What's The Difference Between Printing With Filaments and Resin?

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Have you heard about the 3D printed pizza? If not, people are going crazy over the prospect of a delicious meal printed instantaneously based on an image. A ‘Back To The Future’ dream somewhat coming true, it’s also speaking to the amazing ability of 3D printers. The technology and advancements being made within the industry are truly sparking a number of innovators to think of new and interesting materials to be used in creating products. Chocolate, antibacterial matter and pizza ingredients are just a few of the newer elements popping up but with all these, it’s important to understand what you can do with the basic printing materials.

What materials are those? Well it’s Filaments and Resin. Within these categories, there are an exponential amount that can achieve different results but the ones I want to focus on are ABS Filament, PLA Filament and High Quality Resin.

ABS and PLA Filaments are both thermoplastics commonly used by 3D printers in order to create detailed three dimensional objects. By superheating these materials, they both become malleable and allow the printer to extrude these filaments into products. Although ABS and PLA both behave in similar manners, they each have nuances that result in a varying degree of quality on the final product.

PLA Filaments

PLA filaments are made from organic materials, usually cornstarch and sugarcane, which makes the material safer to use. When melting the material, the machine can easily extrude the filament into the desired shape and is overall easier to print on, ensuring the image rendering details are incorporated into the final product. PLA also allows the object to have an amazingly smooth and shiny appearance, making it more aesthetically pleasing. However, with all these positive attributes, PLA does have some elements that make printing a bit tough. One being that it has a lower melting point than that of an ABS filament. This means that PLA is prone to a bit of warping, cracking and melting if you don’t pay close attention to the temperature of the environment in which you store your final product.

ABS Filaments

ABS filament is an oil-based plastic that results in very sturdy printed projects. The go-to filament of choice when creating business materials (plastic car parts, musical instruments, etc), ABS has a higher melting point which means printing with this material is often best when not using a hobbyist printer. Used to manufacture Legos, ABS requires that objects are printed on a heated surface as the material can experience a bit of cracking during the cooling process and that the workstation is properly ventilated since the fumes are rather strong.

High Quality Resin

Next up, resin. Resin comes in many forms but is often used to create 3D printed objects. The high quality resin is made from a photosensitive polymer liquid that is then solidified by a UV light layer by layer in order to create an intricately detailed final product. What’s great about this resin is that you can achieve a naturally smooth surface and add in as many specifications as your final object requires since this material allows the printer to be more precise.

Beyond that, you have ceramics, wood, porcelain, nylon, metal and so much more. It’s not the lack of options that will cause a possible headache when printing an object, but determining what material is the right one for your product and your printer to get the desired effect. The world of 3D printing materials is expanding and we for one cannot wait to see what new substance we can print with next!


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