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Technology & Materials

Learn more about the technology and material we offer in AM services

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FDM/FFF

FDM, also known as FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication), can build just about any geometry you have in mind. That’s why you can find FDM parts as end-use components in airplanes, as production tools in an automotive factory, and as prototypes just about anywhere.

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SLA/DLP

Stereolithography, also known as SLA(laser Based) or DLP(Digital Light-Based), is a veteran of 3D printing technologies. It’s the most widely-used rapid prototyping technologies for plastic models.

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HP MJF

Powder based 3D printing, 
without the lasers 

HP spread waves of excitement throughout the 3D printing world with the announcement of the Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) technology. Discover the new technology that is ideal for when you need short lead times, low porosity and excellent surface quality, for functional prototypes and small series.

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SLS

Laser Sintering, also known as selective Laser Sintering (SLS), is among the most versatile and frequently used 3D printing technologies: you can find laser-sintered parts in airplanes, wearables, machine components, and production tools.

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Metal am

Metal 3D Printing holds a unique position in modern-day product development. It allows for the direct manufacturing of complex end-use parts and facilitates tooling for conventional manufacturing technologies, reducing costs and lead times. This technology is also known as Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) and Selective Laser Melting (SLM).

 

Fused Deposition Modeling/ Fused Filament Fabrication

How FDM works

How FDM works?

In FDM, a spool of filament is loaded into the printer and then fed to the extrusion head, which is equipped with a heated nozzle. Once the nozzle reaches the desired temperature, a motor drives the filament through it, melting it.

The printer moves the extrusion head, laying down melted material at precise locations, where it cools and solidifies (like a very precise hot-glue gun). When a layer is finished, the build platform moves down and the process repeats until the part is complete.

After printing, the part is usually ready to use but it might require some post-processing, such as removal of the support structures or surface smoothing.

Why to choose FDM?

FDM is the most cost-effective way of producing custom thermoplastic parts and prototypes. It also has the shortest lead times - as fast as next-day-delivery - due to the high availability of the technology. A wide range of thermoplastic materials is available for FDM, suitable for both prototyping and some functional applications. The great advantage of FDM is the durable materials it uses, the stability of their mechanical properties over time, and the quality of the parts. The production-grade thermoplastic materials used in FDM are suitable for detailed functional prototypes, durable manufacturing tools and low-volume manufacturing parts.

Ideal Applications:

  • Low-volume production of complex end-use parts

  • Prototypes for form, fit and function testing

  • FDM is the most cost-effective way of producing custom thermoplastic parts and prototypes.

  • The lead times of FDM are short (as fast as next-day-delivery), due to the high availability of the technology.

  • A wide range of thermoplastic materials is available, suitable for both prototyping and some non-commercial functional applications.

Materials:

Stereolithography(SLA/DLP)

How SLA works

How SLA/DLP works?

SLA and DLP are similar processes that both use a UV light source to cure (solidify) liquid resin in a vat layer-by-layer. SLA uses a single-point laser to cure the resin, while DLP uses a digital light projector to flash a single image of each layer all at once.

After printing, the part needs to be cleaned from the resin and exposed to a UV source to improve its strength. Next, the support structures are removed and, if a high quality surface finish is required, additional post-processing steps are carried out.

Why to choose SLA?

When you need a part printed yesterday and delivered right now, Stereolithography is what you want to be looking at. It’s a technology that produces great looking models with impeccable surface quality in no time.

Ideal Applications:

  • Visual prototypes for photo shoots and market testing

  • “Show and tell” parts with smooth surfaces and fine details

  • Prototypes for limited functional testing

  • Masters for copying techniques such as Vacuum Casting

  • Alternatives for sheet metal prototypes when coated with a metal plating process

  • Patterns for investment casting

  • Low-volume production of complex geometries

Materials:

 
 

HP Multi Jet Fusion

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How MJF works

How MJF works?

A thin layer of powder is first spread over the build platform where it is heated to a near-sintering temperature.

A carriage with inkjet nozzles (which are similar to the nozzles used in desktop 2D printers) passes over the bed, depositing fusing agent on the powder. At the same time a detailing agent that inhibits melting is printed near the edge of the part.

A high-power IR energy source then passes over the build bed and melts the areas where the fusing agent was dispensed while leaving the rest of the powder unaltered. The process repeats until all parts are complete.

Why to choose MJF?

Multi Jet Fusion uses a fine-grained materials that allows for ultra-thin layers of 80 microns. This leads to parts with high density and low porosity, compared to parts produced with Laser Sintering. It also leads to an exceptionally smooth surface straight out of the printer, and functional parts need minimal post-production finishing. That means short lead times, ideal for functional prototypes and small series of end-parts. MJF parts have isotropic strength, same strength in X, Y & Z direction and also printed parts are IP67 rated i.e. air & fluid tight

Ideal Applications:

  • Low and Mid volume production of complex end-use parts

  • Prototypes for form, fit and function testing

  • Prototypes with mechanical properties to rival those of injection-molded parts

  • Series of small components as a cost-effective alternative to injection molding

Materials:

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PA 12 (Nylon)

Produce strong, functional, detailed complex parts. 

Robust thermoplastic produces high-density parts with balanced property profiles and strong structures. Provides excellent chemical resistance to oils, greases, aliphatic hydrocarbons, and alkalies. Ideal for complex assemblies, housings, enclosures, and watertight applications. Biocompatibility certifications—meets USP Class I-VI and US FDA guidance for Intact Skin Surface Devices.

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)

How SLS works

How SLS works?

