the environment. Proper ventilation, use of safety gear, and eco-friendly materials are recommended.

Different Types of 3D Printing and The Processes

Here's an in-depth look at the top 10 types of 3D printing processes:

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)

FDM is undoubtedly one of the most common and cost-effective methods of 3D printing. It involves using a thermoplastic filament, which is heated and then extruded through a nozzle onto a build plate. The molten plastic then cools down and solidifies to create the layers of the final object. FDM 3D printing is suitable for rapid prototyping, testing, and small-scale production of functional parts.

Stereolithography (SLA)

SLA is considered the pioneer of 3D printing, as it was the first method introduced in the 1980s. It employs a UV laser to solidify a liquid photopolymer resin layer by layer on a build platform. The laser is controlled by a computer to selectively cure specific areas, creating high-resolution and intricate objects. SLA 3D printing is suitable for producing parts with smooth surfaces and complex geometries, often used for prototypes, molds, and jewelry.

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)

SLS 3D printing involves using a high-power laser to fuse powdered material, such as plastic, metal, or ceramic, into solid layers. The platform descends after each layer is sintered, and new powder is spread across the surface. SLS is known for producing durable and functional parts with moderate surface quality. It is used for rapid prototyping, complex and lightweight structures, as well as end-use parts in industries like automotive and aerospace.

Digital Light Processing (DLP)

Similar to SLA, DLP is a 3D printing process that utilizes a digital projector to selectively cure liquid resin with UV light. The main difference is that DLP exposes an entire layer at once, instead of point-by-point like SLA. This results in faster print speeds and lower costs. DLP is ideal for producing detailed and smooth-surfaced objects, such as dental models, jewelry, and prototypes.

Binder Jetting (BJ)

Binder jetting involves laying/depositing a liquid binder onto a bed of powder particles, layer by layer. The binder selectively glues the material together to create the desired shape. After the printing is complete, the excess powder is removed, and the part may require additional curing or infiltration for added strength. Binder jetting is particularly useful for creating large, full-color models and prototypes, as well as sand casting molds.

Material Jetting (MJet)

MJet technology works similarly to inkjet printing, where a print head deposits droplets of a liquid material straight onto the build platform, which solidifies under UV light. It offers high resolution, accuracy, and the ability to create complex, multi-material parts. MJet is used for creating functional prototypes, medical models, and short-run production parts.

Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS)

A variation of SLS, DMLS focuses on metal powders as the primary material. The process uses a focused laser to selectively melt the metal powder, creating fully dense, high-strength metal parts. Industries such as aerospace, automotive, and medical use DMLS for producing complex metal components.

Electron Beam Melting (EBM)

Instead of a laser, EBM utilizes an electron beam to melt metal powder particles in a vacuum chamber. This process allows printing with higher temperatures and better material properties, such as increased strength and fatigue resistance. EBM is primarily used for producing components of high-performance metals, including medical implants and aerospace parts.

Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM)

Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM) involves cutting layers of adhesive-coated paper, plastic, or metal foil and bonding them together using heat and pressure. While LOM offers a more affordable and faster process compared to others, the parts created have limited mechanical properties. It is suitable for visual and decorative models and for producing molds for casting.

Powder Bed Fusion (PBF)

Last on our list of types of 3D printing process is the Powder Bed Fusion (PBF). It encompasses a range of additive manufacturing technologies that rely on a bed of powder, including SLS, DMLS, and EBM. These processes create objects with a high strength-to-weight ratio and can produce complex structures without the need for support material. PBF is often used for creating functional prototypes, end-use components, and custom parts in industries like aerospace, automotive, and medical.

In the world of 3D printing, selecting the right 3D printer is just as important as choosing the right printing technology. The AnkerMake M5 and M5C 3D printers lead the pack as one of the best types of 3D printers available today. Let's take a closer look:

  • AnkerMake M5 3D Printer

    Our AnkerMake M5 3D Printer is a true game-changer, boasting an astounding print speed of 500mm/s while maintaining an exceptional 0.1mm precision. With its built-in AI camera monitoring, you can effortlessly capture automatic time-lapses of your creations. The Hub feature connects multiple devices, streamlining your 3D printing process like never before.

    Crafted within a robust aluminum alloy structure, the M5 ensures durability and stability. Its 7×7 auto-leveling system guarantees hassle-free calibration, and assembly is a breeze. Plus, the M5 offers an impressive print volume of 235x235x250mm³, providing ample space for your creative projects. Choose the AnkerMake M5 3D Printer for unmatched speed, precision, and convenience.

  • AnkerMake M5C 3D Printer

    Experience effortless multi-device control, all at your fingertips. Our customizable one-click button simplifies the printing process, putting you in command. With blazing fast 500 mm/s printing speed and 0.1 mm precise printing, your creations come to life with stunning accuracy.

    The M5C ensures hassle-free operation with 7×7 auto-leveling, and its robust full aluminum alloy structure guarantees durability. Equipped with an all-metal hotend and 35 mm³/s extrusion flow, your prints will be smooth and consistent. Discover a world of possibilities with the AnkerMake M5C 3D Printer.


In conclusion, the world of various types of 3D printing has never been more exciting and accessible as these technologies continue to advance rapidly. The impact of this innovation is expected to be immense, offering us a future where customized and complex structures are not only achievable but also accessible to everyone. So, utilize your newly found information in this article and be prepared to witness a transformative era as we shift from traditional methods to embracing the potential, convenience, and innovations of 3D printing.


Here are some commonly asked queries about the types of 3D printing.

What is the most accurate form of 3D printing?

The most accurate form of 3D printing is often considered to be Stereolithography (SLA). It's a resin-based 3D printing technology that provides exceptional detail and accuracy, ideal for applications where precision matters. Here, lasers are used to selectively cure sections of a liquid resin, building up the final print in a series of thin cross-sectional layers.

What is the most popular 3D printing method?

The most popular 3D printing method is Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM). This method works by extruding thermoplastic materials layer by layer to create an object. FDM printers are very accessible and widely used among hobbyists, educators, and even some industrial applications due to their ease of use and affordability.

What are the 3 main types of 3D printing?

The 3 main types of 3D printing are FDM, SLA, and SLS. Each of these methods functions differently and suits varying application needs, with Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) being the most common, Stereolithography (SLA) offering high accuracy, and Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) enabling complex geometries and structures without additional supports.