Plastic 3D Printing

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Plastic 3D printing is one of the fastest and most cost-effective methods available for the iterative design, prototyping, and production of custom parts with Xometry. Rather than material being removed from a stock, as historically done with subtractive manufacturing processes such as CNC machining, 3D printing works by repeatedly layering small amounts of plastic to build a design from the ground up. This is done by providing the 3D printer with a three-dimensional digital design file, commonly referred to as a computer aided design (CAD) file. Once you have a CAD file for your design, there are a number of different 3D plastic printing methods that can be used to create your parts.

Xometry Plastic 3D Printing Service Processes

Selective Laser Sintering

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) is a powerful 3D printing technology that produces highly accurate and durable parts that are capable of being used directly in end-use, low-volume production, or for rapid prototyping.

An additive manufacturing layer technology, SLS involves the use of a high power laser (for example, a carbon dioxide laser) to fuse small particles of plastic powders into a mass that has a desired three-dimensional shape. The laser selectively fuses powdered material by scanning cross-sections generated from a 3-D digital description of the part (for example from a CAD file or scan data) on the surface of a powder bed. After each cross-section is scanned, the powder bed is lowered by one layer thickness, a new layer of material is applied on top, and the process is repeated until the part is completed.

SLS

Stereolithography

Stereolithography (SLA) is a robust 3D printing technology that produces extremely accurate and high resolution parts that are capable of being used directly in end-use, low-volume production, or for rapid prototyping.

SLA is an additive manufacturing process that focuses an ultraviolet (UV) light on a vat of photopolymer resin. It offers higher resolution printing than many other 3D printing technologies, allowing customers to print parts with fine details and surface finishes. SLA 3D printing is a highly-versatile platform for making custom parts in prototype and production settings; often acting as a stand-in for injection molded plastic parts.

Xometry offers both standard and high-resolution options for fine detail parts, and can also print larger sized parts and products, with some materials offering up to a 58" inch build area. In addition, Xometry's manufacturing partner network allows us to offer a larger variety of materials than other 3D printing companies - we offer a wide range of both Accura and Somos brand materials.

SLA

Fused Deposition Modeling

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) is a 3D printing technology widely known for its speed, accuracy, and competitive cost. A machine precisely extrudes melted plastic filament to create a part. Parts are very rigid, especially compared to Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), which makes them a great fit for projects with a rigidity requirement. Xometry's FDM solution offers large build volumes up to 24″ x 36″ x 36″, a variety of colors, and a diverse selection of production-grade thermoplastics — from ABS to Polycarbonate to Ultem.

FDM

HP Multi Jet Fusion

HP Multi Jet Fusion is a new 3D printing technology that produces highly accurate and durable parts that are capable of being used directly in end-use, low-volume production, or for rapid prototyping. Since the process uses well-established 2D printing ink-jetting, it has remarkably fast layer times compared to other powder bed fusion technologies.

HP MJF (NEW!)

PolyJet 3D

PolyJet 3D is a 3D printing technology known for its customizable material properties and excellent surface finish. It works by jetting UV curable resin onto a build tray in a process that is somewhat similar to inkjet printing. PolyJet 3D printing offers one of the most advanced industrial 3D printing solutions available, producing parts with incredible precision and speed. It also supports a wide variety of build materials including rigid and rubber-like plastics.

PolyJet 3D (PJ3D)

Carbon DLS™

Carbon DLS™ uses digital light projection, oxygen-permeable optics, and programmable liquid resins to produce products with end-use durability, resolution and surface finish. This 3D printing technology is called Digital Light Synthesis™, or DLS for short. Another legacy term for the process is Continuous Liquid Interface Production (CLIP). Along with Carbon’s custom liquid resins, DLS unlocks new business opportunities and product designs previously impossible, including mass customization and on-demand inventory of end-use products.

