Explore all 3D printing technologies available in 2022

3D printing is quickly becoming one of the most popular DIY hobbies, with over 2.2 million printers shipping worldwide in 2021 alone.

New types of 3D printing are still in active development, and the growing market for this technology is driving innovation, making many older printers look practically prehistoric.

But what are the different types of 3D printing available in 2022? Let’s find out below.


How many types of 3D printing are there?

Most 3D printing enthusiasts are familiar with material extrusion (FDM), in-vessel polymerization (SLA, DLP, and MSLA), and powder bed fusion (SLS and EBM). But, there are actually seven different types of 3D printing technology available to hobbyists and makers in 2022. Subtypes can be found within each of these categories, making for a long list of different types of printers 3D available in today’s market.

  • Extrude materials
  • Polymerization in tank
  • Powder bed fusion
  • Material jet
  • binder jetting
  • Direct Energy Deposit
  • Sheet lamination

What are the 3 main types of 3D printing?

While many types of 3D printers are available today, there are three main technologies that 3D printing enthusiasts use at home. This includes FDM (Fusion Deposition Modeling), SLA (Selective Laser Sintering) and SLS (Selective Laser Sintering).

3D printing technology available in 2022

Below is a collection of all the most essential 3D printing technologies available in 2022. This focuses on the types of 3D printers that normal people can buy and use at home, but we’ve also included the 3D printers that are available to manufacturers.

Types of 3D printing: Extrusion of materials

Material extrusion is the most popular type of 3D printing for home use. FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling)/FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication) is the only type of printer that falls into this category, but it’s worth bearing in mind that printers like this come in many different forms and sizes.

Printer cost From bottom to top
Material cost Low to medium
Materials available PLA, ABS, PET, PETG, TPU, Nylon, ASA, PC, HIPS and many more.
Convenience at home Ideal for home use

FDM/FFF 3D printers

FDM/FFF 3D printers are affordable and relatively easy to use, especially with modern advancements such as heated beds and enclosures. FDM 3D printers work by depositing layer upon layer of material using a gantry or array of actuators. The material comes in the form of a solid filament which is loaded onto the printer and passed through a heated extruder which melts it.

Types of 3D printing: Vessel curing

Unlike material extrusion, vessel polymerization uses a liquid starting material that solidifies when exposed to light. Lasers and other types of precision lighting are used to cure photopolymer resins that sit in a vat, usually with a bed that slowly lifts the object as it is made. Vat curing 3D printing is known for producing incredibly detailed parts with no visible layer lines, which makes SLA and DLP very different from FDM 3D printing.

Printer cost From bottom to top
Material cost Medium to high
Materials available Photopolymer resin
Convenience at home Suitable for home use

SLA 3D printers (stereolithography)

First invented in 1986, SLA was the first patented 3D printing technology in the United States. This type of printer has a photopolymer resin tank, a set of mirrors called galvanometers and a powerful laser as the main components. The laser and mirrors work together to harden specific parts of the resin to create a detailed model. Like FDM 3D printers, SLA printers form one layer at a time with a bed moving into the position of the next layer.

DLP (direct light processing) 3D printers

DLP 3D printers are very similar to SLA printers, except they use a digital light projector rather than a laser to cure the resin. This has the advantage of speeding up print times, as digital light 3D printers can cure entire layers with a single flash from their light projectors rather than having to focus on single points.

Other types of vat curing 3D printers

  • Programmable light curing (P3)
  • Masked stereolithography (MSLA)
  • Large Area Rapid Printing (HARP)
  • Lithography-Based Metal Fabrication (LMM)
  • Light Activated Additive Production (LEAP)
  • Projection Micro Stereolithography (PµSL)
  • Digital Composite Manufacturing (DCM)

Types of 3D printing: Powder bed fusion

Powder bed fusion is unique in that instead of using filament or resin, these printers use powdered materials that are fused together using thermal energy. Not only does this open the doors to metal and ceramic 3D printing, it also removes the need for troublesome supports; the powder does the work for you.

