Other 3D Printing Options

Summary of 3D Printing with the Makerspaces

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3D Printing is actually a large umbrella term describing additive manufacturing methods that work on the principle of adding material together into a solid object. In the Maker Spaces, we host 5 different types of 3D Printing technologies. If the NExT Lab's technologies are not suitable for your projects, another Maker Space may provide your requirements:

NExT Lab

Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM)


Binder Jetting (Powder)

Multi-Jet Fusion (MJF)

Stereolitography (SLA) Resin

Robotics Lab

Robotic Arm Clay Extrusion

Fused Deposition Modelling (NExT Lab)

Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) is a material-extrusion based additive manufacturing process. Objects are built layer by layer, following a software-generated path. It is the primary 3D printing technology employed at the NExT Lab.

A solid, thermoplastic filament (most commonly ABS, PETG and PLA) is heated to melting point (usually between 180° and 220°, and fed through a small nozzle (most commonly 0.4mm in diameter).

The nozzle follows paths that are generated in a slicing software (such as Makerbot Print, Ultimaker Cura or Slic3r). This software is also used to generate the necessary support structure and infill to ensure that the object is printed accurately.

This is the primary method of 3D Printing employed at the NExT Lab.

Advantages of FDM

Disadvantages of FDM

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

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

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

  1. FDM has the lowest dimensional accuracy and resolution compared to other 3D printing technologies, so it is not suitable for parts with intricate details. 

  2. FDM parts are likely to have visible layer lines, so post processing is required for a smooth finish. 

  3. The layer adhesion mechanism makes FDM parts inherently anisotropic. 

Additional 3D Printing Technologies

Whilst the NExT Lab is home to only FDM machines, the Fab Lab has a Project 660 Pro Powder Printer (Binder Jetting), HP Jet Fusion 4200 and Formlabs Form 3 (SLA / Resin). To help you with your selection of fabrication method, it is important to determine early whether the main design consideration is function or visual appearance.

Fabrication Method




Other Specific Requirements

Plastic - FDM (NExT Lab)


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Need to Consider:

• Support Material

• Part Orientation

• Part Thickness

Powder - Binder Jetting

$ $ $

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Need to Consider:

• Part Thickness

• Material Escapement

Multi-Jet Fusion

$ $ $ $

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Need to Consider:

• Part Thickness

• Material Escapement

Resin - SLA

$ $

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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Need to Consider:

• Support Material

• Part Orientation

• Washing and curing time

Follow the page links to check out these alternative 3D Printing technologies:

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