You have heard so many great things about the 3D printers and various things that you can do with them. There are several wonderful 3D machines that can bring you 3D printing dreams to life.
We often see ourselves as being confused with which 3D printer to buy. As there are a myriad of options to select from, hence a few determinants need to be adhered to in order to make the best choice.
Let us talk about it in detail for our readers to gain a deeper understanding and make a wise choice.
Answer a few questions before buying:
Before you move ahead with considering the determinants, you need to ask yourself a few questions such as the following:
- What is your budget?
As buyers, we need to decide the budget at the very beginning stage of any purchase. The 3D printers usually range from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.
As the price range tends to vary, so does the budget of a consumer and Ekocycle released a list of the best budget 3D printers recently which you can check.
- What size prints do you require?
As per your printing requirements and needs, you need to determine the product. Apart from the usual size, there are varied massive sizes available as well.
- Your level of experience
You need to determine your level of experience and select whether this is going to be your first printer or you have experience in the field If this is the first time you are going to use a printer, then you need to opt for a user-friendly appliance like the printer.
Likewise, if you have an optimum knowledge of its usage, you can make your pick accordingly.
- Materials of printing
Most of us usually tend to print with the help of a vegetable-based plastic known as PLA. This go-to material, however, cannot suffice the needs of all.
Many of you might require flexibility, increased strength and even glow in the dark. Depending upon your requirement, you will further determine the features such as heat resistant parts, heated bed and so on.
- Filament size
Determine whether you have a particular filament size that is essential for your work
- The intended purpose of the prints
Before buying a printer, you might have a particular goal in mind. For example, you need to ask yourself a few questions such as, whether you need to print armor and props, or if the prints need to be food-safe, and a few similar other questions.
- How hands-on do you plan to be?
Determine whether you need to build it from a kit, or you have it delivered pre-built. Additionally, consider a few things such as does it need to be ideal on delivery or you are willing to put in a considerable amount of money, effort and time to upgrade it.
- What kind of warranty do you require?
While a number of printers come with very less or zero warranty, some even have extended warranty. When I had ordered my first 3D printer, it somehow stopped working after a few days and thankfully for the warranty I had, I could get a new one
On the basis of your operating system such as Mac/Windows/Linux, you need to choose a 3D printer for yourself.
- Who will use the 3D printer?
You also need to take into consideration whether you, your parents, kids or grandparents will use the product. The printer that will be used by me will totally differ from a printer used by my kids. Hence, the decision needs to be taken accordingly.
Important determinants to consider before choosing a 3D printer:
While choosing a 3D printer for use, it is essential to make a few determinants as stated in the following:
Among a varied consideration, printing technology is one such important consideration that is beneficial for describing a number of technologies.
FDM essentially stands for Fused Deposition Modelling where the machine makes use of a thin plastic wire known as filament and uses it as an input raw material. This is then sent to the print head where the plastic gets melted.
At this stage, it further moves in 3 dimensions while forming a horizontal layer of plastic. The process gets repeated building a number of layers one on top of another.
This printing technology is rather an affordable one and ideal for large and general-purpose parts.
However, the resolution tends to be lower as compared to other technologies. This is essentially due to the plastic having a minimum thickness.
The machines are beneficial for producing horizontal layers that offer thickness of 100 microns to 300 microns. While the layers are visible to the eye the parts further can feel a little rough when touched.
The machines make use of a light-sensitive liquid known as resin. The process of printing, known as stereolithography or SLAA means writing with light.
The resins turn to solid from the liquid when being exposed to light. The machine comes with a tray being filled with resin which makes use of a light source like that of a laser and draws the shape out effectively.
The exposed areas turn solid while all remaining parts are unchanged. The machine moves the part in a vertical manner while building another one touching the former one. This process gets repeated until and unless you build the entire part.
SLA machines produce extremely smooth parts with finer details, however, the raw materials and machines tend to be a bit expensive.
Search for compatibility
A filament refers to a 3D printing material that resembles a long cable beneficial for the 3D printing process which is the most common technology used across lower-cost desktop machines.
A dozen of printing materials can be found out there. ABS and PLA are the most popular form of filaments. Both of them are thermoplastics and hence you can cool and heat them repeatedly to acquire a desired 3D shape.
Acquired from fossil fuel, ABS is extremely strong and durable while being highly resistant to temperature. Hence, it serves as being a hot favourite among professionals in the field of mass manufacturing.
Manufactured from renewable resources like corn and sugarcane, PLA is biodegradable. The objects can be printed with sharp corners and thin layers. Being available in varied colours, PLA is preferred by hobbyists and individuals.
Users can choose from multiple options such as resins, nylon, PVA, HIPS, Wood and so on. Metals, engineering-grade plastics, and specialty materials are in need of robust machines.
Size of the object
Another determinant that you need to keep in mind is the size of the objects that you wish to print. It can help in determining the build volume or the maximum print size you are looking at. Large build volume helps to print larger objects.
It is important to consider that most of the desktop printers comprise of moderate or lower build volume. Additionally, most of the printers usually fall short of the Z-axis. Hence, the final pick will depend upon the size of the object you wish to print.
The speed of printing
Believe it or not, the speed of printing is extremely essential. Although we tend to overlook the speed, however, it can sometimes test your patience real bad.
Higher resolution means improved details and hence needs slow printing speed. The printer configuration and its quality play a fundamental role in determining the speed of printing.
For example, a small nozzle tends to produce superfine prints, however at a considerably low speed. On the other hand, a larger nozzle with work a lot quicker and also will not compromise the print quality.
Determine the level of skill
3D printing is an emerging and complex technology, and it will require a considerable amount of time to master the most user-friendly 3D printer.
Users will need to evaluate and comprehend the varied settings in the software such as picking the right printing material along with opting for the optimal speed of printing.
Users also need to evaluate the strengths and limitations of the printer.
Hence, if you have not used any 3D printer earlier, you need to try out the most basic models first and then slowly work your way as the skills tend to sharpen up.
Instead of overestimating the technical skills you possess, make sure you opt for the one that you can operate.
3D printing is slowly becoming a part of mainstream technology. Being one of the rapidly evolving technologies, the arena of 3D printing is quite huge.
Hence, before you set your foot in the realm, it is essential to keep in mind a few pointers that will help you make the right choice.
Are you looking for a 3D printer? You might want to check Ekocycle. Do let us know in the comment section about which determinant helped you the most in making the right decision.