Printer cost High
Material cost Medium to high
Materials available Polymer powders, metal powders, ceramic powders
Convenience at home Suitable for home use, but better for manufacturing

SLS (selective laser sintering) 3D printers

Selective laser sintering 3D printers begin each print by depositing a thin layer of polymer powder near its melting point on a heated bed. A laser is then used, similar to SLA, to selectively fuse parts of the powder. Once one layer is complete, another layer of powder is added and the process begins again.

EBM (Electron Beam Melting) 3D printers

EBM 3D printers work the same way as SLS printers, except they work with metal powders and use an electron beam rather than a laser. This beam has a higher energy density than a laser, allowing EBM printers to work faster than their counterparts while sacrificing fine detail.

Other Types of Powder Bed Fusion 3D Printers

  • Direct metal laser sintering (DMLS)
  • Selective laser melting (SLM)
  • Multi-jet fusion (MJF)

Types of 3D printing: Material Jetting (MJ)

Material jetting 3D printers work very similarly to a regular 2D printer. The liquid material is deposited on a build plate and cured using lasers or digital light projectors, with precise jets depositing the material layer by layer. DOD MJ printers can even deposit polymer and wax materials to make supports.

Printer cost High
Material cost High
Materials available Photopolymer resin
Convenience at home Not suitable for home use

Types of material jet 3D printers

  • Deposit on Demand (DOD)
  • Nanoparticle Jet (NPJ)
  • ColorJet (CJP) printing

Types of 3D printing: binder jetting

Binder jetting is like a cross between material jetting and powder bed fusion. Layers of fed material are added to a build plate, with a nozzle squirting bonding material into specific locations to build each layer of the finished model. Sand, metal and polymers are all used for this process, although each material requires its own equipment to operate.

Printer cost High
Material cost From bottom to top
Materials available sand, plastic, metal
Convenience at home Not suitable for home use

Types of Binder Jetting 3D Printers

  • sand binder jet
  • Plastic binder spray
  • Metal Binder Jetting

Types of 3D printing: direct energy deposition

DED 3D printers work the same way as an FDM printer; a nozzle moves around a print bed while depositing layered material to build a model. Rather than melted plastic filament, direct energy deposition 3D printers use metallic powder or wire that is heated and fused as it leaves the nozzle. Printers like this will have either a laser, electron or plasma beam to heat the material.

Printer cost From bottom to top
Material cost Medium to high
Materials available Photopolymer resin
Convenience at home Not suitable for home use

Types of direct energy deposition 3D printers

  • Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing (EBAM)
  • Laser Net Shaping (LENS)
  • Cold spray
  • Direct Metal Deposition (DMD)
  • Wired Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM)
  • Rapid Plasma Deposition (RPD)

Types of 3D printing: sheet lamination

Sheet lamination 3D printers are unique in the world of 3D printing because they cannot finish the parts they manufacture themselves. Layers of paper, plastic or metal are laminated together using glue, heat or sound before a shape is cut using a laser cutter or CNC machine. This 3D printing method is affordable and fast compared to other methods.

Printer cost Medium to high
Material cost Down
Materials available Paper, polymers, metal
Convenience at home Not suitable for home use

Types of Sheet Lamination 3D Printers

  • Manufacture of rolled objects (LOM)
  • Ultrasonic Consolidation (UC)
  • Manufacture of composite objects by selective stratification (SLCOM)
  • Plastic Sheet Lamination (PSL)
  • Computer Aided Manufacturing of Laminated Engineering Materials (CAM-LEM)
  • Stratification by selective deposition (SDL)
  • Composite-based Additive Manufacturing (CBAM)

Choose the right type of 3D printer for you

Most people stick with FDM or vat-cured 3D printers when it comes to home use because they are the cheapest and easiest printers to buy and maintain. However, that doesn’t mean you’re limited to these options, and we recommend exploring all of these options we’ve discussed when making your next 3D printer purchase.

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