What is 3D Printing?
3D Printing is a type of additive manufacturing where an item is created layer by layer, much in the same way a standard inkjet printer applies ink to paper. However, in a 3D printer the “ink” is called filament, and can be made of a variety of materials with different structural and chemical properties. Also, unlike an inkjet printer which moves the printer head, or nozzle, in only one plane, a 3D printer operates in all three planes, allowing it to create three-dimensional objects by applying layer upon layer of melted filament to the machines platform, or build plate.
What types of material can we print with?
Basic, consumer-level 3D printers commonly print with Polylactic Acid, or PLA, a bio-degradable plastic polymer that is capable of printing at high resolution and in a variety of colors, but is susceptible to deformation in heated environments such as a hot car or shed and is brittle so is not recommended for working parts such as tool handles or gears. The other most common 3D printing material used today is Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, or ABS, and is a resilient, flexible terpolymer which is tougher and more resilient than PLA, but requires an enclosed and heated print bed in order to ensure strong bed and interlayer adhesion.
In addition to PLA and ABS, we are also able to print in a variety of more exotic materials. Various grades of Nylon allow us to create incredibly resilient working parts such as hinges or bearings. Polyethylene terephthalate glycol-modified, or PETG (aka PET+ or PET) is an FDA-approved food safe material that prints similar to PLA and is safe for direct food contact with no leeching of materials. Polycarbonate is an incredibly strong and impact resistant material that is ideal for working prototypes that require exposure to heat and impact. Flexible filaments allow us to 3D print flexible objects and replace hard to find custom components. Please contact us for help choosing the correct filament for the part you are trying to print!
What can we print?
3D Printing can be used to create any kind of plastic or rubber item or part. Items are typically printed in a single color, although certain materials can be sanded and painted. In addition to a variety of colors, filament comes in many finishes, including wood grains, metals, stones and other uncommon grains in addition to the standard plastic finish.
We are able to print with any material that extrudes at or below 315°C (599°F) including PLA, ABS, PETG, Nylon, Polycarbonate, Carbon Nanotube and more. We can craft parts up to 12.5 inches x 8 inches x 10 inches, and provide limited post-print finishing. We also offer 3D Scanning Services that allow us to create a 3D model of an object (or individual) which can then be rendered for 3D printing.