What materials can be Printed 3D?

3D Printers (and additive manufacturing devices) have been around since the 1970’s – and  were originally large, expensive, and highly limited in what they could produce.

These days a number of different additive processes are available. They differ in the way layers are deposited to create parts and in the materials that can be used. Some methods melt or soften material to produce the layers, while others cure liquid materials using different sophisticated technologies. With laminated object manufacturing (LOM), thin layers are cut to shape and joined together (e.g. paper, polymer, metal).

Each method has its own advantages and drawbacks, and some 3d Printing Services offer a choice between powder and polymer for the material from which the object is built.

Most of the early 3D printers were only capable of printing plastic (polymer) based materials, but as printers became more sophisticated, a much wider range of materials is now available – and this is growing steadily.

3d print materials3D printing materials now include :

  • Ceramics
  • Stainless Steel
  • Silver

Some 3D  Printing techniques are capable of using multiple materials in the course of constructing parts. Some are able to print in multiple colors and color combinations simultaneously. Some also utilize supports when building. Supports are removable or dissolvable upon completion of the print, and are used to support overhanging features during construction.

The table below summarises some different types of additive manufacturing processes, the technology involved, and the materials each can use.

Type Technologies Materials
Extrusion Fused deposition modeling (FDM) Thermoplastics, metals, edible materials
Wire Electron Beam Freeform Fabrication (EBF) Almost any metal alloy
Granular Direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) Almost any metal alloy
Electron beam melting (EBM) Titanium alloys
Selective heat sintering (SHS) Thermoplastic powder
Selective laser sintering (SLS) Thermoplastics, metal powders, ceramic powders
Powder bed and inkjet head 3d printing, Plaster-based 3D printing (PP) Plaster
Laminated Laminated object manufacturing (LOM) Paper, metal foil, plastic film
Light polymerised Stereolithography (SLA) photopolymer
Digital Light Processing (DLP) photopolymer