Carbon bridges, and sometimes substitutes, for processes like Urethane Casting and Injection Molding service production, because the materials are urethane-based or epoxy-based, giving excellent mechanical properties. There are even elastomer and silicone resins that outperform most additive manufactured rubber-like materials.

The typical build area is 7.4” x 4.6” x 12.8”. Parts with dimensions exceeding 4” x 4” x 6” will require manual review.

Carbon DLS

Advantages of Plastic 3D Printing

Precision

We use the latest generation of 3D printing technologies to meet tolerances of +/- 0.005” or +/- 0.002” per inch for SLS and +/- 0.004" or +/- 0.002" per inch for FDM, whichever is greater. Please see our Manufacturing Standards for more details.

Durability

SLS nylon is a durable material with great impact strength, medium flexibility, and high resistance to environmental factors, while FDM printed parts are available in a variety of high-performance plastics for applications that require resistance to the elements.

Scalability

SLS can make a single part or component as easily as dozens of production pieces, while FDM is capable of producing end-use parts on-demand, increasing your throughput.

Complex Geometry

Geometries can be built more easily due to the 3D printing process, adding complexity without additional cost.

Rapid Turnaround

Parts can typically be shipped in 3-4 days, allowing for faster design iterations and speed to market.

Plastic 3D Printing Materials

Rigid Plastics

Available rigid plastic varieties:

  • ABS
  • ABSi
  • ABS-ESD7
  • ABS-M30
  • ABS-M30i
  • Accura 48HTR
  • Accura 60
  • Accura ABS
  • Accura Bluestone
  • Accura ClearVue
  • Accura Xtreme
  • ASA
  • Nylon 12 (Unfilled)
  • Nylon 12 (Filled)
  • PC-ISO
  • Polycarbonate
  • PPSF
  • Rigid Photopolymer
  • Somos NeXt
  • Somos PerFORM
  • Somos Protogen 18420
  • Somos ProtoTherm 12120
  • Somos Taurus
  • Somos WaterClear Ultra 10122
  • Somos Watershed XC 11122
  • Ultem 1010
  • Ultem 9085

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Flexible Plastics

Available flexible plastic varieties:

  • Accura 25
  • PC-ABS

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Rubber-Like Plastics

Available rubber-like plastic varieties:

  • Rubber-Like Photopolymer (Shore A 26-28)
  • Rubber-Like Photopolymer (Shore A 35-40)
  • Rubber-Like Photopolymer (Shore A 45-50)
  • Rubber-Like Photopolymer (Shore A 57-63)
  • Rubber-Like Photopolymer (Shore A 68-72)
  • Rubber-Like Photopolymer (Shore A 80-85)
  • Rubber-Like Photopolymer (Shore A 92-95)

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Plastic 3D Printing Finishes

Standard

SLS parts are de-powdered with a sand blasting process, followed by detailed manual de-powdering for more complex geometries. These parts are left with a surface finish comparable to a sugar cube. FDM parts are built with support material that is removed during post processing, leaving the surfaces with fine layer lines.

Media Tumbled

SLS parts go through the standard de-powdering process and are then media tumbled for several hours. These parts will have reduced grow lines and sharp edges may be softened by the tumbling process. The parts are left with an eggshell finish.

Additional Finishes

Xometry provides additional SLS, SLA, Multi Jet Fusion & FDM finishing options, including but not limited to: color dyeing, sanding, painting and plating to meet your needs. For examples of our additional finishes, please refer to our photo gallery.

Applications for Plastic 3D Printing

Concept Models

The speed and versatility of Plastic 3D Printing lets product developers create physical snapshots of their designs through the iterative process.

Rapid Prototyping

Plastic 3D Printing can be used to create fully-functional prototypes, complete with moving parts, as well as all-in-one assemblies.

Direct Digital Manufacturing

The high accuracy and consistency of Plastic 3D Printing makes it an ideal way to build large quantities of discrete or customized parts.

Featured Plastic 3D Printing Resources

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