Is it better to use an FFF or an SLA 3D printer? In this Ask Us Anything Segment, Tom and Tracy Hazzard take a closer look at fused filament fabrication and stereolithography, talking about which project suits best when done on each of the medium and which produces the quality desired depending on the designs you want. They also discuss about color quality and which can be used efficiently for creating models. You wouldn’t want to miss this episode to find out which route is more feasible.
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FFF Vs SLA 3D Printing
This is our Ask Us Anything segment.
Our question comes in from Lino who’s an industrial designer in Venice Beach, California.
He called in over our website and you hit the Ask Us tab on our website, HazzDesign.com. You use your computer or your phone and then ask us anything about 3D printing.
Lino asked us what kind of 3D printer is better, an FFF or FDM type of machine which uses a filament or an SLA resin type of 3D printer like the Form 1+.
We should explain that although we are talking about FFF and FDM here, it’s not that we think that there’s a better or worse. It’s just what we’re talking about here because we think they’re a little better for making the end product.
The reality is that depending on what it is you’re going to make, one printer might be better for you than another. We’re designers as well. For us, color is important and having a print come off of the printer in the final color that you’re trying to make it. For us, it’s something important. We didn’t want to have to deal with post finishing processes.
We didn’t want to paint. We didn’t want to do any of that. We have done that before with the SLA process but over the years, we prototyped that way with various clients and other things. It’s not like we haven’t done it that way and then painted it or post finished it or whatever. We’ve done them maybe with more expensive machines and now they’re great desktop machines. We’ve seen some great prints come off Form 1. That is an awesome machine for the price.
That’s the key difference. The quality that you get from the Form 1 is consistent. That printer is easy in terms of plug and play to get up and running.
I’m excited about the new carbon 3D too. That one is amazing. Not only is it good but it’s fast.
From our reports, that’s the fastest one as reported by media.
If your point is to make prototypes as an industrial design, you might make prototypes for your clients and you need to have them painted and finished in their factory or in their sample shop, SLA is perfectly fine for you because the fineness of the quality is better. If your goal is to make end-products and do it yourself or do something that cannot be done in another manufacturing technique that can only be done with 3D printing, an FFF is better.
The other thing that I prefer about FFF printers is that you don’t have to do anything to the part when it comes off the printer. This is different from an SLA printer. If you’ve never used one, SLA uses a liquid resin that’s cured by UV light. Even after that part is completely printed and you take it out of the printer, you have to bathe that part in an alcohol bath to clean off the remainder resin that is uncured from it. It’s a curing finishing process. The resin colors they make, you can count on the fingers of one hand. It’s white, black, red, clear. They have a rubbery one. There’s a few more coming out, but there are limited color options with the resins. Because you have to do this post finishing with alcohol and you have to use gloves when you do it, it’s a little messy for my taste.
We’re in a home office. It’s probably not ideal for us. It’s a great prototype machine. If that’s your goal, maybe this is perfect for you. We like the opportunity to be able to make the end-product and the FFF makes better end-products in a variety of colors.
We’re not interested in being painting technicians, the art of painting a model and masking it in different areas to get it to look professional and the way you want it to at the end.
The other thing is we have a lot of prototypes sources we’ve used and they’re much cheaper. We make an entire chair basis and things that these prototypes resources. For us to make models, it doesn’t make sense. We don’t do that but maybe you do.
The cliché is different strokes for different folks. We’re not saying one is better than the other. We happen to be going down the FFF route for valid reasons and there are plenty of good reasons to use those other printers. It depends on what you do. It’s all about the what.
What’s the FFF to print? If you are interested in asking a question like Lino, then go to our website, the Ask Us tab and click on our SpeakPipe and give us a one-minute message and question.
Thank you so much and we’ll talk to you next time on WTFFF?!.
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