In this instructable I will tell you about the different types of 3D printers and how they work. Hopefully, if you don't already have a printer, this instructable will make you get one!
Step 1: Different Types of Printers
There are 4 main types of printers, and each have their up and downsides. The three main ones are FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling), SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) and SLA (Sterolithography). The final one is polyjet, however it is proprietary to the Objet series of printers.
Step 2: SLA
SLA uses a photo resin which is cured by lasers to produce and amazingly high quality product. Unfortunately, I don't actually own one, so the images are going to be rudimentary diagrams. Obviously, the most important part of this setup is the laser itself.
SLA prints are sometimes harder to execute because many printers use a top-down method, where the piece is essentially dangling from the build plate. Still, this makes for a much more precise printing method.
Step 3: SLS
Again, since SLS printers are a "little" more expensive, I can't really get hands on with one. However, the system is quite simple. There is a material bank. The material is composed of whatever plastic or metal in a powder, as well as a binding agent that melts. The laser will burn, and slowly, you will have a figure that is building up. As you progress from layer to layer, the build platform moves down, so that the roller can push more material onto the top.
Step 4: FDM
This is the most common type of printing. FDM, or fused deposition modeling is the type of printer most of you have at home. It comprises of 4 essential parts. A build plate, the axes, an extruder assemblage and a hotend + fans. For those of you who can't tell, my printer is an Ultimaker 2, but the parts on any FDM printer are virtually the same save for the size of the axes and build plate.