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A thermoplastic filament is supplied to an extrusion nozzle which heats the material passed it’s glass transition temperature. Once heated, the material is extruded (or dispensed ) onto the build plate layer by layer.
The Fused Deposition Modelling style of printing regained popularity after a patent expired, which allowed it to become a large open source project in a community called RepRap. It is also known as Fused filament fabrication.
The material is hardened immediately after being pushed out of the nozzle and more material can then be built onto it. The nozzle is computer controlled to follow a specific tool path based on a model designed on a Computer Assisted Drawing software.
Stereolithography is an additive manufacturing process that uses light to cure photosensitive resin to form a model.
The resin is cured on a build platform that moves upwards after each layer is exposed to light. The use of supporting structures is still needed and a few more steps are introduced into the finishing process.
Since the part is created in a resin filled vat, the uncured resin surrounding the part needs to be washed off. A curing of the part is then needed to insure rigidity and a final drying process is also required.
Parts made through Stereolithography printing are more precise than traditional FDM methods.