3D Printing has many forms. they all have their own strengths and weaknesses so its important to make sure that you select the one that fits your requirements. When doing this you need to consider the 5 key criteria to determine which one matches your needs.

1.) Budget
2.) Appearance
3.) Material selection
4.) Geometry
5.) Mechanical Properties

  • MSLA – Masked Stereolithography
  • SLS – Selective Laser Sintering
  • FDM – Fused Deposition Modelling
  • DLP – Digital Light Process
  • MJF – Multi Jet Fusion
  • DLMS – Direct Metal Laser Sintering
  • EBM – Electron Beam Melting

MSLA – Masked Stereolithography

What is it?
SLA printing works by shining LED light through a LCD photo mask (think of a shadow puppet show) onto a tank of photosensitive resin, creating a very thin solid layer of resin, the build plate then moves up and repeats the process to gradually build up the solid object.

Prusa SL1


  • You can print parts with small features
  • Small tolerances
  • Smooth finished surfaces
  • Reduces support material requirements
  • Multiple items can be printed just as quickly as a single item
  • Drawbacks


  • Prints always need post processing to remove and clean and cure resin
  • Un cured resin can be harmful to skin and needs to be ventilated
  • Print sizes are usually smaller
  • Resin is messy to clean and handle

What is it?
The simplest way to describe it is melting plastic and squirting it through a very fine nozzle. Similar to using a piping bag to draw with icing on a kitchen worktop.

FDM – Fused Deposition Modelling

PrusaMK3S & MMU2S


  • Easy and fast to setup and print
  • Clean and does not produce noxious fumes
  • Less post processing required
  • A wide range of materials with varying properties
  • Cheaper to manufacture


  • Requires support material to print designs that have gaps or bridges (you cant print in thin air)
  • Not as accurate as other forms of 3D Manufacture
  • Less vertical strength
  • Slow to build up mass parts

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