What is 3D Printing?

Posted on Jan 29, 2021 by Cullen Hikene

What is 3D Printing?

3D Printing is a process for making a physical object from a three-dimensional computer aided design (CAD) file.  Unlike subtractive technologies that involve removal of material from raw stock, or casting and injection molding where material fills the negative space of a tool, with 3D Printing it is achieved by laying down successive thin layers of a material on top of one another.  In this way, 3D Printing – sometimes referred to as additive manufacturing – allows for rapid creation of new geometries and the customization of material properties as a function of the manufacturing process.

A 3D printer creates a part in an on-demand manufacturing process.

Providing the inspiration for 3Diligent, 3D Printing has emerged as a tool for not only prototyping, but also aftermarket spares, custom tools, and even production parts. Here, we present an overview of each of the major additive manufacturing processes that we offer. Click into any of these process options for more information, or simply submit an RFQ and our team will assess the optimal solution for your particular application.

Visit the ProdEX resources section for more information about the history of 3D Printing, how additive manufacturing can fit into your business strategies for prototyping, replacement parts, tooling, and production parts that call for additive manufacturing’s unique abilities.


Binder Jet 3D Printing

Example of infiltrated binder jetting 3D printed partBinder jetting 3D Printing is the process of spraying an adhesive binder onto powdered material to build up a part. Binder jetting is offered both in gypsum (“Color Jet Printing,” ideal for full-color modeling) and metal (binder jetting with metal infiltration, a cost-effective metal printing option).


Directed Energy Deposition

Directed energy deposition 3D Printing is achieved by jetting powdered metal into a melt pool created by a focused energy source. This process is ideal for part repair applications and a viable option for the ground-up building of certain geometries, especially parts bigger than a cubic foot in size.

Material Extrusion 3D Printing

ProdEX Metal 3D Printing Services have you covered for metal material extrusion technologies

Extrusion 3D Printing is the process of directing a heated nozzle to melt and dispense filament or pellets onto a platform, layer by layer; a cost-effective option for functional thermoplastic parts. It is commonly known by its Stratasys branded name of Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) or the generic term Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF).

Material Jetting 3D Printing

Example of material jetting in additive manufacturing (hero image)

Material Jet 3D Printing involves jetting photosensitive resin from an inkjet head, then curing upon deposition with UV light. An outstanding process for high-accuracy prints, especially those requiring parts with multiple materials or variable material characteristics across a part.

Powder Bed Fusion 3D Printing

Example of powder bed fusion 3D printed part

Powder bed fusion 3D Printing is achieved by selectively melting powdered material with a focused energy source. Available for both plastic (SLS) and metal printing (DMLS, EBM, SLM, LaserCUSING, DMP), powder bed fusion offers highly accurate parts and outstanding geometric flexibility. It is generally best for parts under a cubic meter in size.

Vat Photo Polymerization 3D Printing

Example of vat photopolymerization in additive manufacturing

Vat photopolymerization 3D Printing selectively cures photosensitive resin in a vat using focused light. Vat Photopolymerization is an outstanding solution for parts requiring a smooth surface finish, tight tolerances, and low-to-moderate functional requirements.


3D Printing is an emerging technology in the industrial space gaining popularity due to its manufacturing abilities with unique geometries, breadth of materials, and of heavy utilization in design phases from prototype to production. Consider submitting an RFQ through manufacturing services such as ProdEX to get started today

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