form1plus-hero-modelsOne of the more confusing areas for people just getting into 3D printing – and even for those with experience – is distinguishing what sets one printing technology apart from another. In desktop 3D printing alone, there are a wide range of printing methods to choose from, and it’s growing consistently as researchers and manufacturers continue to tweak existing technologies and push the boundaries of what they can do. If you’re trying to decide on what kind of printer to buy, there’s a lot of information to consider – and it doesn’t help that many printing technologies are so similar to each other.

If you want to be meticulous about considering all of your options, you can test out different types of printers at your local 3D Hubs or makerspaces, but there are plenty of resources online to help you understand the pros and cons of each kind of 3D printing technology, and which will best suit your needs. A webinar is a great tool for educating yourself about a topic like 3D printing, whether or not you’re currently in the market for a printer yourself.

Formlabs_Logo_2014-grey_preferred_1 (1)On August 4, 3DPrint.com will be hosting a webinar entitled ‘How to Choose the Right 3D Printing Technology – FDM vs SLA vs SLS.’ It will be presented by Formlabs, the five-year-old upstart startup responsible for bringing stereolithography, or SLA, 3D printing to the desktop market. In a 2012 Kickstarter campaign, the Massachusetts company introduced their Form 1 SLA desktop 3D printer, turning what had been strictly an industrial 3D printing method for 30 years into an affordable desktop technology.

Formlabs, which currently sells two printer models: the Form 1+ and the Form 2, not only brought SLA technology to the desktop, but further adapted it for a wider range of applications. Their resin materials have expanded from standard offerings to flexible and castable resins to even biocompatible dental materials, introduced recently and another first for desktop 3D printing. All of this is to say that if you’re looking for expert information on SLA technology, Formlabs can provide just the expertise you seek.

So what’s so great about SLA? Plenty of things, including speed, resolution, and versatility – but like any technology, it’s not ideal for every application. Then there’s the fact that other technologies like FDM (fused deposition modeling) and SLS (selective laser sintering) look very similar, but possess certain key differences that make one method superior to the others in some areas, but inferior in others.

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It’s confusing, and can be overwhelming, so Formlabs aims to clear things up for you in the August 4th webinar. They’ll be thoroughly comparing and contrasting SLA, FDM and SLS technologies, so even if you’re pretty well-versed in one or all of them already, there’s still more to learn. The framework of the class will be broken down into the following areas of focus:

  • History of SLA, FDM and SLS printing technologies
  • Suggested usage for each method
  • Design guidelines and tips for making the most of each technology
  • Example case studies and applications

The live webinar will be kicking off at 1 PM EST on August 4, and you can register here. If you’re unavailable during that time period, register anyway, and Formlabs will email you a recording of the webinar after it wraps up. And – like the last webinar we hosted – it’s free! Discuss further in the 3DPrint.com/Formlabs Webinar forum over at 3DPB.com.

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