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Rods vs Slurries vs Pellets in 3D Printing

  • August 20, 2020

Fused filament fabrication (FFF) printers are designed to build objects by depositing material onto a print bed. They don’t deposit all the material at once. Rather, they deposit material layer by layer. FFF printers, however, may use one of three types of materials: rods, slurries or pellets. The material itself usually consists of plastic or thermoplastic. So, what’s the difference between rods, slurries and pellets?

What Are Rods?

A rod is a cylinder of raw material that’s used to build objects. Rods are essentially cylinders of plastic. During operation, an FFF printer will feed the rod through its nozzle, thereby extruding and releasing the plastic onto the print bed.

Rods are usually heated before the FFF printer releases the material. As the FFF printer feeds the rod through its nozzle, it heats the material. The heated plastic is then released onto the print bed. Many FFF printers either use or support the use of rods. It’s an easy and effective way for FFF printers to build objects.

What Are Slurries?

Slurries are powder particles that FFF printers use to build objects. The powder particles aren’t dry. Instead, they are mixed in a liquid, resulting in a paste-like consistency. The FFF printer releases the powder-based liquid through its nozzle and onto the print bed. Once deposited, the liquid will evaporate, leaving behind only the dry powder particles.

Slurries aren’t as common as rods. However, you’ll still find FFF printers that support them. They release the powder-based liquid out their nozzle, allowing them to build objects layer by layer.

What Are Pellets?

Pellets, as you may have guessed, are small granules of material. Like rods and slurries, they usually consist of plastic or thermoplastic compounds. The difference is that pellets are shaped like small beads or pellets. In comparison, rods are shaped like cylinders, whereas slurries consist of powder particles suspended in a liquid medium.

FFF printers that use pellets will typically heat them before releasing the material onto the print bed. The pellets are fed through the nozzle via a rotating screw, which extrudes the material onto the print bed.

It’s important to note that many FFF printers use filament. After all, that’s why they are called “fused filament fabrication” printers. Nonetheless, many of them support the use of rods, slurries or pellets. All three of these solutions generally consist of plastic or thermoplastic. Rods, slurries and pellets simply have different shapes and consistencies.

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