The world of 3D printing is amazing and nearly limitless. With many types of printers and hundreds of models available, there is a lot to take in.
3D print technology has been around since the 1980s. Until recently, it was predominantly used for rapid prototyping, but over the past few years, it has achieved mainstream popularity as a viable means of manufacturing final products or components.
The current generation of 3D printers are falling within financial reach of us all, so if you are looking to join the 3D print revolution, there is a great range to choose from, whatever your budget.
When it comes to choosing a 3D printer it is important to consider a few key factors: price, size, speed, layer, resolution, safety, and compatible filament types.
Tips For Choosing The Best 3D Printer
Here we take a look at three points you need to consider, to make a perfect choice.
What Are You Printing?
Logically enough, the first point you need to consider is the purpose for which you intend to use your printer. Is it just for fun, for example, to make trinkets and simple sculptures on a hobby basis?
Do you need to use it for artistic or research purposes to make practical objects or prototypes? Or perhaps it is for manufacturing purposes to make high-quality articles or components for commercial sale.
What Are Your Printing Materials?
For starters, a typical consumer 3D printer is essential and can make use of a hot glue gun controlled by a computer which is known as Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF). It works by laying down the consecutive layers of materials at high temperatures.
However, the two most common materials are ABS and PLA. ABS is robust and cost-effective, but needs a heated printer bed, and can give off toxic fumes, so you need to factor in an effective means of venting these away.
PLA is an organic material that comes in a variety of colors. It is simple to use and does not require the heated bed, so no problem with fumes. But it doesn’t end there because you might need flexibility, or even glow in the dark or metal filaments.
While PLA sounds like a winner, it is significantly more expensive and can be brittle. The ideal solution is to choose a machine that can handle both materials, although this will, of course, mean paying a little more.
For hobby use, there are some good low-cost choices that just use PLA. Both are thermoplastics which will become soft and malleable when heated and becomes frozen when cooled.
The quality of the printers depends on the print resolution and print speed. Resolution is measured in terms of the X, Y and Z axes, to define the precision of the head’s positioning on the printer bed and the thickness of the print layer respectively.
It is important to understand how the resolution is measured, as it has a fundamental impact on your final output. Of course, finer resolution means better quality but bear in mind that print speed and the material you are using will also have an effect.
Most 3D printers have a range of layer resolution between 0.05mm and 0.4mm. As a general rule, the 100-micron resolution should be suitable for beginners, while professionals are likely to be looking in the sub 50-micron region.
What’s The Price?
Prices depend mainly on the quality of the output. The higher quality printers range from $1000-$2000 and the simple model printer range from $100. The quality of the printers depends upon the price.
How About The Safety?
To choose the best 3D printer you should also consider the safety factors because these printers are heated plastics. When the print bed gets hot it may cause bad burns.
So have extra caution with these printers while working. It is necessary to keep the 3D printers in a well-ventilated room. All you need to make sure is the brand of printers so that you can use safely.
The Future Of Manufacture
There is no doubt that 3D printing is one of the greatest technological innovations in recent years. While it is becoming more affordable for hobby use, it is still very much a developing technology, so choose carefully to make the ideal choice for your situation.