Facilities & methods


Technical aspects, such as build volumes, layer thicknesses, colors and materials can be found at the Mizzou Rapid Prototyping facilities link below.

Prototype Development Facility University of Missouri Engineering

The rapid prototyping lab on the University of Missouri-Columbia campus has many of the major additive manufacturing technologies available to industry today. Our program uses these facilities in order to educate and provide valuable service to those businesses in need of a cost-effective alternative to classical manufacturing techniques.

Fused deposition modeling (FDM)

Fused deposition modeling uses extruder heads to melt and deposit semi-liquid thermoplastics onto a build tray. The material properties used by FDM technology are unique in that they are thermo grade plastic able to withstand high heat, liquids, chemicals, and are relatively strong.  As each layer is placed onto the build tray the bed is lowered allowing the extruder to deposit the next layer. The support materials for FDM processes can be either the same material woven sparsely or a completely different material dissolved in a post-process bath.

A chain link printed using PJP with no post assembly required.

A chain link printed using PJP with no post assembly required.

Poly-jet printing (PJP)

Poly-jet printing (PJP) uses multiple printer heads, with multiple materials rapidly cured with ultraviolet light lamps as soon as the material is deposited. This process has one of the highest resolutions available in the field. As the printer finishes each successive layer, the printing bed lowers and allows the printer to build the next layer. Support material is printed simultaneously and then rinsed away with water post processing.

Stereolithography (SLA)

Stereolithography (SLA) uses a bed of liquid photopolymer resin cured with ultraviolet light via a laser. The build tray is initially fully submersed in the resin and then the build tray slowly rises as each layer is completed. Once completed the part is removed from the build chamber and placed in a chamber that bathes the part in UV light for post curing. The support material for SLA are microstructures put in by the program and cured in the same way as the original part. After the initial curing is complete the microstructures can then be broken away.

Selective laser sintering (SLS)

Selective laser sintering (SLS) uses a very fine nylon powder melted via an overhead laser. A bed of powdered material is layered across the entire build volume and the laser traces the build shape and melts the plastic powder. Once completed with each layer the build tray lowers and allows a roller to travel overhead and place more fine powder. The process is then repeated. The material retains some of the original material properties such as flexibility, but can also be slightly porous. The support material is the powder not being melted by the laser. Post processing requires the removal of all the excess powder, that can then be mixed with new powder and used again.

Binder jetting printing (BJP)

A bust of Egyptian nobility, created using BJP with University facilities.

A bust of Egyptian nobility, created using BJP with University facilities.

Binder jet printing (BJP) uses a technique similar to a traditional paper printer and is often referred to as the original 3D printing technique. The ink found in traditional printer cartridges is replaced by a resin. The printer heads have a full color spectrum available and print onto a gypsum powder bed. After each successive layer, the bed is lowered and more powder is spread over the build platform. The powder that is not infused with the binder stays loose and can be blown and brushed away during post processing. The final part out of the printer is fragile and can only be handled after it has been sufficiently bathed in additional binding resin to provide extra hardness.