What is the difference between FDM and DLP/SLA and what is the best 3D printer for home use?

There are many printing technologies, for example, LOM (layer-by-layer bonding of films), MJM (Multi-jet simulation), SLS (Selective laser sintering) and the like, and all of them are not suitable for hobby use, due to their high cost or the difficulty of operation and subsequent processing.

In my opinion, and the opinion of the majority, 3D printers based on FDM and SLA/DLP technologies. In the material, I will briefly talk about each printing technology and which 3D printer is better buy for hobby.

Although SLA and DLP are different printing technologies, there are few differences between them, both are based on the photopolymerization method, the difference is that DLP uses a projector that projects the first layer completely and due to UV radiation the first layer freezes. SLA has the same printing principle with one exception, not a whole layer is projected on the working surface, but a laser beam quickly passes through each point of the object, thereby polymerizing the liquid photopolymer.

It is not hard to guess that DLP is faster than SLA printing due to the fact that the first one polymerizes the entire layer, while SLA takes much longer to print the first layer. Some say that we pay for the speed of DLP printing with quality and SLA printing, although slow, it produces much better work! This may be true, but we need a 3D printer for the home to print trinkets and figurines, not jewelry designs and dental models, a few micron difference is not important to us.

Advantages of SLA/DLP printing

  • High quality and precision printing

  • There are almost no restrictions on the complexity of the model and the presence of small parts

  • Relatively little waste

  • No process issues (Peel off, Peel off, Print head failure, Poor adhesion)

Cons of SLA/DLP printing

  • The high cost of the photopolymer (at least 3 thousand per 1 kg)

  • Poor choice of print material

  • Toxicity of photopolymers

  • Requires UV light treatment after printing to fully cure

The simplest and most common printing method, FDM printers print by applying successive layers of molten material to the work surface. The material for printing is thermoplastic, twisted into a coil. Some FDM printers can use several extruders at the same time — for working materials and support materials, which can then be easily dissolved, provided that you use a special support material, by the way, there are much more materials for FDM printers than other printing technologies, this gives more space for creativity.

Advantages of FDM printing

  • Large selection of print materials

  • Easy to set up and use

  • Low cost of printing materials and 3D printers themselves

Cons of FDM printing

  • Lower print quality than DLP

  • Problems during printing: poor adhesion of the first layer, delamination during printing

  • Slow print speed compared to DLP printer

  • The need for processing figures for a flat surface

Here it is important to consider for what purposes you want to purchase a 3D printer and how much you can pay for printing materials. If you need high precision finished products and you are going to print something small in size with a lot of details, then a DLP printer is suitable for your purposes. But you also need to understand that you will have to spend a decent amount of money on a photopolymer resin for printing.

On the other hand, if you are not going to print miniature models with a lot of small details and do not want to pay 3-4 thousand rubles per 1 kg of material, an FDM printer with ease of operation and low cost of material will suit you.

If you have any questions, ask them in the comments.

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