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3D Printing

Author: Weston Brownlee

  • 3D Printing
  • Additive Manufacturing
  • FFF
  • FDM
  • SLA
  • SLS
  • CJP
  • MJP
  • DMP
Rendering of the NASA Swarmies trophy

From the Ground Up

Originally developed in the 1980’s, when it was known as Additive Manufacturing, 3D Printing has since evolved into an increasingly limitless tool to reshape the physical world. 3D Printers literally build objects from a number of different materials, and are capable of producing forms and geometries that cannot be created any other way.

While often lumped together and treated like a singularity, 3D Printing is incredibly diverse, finding vastly different applications across industries and objectives. While every machine affords the opportunity to create something from virtually nothing, no single machine suits every purpose.

metal 3D printer

Production Printing

At its core, one of the primary aims of the 3D Printing industry has been to revolutionize manufacturing. Production printing is the realization of that aim. Rapid build times, printing in large quantities and sizes, and the ability to replace injection molds or eliminate them entirely. Production printers completely transform the manufacturing process and are new enough in their current forms that the world has yet to feel their full effects. Production grade printers can create parts that factor into a larger manufacturing or for direct end-use. While it’s a reality to make anyone excited, the real benefits of production level technology rely upon continued widespread adoption by major manufacturers for their own use or organizations making them available to smaller scale commercial clients.



Includes large format SLA, SLS, and DMP
personal 3D printer

Filament Printing

The most well-known conversations surrounding 3D Printing pertain to cost-effectiveness and universally accessible machines. Within those circles filament printing has become the leading form of technology being adopted at the consumer level. Operating in much the same way as a hot glue gun, filament printers rely on spools of material like ABS and PLA plastic as a cheap means to create. Filament printing has given rise to a lot of interesting innovations and applications in the maker space, particularly for those willing to approach 3D Printing as a hobby or craft. Filament printers are very hands on, which makes them good for filling very specific niche roles that most often favor function over form. While they do offer very real benefits and sit at a price point that makes them accessible to almost anyone, they will likely never match professional and production grade equipment. Regardless they are an excellent tool for custom solutions at a small scale.



Includes ABS, PLA, PETG, TPU, PVA, Nylon, Polycarbonate, and more
paper 3D printer

Exotic Printing

Greater dispersal and wider adoption of an idea always leads to something newer if not stranger. In the case of 3D Printing, new ideas come in the form of new materials and processes. Already the stuff of science fiction, it’s no wonder visionaries continue to push the boundaries of possibility and our imaginations. In recent years, simpler exotic printing has included Mcor’s line of paper printers, which literally use standard office paper to form stunning parts in full color.

Excluding paper, exotic printing generally lacks widespread use, remaining more at the level of research and highly specialized use. Recreating human tissue, printing entire buildings, and even food all represent the frontier of the cutting edge.

stereolithography 3D printer

Professional Printing

Printers in this class offer robust material selections, large build volumes, and an array of real world applications. While the price point of owning a professional might put it out of reach for some, this is the type of machine truly leading the world into new realms from which anyone can reap the commercial benefits. Professional materials offer a wide selection of material types, which are suited to both functional and aesthetic projects. Whether intended for end-use or other manufacturing processes, professional printing is the ideal solution for moderate scale manufacturing of all kinds.



Includes: MJP, CJP, SLA