The SLS process begins with heating up a bin of polymer powder to a temperature just below the melting point of the material. A recoating blade or roller then deposits a very thin layer of powder - typically 0.1 mm thick - onto the build platform.

A CO2 laser scans the surface of the powder bed and selectively sinters the particles, binding them together. When the entire cross-section is scanned, the building platform moves down one layer and the process repeats. The result is a bin filled with parts surrounded by unsintered powder.

After printing, the bin needs to cool before the parts are removed from the unsintered powder and cleaned. Some post-processing steps can then be employed to improve their visual appearance, such as polishing or dying.

Why to choose SLS?

With no need for support structures, this technology is suitable for interlocking parts, moving parts, living hinges and other highly complex designs. Whether you need fully functional prototypes or a series of complex end-use parts, Laser Sintering’s design freedom serves both. Besides, we make production fast and cost-effective for you by maximizing the available build space in each machine.

Ideal Applications:

  • Prototypes with mechanical properties to rival those of injection-molded parts

  • Series of small components as a cost-effective alternative to injection molding​

  • Personalized manufacturing, the economical production of unique, complex, designs built as one-off products or in small batches

  • Lightweight designs using complex lattice structures

Materials:

 
 

Metal 3D Printing

How Metal AM works

How Metal AM works?

Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) and Selective Laser Melting (SLM) produce parts in a similar way to SLS: a laser source selectively bonds together powder particles layer-by-layer. The main difference, of course, is that DMLS and SLM produce parts out of metal.

Why to choose Metal AM?

This technology combines the design flexibility of 3D Printing with the mechanical properties of metal. From tooling inserts with cooling channels to lightweight structures for aerospace, any application that involves complex metal parts potentially benefits from Metal 3D Printing.

Ideal Applications:

  • Fully functional prototypes

  • Production tools

  • Tooling such as molds and inserts

  • Rigid housings

  • Ductwork

  • Spare parts

  • Heat exchangers and heatsinks

Materials:

 

Vacuum Casting (VC)

How VC works

How VC works?

The VC process starts by placing a two piece silicone mold in a vacuum chamber. The raw material is mixed with degassed and then poured into the mold. The vacuum is then released and the mold removed from the chamber. Finally, the casting is cured in an oven and the mold removed to release the completed casting.

Why to choose VC?

Vacuum Casting is a copying technique used for the production of small series of functional plastic parts. Using two-component polyurethanes and silicone molds, Vacuum Casting is known for its fast production of high-quality prototypes or end-use products. Silicone molding results in high-quality parts comparable to injection-molded components. This makes vacuum casted models especially suitable for fit and function testing, marketing purposes or a series of final parts in limited quantities. Vacuum Casting also lends itself well to a variety of finishing degrees, and we can match the finish you need for your parts.

Ideal Applications:

  • Pre-launch product testing

  • Small series of housings and covers

  • Concept models and prototypes

Materials:

 

Industries Adopting AM

aerospace

Commercial planes take years to hit the market, following painstaking design processes and rigorous quality checks: so rigorous that the plane is likely to be in good flying condition for 25 to 30 years. But that doesn’t mean the aircraft stays unchanged throughout its lifespan: you don’t really want a plane to look or act its age. It takes quality engineering to get an aircraft up in the sky. And with the design freedom offered by Additive Manufacturing, producing aircraft is becoming more efficient and cost-effective than ever. From lightweight components to certified series production.

Architecture

Every building starts with a model. And when you’re creating the next architectural masterpiece, you want every detail to be perfect.  Scale models helps them and their clients visualize ideas realistically and vividly. Traditional ways of designing and assembling scale-models are tedious, costly, and rely heavily on handful skilled craftsmen. 3D printing is set to revolutionize the way architects explore designs and innovate. 3D printing for architects empowers them easily create complex, accurate and durable scale models quickly and cost-effectively. Magnificent 3D printed architectural scale models can help architects impress their clients create and seize more opportunities. All of this can be done in-house, in a matter of clicks.

art & fashion

Great designs starts with big ideas. And when those ideas are so big they can’t be realized with a conventional art form, it’s time to get creative. With 3D Printing, design limitations are a thing of the past – your creation is in the hands of your imagination.

Automotive

The automotive industry continuously requires faster and more cost-effective development and production. Traditional ways of working no longer do the trick if you want to stay ahead of the curve. At Materialise, we apply innovative technology to take you from concept to car in the highest gear. You focus on your car development, while we leverage our 3D printing expertise to speed up the process from design to manufacturing.

Healthcare

Every patient is unique. And every surgery needs a unique approach. From visualizing the human anatomy in 3D to holding a 3D-printed model of your own heart, we’re getting closer to providing patient-specific care for everyone. Let’s build a healthier world together.

manufacturing 

Additive Manufacturing helps you not only to reduce lead times and total cost of complex components, it allows you to improve their performance, weight and functionality too. 3D Printing is used to create functional end-use components in plastics as well as metals. AM has proven that it’s capable of great things: transforming supply chains, empowering customization, disrupting entire industries. With the right application and the right design approach, serial production with 3D Printing is the future called reality. 

  • Design complex components without adding cost

  • Create functional designs without manufacturing limitations

  • Revise and update designs constantly

  • Skip investment in manufacturing tools

  • Shorten time to market

  • Eliminate stock-related costs and risks

consumer goods

Completely individualized product that can be manufactured in a batch and that can help startups for predictable demand planning. In a market where consumers want to stand out from the crowd, 3D Printing helps you create products that are unique to the individual. Mass customization and personalization options offer unlimited potential to deliver bespoke products.