ProtoCAM: Additive Manufacturing, 3D Printing and Rapid Prototyping.

Which Additive Manufacturing Method is Best

April 13, 2015


Putting our additive manufacturing methods head-to-head to help you determine the right one for your part or prototype.

Some customers already know exactly what they want when they request a quote. Typically these are experienced product designers and engineers, and ProtoCAM is always ready to reply with a fast quote in these cases.

Many customers, however, simply know what end result they want, and not necessarily the best way to get there. The first step is narrowing down the end results that are non-negotiable. Is it dimensional precision or surface finish, durability and flexibility, or opacity and coloring you can’t live without?

Sometimes it is quite clear which additive manufacturing technology is right for the job. Other times, there is more than one technique that seems like it could work. Here are some general guidelines that can help you narrow down your options in advance of talking with a ProtoCAM engineer:

Stereolithography vs PolyJet 3D Printing

When dimensional precision, color/opacity and visual aesthetics are critical, chances are the additive manufacturing technique for the job will be stereolithography or PolyJet 3D printing.

Think stereolithography when you need:

  • tight tolerances for form/fit testing
  • true bottle clear finish
  • affordable aesthetics

Think PolyJet 3D printing when you need:

  • hard and soft components in a single part or prototype (multi-durometer)
  • fine details on sidewalls or up-facing surfaces (Z dimension)
  • visually striking colors

Laser Sintering vs Fused Deposition Modeling

If you’re after strong and exceptionally durable parts in rugged thermoplastics or metal, laser sintering or fused deposition modeling are most likely the two rapid prototyping methods you’ll be considering.

Think laser sintering when you need:

  • prototypes with material properties similar to injection molding
  • accurate and durable form/fit models
  • metal end-use parts or prototypes

Think fused deposition modeling when you need:

  • high-stress test pieces that stand up to heat, chemical and mechanical pressure
  • end-use parts in production-grade thermoplastics

ProtoCAM’s engineers excel at providing advice and recommendations for choosing the best additive manufacturing method to satisfy a customer’s requirements and specifications while keeping the project cost-competitive. Contact us today to get a quote.