1. Digital Fabrication
The term digital fabrication refers to any type of manufacturing process where three-dimensional objects are built using additive processes. The technology behind these types of machines is called Computer Numerical Control (CNC) and is used to create parts and products in various industries including metalworking, plastic injection molding, wood working, and jewelry making.
2. CNC Machines
A CNC machine is a computer numerically controlled device that cuts, drills, sands, molds, and engraves materials. These machines are programmed to follow a series of instructions and cut material based on those instructions. A CNC machine can be programmed to perform specific tasks such as milling, drilling, turning, cutting, carving, sanding, routing, and engraving.
3. Laser Cutting Machine
Laser cutting machines use a laser beam to remove material from a sheet of stock material. The laser beam melts away the material and then cools down to leave a clean edge around the object being created. Laser cutting machines are commonly used for cutting plastics, metals, and woods.
4. 3D Printers
3D printers are devices that build three dimensional objects out of thin layers of material. The first layer of material is laid down and then additional layers are added until the entire object is complete. Most 3D printers have a heated bed that keeps the bottom layer of material warm while the top layer cools off and hardens. Once the print is finished, the completed product can be removed from the printer.
5. Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)
Fused deposition modeling uses a heated nozzle to melt thermoplastic filament and deposit it onto a platform. As the filament is deposited, it solidifies and builds up to make a three dimensional shape. FDM printers are great for printing small items at home or in small businesses.
6. Stereolithography (SLA)
Stereolithography is a method of building three dimensional objects using photopolymers. Photopolymers are liquid resins that are hardened when exposed to ultraviolet light. SLA machines expose liquid resin to UV light and then harden them into solid shapes. The final result is a three dimensional object that looks similar to a wax sculpture.
7. Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
Selective laser sintering is a technique used to produce three dimensional objects from powdered materials. In selective laser sintering, a laser is used to fuse together tiny particles of powders into a solid mass. The end result is a three dimensional model that resembles a piece of jewelry or figurine.