3D Printing Technologies Compared – DLS vs. SLS, FFF, and Binder Jetting

Digital light synthesis (DLS) is an innovative additive manufacturing method that’s great for producing custom, well-finished plastic parts quickly and consistently. That’s why it’s our choice additive manufacturing method at Elite Mold and Engineering to complement our core injection molding capabilities.


Carbon Digital Light Synthesis (DLS) 3D Printing Technology

We utilize Carbon’s digital light synthesis (DLS) 3D printing technology to perform rapid prototyping, offering fast turnaround and ease of modification during the product development process.

For our customers, we’ve found this method to be the perfect bridge between prototyping and production. And because DLS produces such quality parts with premium surface finishes comparable to injection molded products, we can even accommodate some lower-volume runs entirely with our 3D printing services.

However, DLS isn’t the only game in town. There are many other unique methods of additive manufacturing that some of our customers have inquired about. Below, we discuss some of these most popular alternative methods, and how they compare to DLS.

4 Alternative Additive Manufacturing Processes to Digital Light Processing (DLS)

Stereolithography (SLA)

As a vat photopolymerization process, SLA falls in the same technological category as DLS. The two processes both print plastic parts through the selective exposure of liquid photopolymers – essentially using light to solidify the plastic. However, the source of the light in the two processes is quite different.

DLS uses digital light projection (DLP) to cast light in a precise area – analogous to a film projector. In contrast, SLA uses laser technology with a single-point focus. DLS can therefore print parts much faster for more production capacity, especially in the case of large components.

Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF)

Fused filament 3D printing processes have traditionally been the most common additive manufacturing services. The material extrusion process is quite different from both DLS and SLA, precisely depositing melted plastic filament to build up the part layer by layer. Though the process is relatively simple and straightforward, there are limitations when compared to more advanced 3D printing methods like DLS. The lower resolution of FFF combined with potential side effects like part warping and layer shifting make the process less well-suited for products with intricate designs and/or precision tolerances.

Binder Jetting

Binder jetting is one of the fastest 3D printing methods available for production volume parts. It’s also one of the simplest additive manufacturing processes – the one that is most similar to traditional paper printing. Using liquid binding agents, an inkjet prints the part layer-by-layer onto a bed of powder. However, the downside compared to DLS is that binder jet printed parts are structurally weaker and not as consistent, limiting its market applications.

Offering Additive Manufacturing to the Great Lakes Region and Beyond

Elite Mold and Engineering is one of America’s leading providers specializing in additive manufacturing and 3D printing services. Utilizing Carbon’s DLS 3D printing technology, we provide our customers with a streamlined source for prototype printed parts and low-volume orders in addition to our full-service injection molding capabilities.

Published: June 2, 2023
Additive Manufacturing products

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