3D Printer Buying Guide - How To Purchase The Best 3D Printer?
3D printers are slowly becoming popular due to the myriad uses. Thanks to technological advances in hardware production, owning a 3D printer nowadays has become more affordable. Now they have come in varied models, with new innovations and you would have to find out what you want out of one before deciding what to buy.
How Does a 3D Printer Work?
Creating a 3D Model via 3D Modeling Software
First, you'd have to create the concept via a 3D Model then you can either make yourself one or download from a 3D repository. When making a model for yourself you can use a 3D modeling software, 3D scanner,an app, or maybe a haptic device. As a beginner, you can acquire an open-source 3D software online for free, or If you need an industrial-grade type, then you might have to pay for it.
With the use of a slicing software, you can slice your model into hundreds, or thousands of horizontal layers. Once the slicing is complete the file is now ready to be fed into the 3D printer. It is then printed layer by layer.
Actual Printing (FDM and SLA)
A 3D printer operates in a way that is similar to an inkjet printer. It follows design from the data on the computer, which is then fed to the printer itself. One of the more popular types would be the FDM process otherwise known as Fused Depositional Modeling. It builds models in 3D starting from the bottom layer by layer going upward. Generally, this process makes use of production-grade thermoplastics namely, ABS, Otom, and polycarbonates which are both durable and functional.
With the aid of 3D CAD (Computer Aided Drafting), an FDM 3D printer runs a fully automated process. It creates models by laying 2-dimensional layers on top of one another, much like a printer nozzle jet. However, instead of using ink it uses an extruder to push molten plastic out of the nozzle. The nozzle moves precisely according to the mapped out model. The layers are then stuck together using an adhesive or via ultraviolet light. ABS thermoplastics work well with 3D printers because of its versatile composition. It is made out of tough plastic and synthetic rubber. It has good malleability when molten, and is sturdy when cooled and dried. It is the actual kind of plastic that they use in LEGO blocks.
Stereolithography 3D printing is one of the most popular forms of 3D printing in the past and even up to the present. This is due to its capability of reproducing highly-detailed and accurate 3D products. In this type of printer, an extruder and direct heat are both replaced by a reservoir that is filled with liquid resin and a low-powered laser. With pinpoint accuracy, the laser hits and hardens the resin.
The laser draws the initial image of the model into the liquid resin, and wherever it points it solidifies. Once the object is completed, the excess resin is drained out. The final product then is removed from the platform and washed off of any excess resin. After that, it is put in a UV oven for curing in which the curing process helps in making the 3D object strong and stable.
Benefits Of Purchasing A 3D Printer
You can use a 3D printer to replace things at home that you would have not thought about. It could be things like soap holders, flower pots, plastic knobs or maybe even plastic gears. The possibilities are endless.
There is always the question of how you are going to spend family time with your kids. You might want something that is recreational and productive. We also want something educational but not boring. Well, the good news is 3D printing could be a very good way to go with encouraging your kids to be creative and practical as well.
Although it's not much of a hands-on activity much like Legos or maybe paper mache, it definitely stirs up your creative juices when it comes to deciding what object you would like to print in a 3-dimensional form, 3D printing is hands down a lot more refined and on point when it comes to detail. All it takes is an STL file as a basis for the design.
Earn Money Through 3D Printing
You can begin by selling 3D printed objects as a part-time hustle. You can also do practical things like phone cases with special functions such as additional slots for cards (ID, credit card, etc.). Or, maybe you can spend time making toys and even sell to your neighbors. Again, many things can come from this machine that still yet has to achieve its full potential as a viable and practical instrument looking into the future.
What Do I Want to Print?
One of the advantages of creating art through 3D printing is the fact that you can make detailed 3D images that you have created using a computer. Your creation can come to life with the most intricate details and lifelike interpretation that would otherwise not be possible if merely done by hand.
3D printing with its all-weather resin components may come very useful when it comes to decorating your lawn or maybe an ornamental garden. Your printer can build things that are resistant to natural elements, such as pots and medium-sized figurines that you can put on display out on the lawn.
You can also come up with unique designs for ordinary household products like cellphone holders, pen holders, medium size plastic bookcases, and even plastic cup holders. You can create plastic cobwebs or jack-o-lanterns, tree ornaments and even wreathes during Haloween. These are just a few of the things that you can make using a 3D printer.
What Kind of 3D printer Should I consider?
Stereolithography printers make use of a process called photo-solidification. This is when chemical reaction forms layers and photos when focused at a certain point which then solidifies the SLA resin. The SLA method is known to create very fine details that are exceptionally smooth.
Fused Deposition Modeling Printer creates objects with a heating filament that passes through a tube that exits into shapes along X, Y, and Z axes. These printers are known to produce products that have horizontal lines along the sides and need some additional work to smooth out the lines. Most hobbyists use a Cartesian FDM Printer, as it offers more control and yields better results.
Selective Laser Sintering printers use a laser to focus on a point in a vat of powder. As the laser moves, powder solidifies right after it. SLS is ideal for industrial 3D printing.
Digital Light Processing and SLA are similar in a way that they both utilize polymerization to create each layer of the object. When light hits a point in the resin, it then solidifies into place. The output of DLP is known to be smooth and a much better finish compared to FDM.
With this 3D printer buying guide, the buyer must understand that printing in 3D doesnât mean faster is better. This goes with printers that claim more than 150mm/s speed. Chances are, the faster the printing the lower the quality of the end product. You might want to take inventory of the objects that you plan to print/create. And, if you might be looking to print objects with more detail and intricate design, then you would have to opt for the slower speeds.
What about actual lead times for real-time printing? There is no exact measurement as to how many hours your printing will take. It can go as fast as 4 hours or as slow as 12 hours. It really depends on how detailed and complex the output product is. The higher the resolution the longer it takes to finish.
Printer Bed Size
Generally, you may say that you can go for a bigger size print bed just in case you might want to print larger objects. That in itself is fine. However, what is critical is whether the print bed is heated or not. You will need a stable foundation once the printer starts laying down the resin. The potential problem is if you donât have a heated bed the object might not sit steady. This could potentially result in a less than the accurate output of your design.
So, you can choose from either manually glueing the object to the bed by using an adhesive, or use a heated bed to ensure that the object stays in place. Moreover, if you are using ABS filament you will need a heated bed anyway. Added to that, a PLA filament can do either heated or just an adhesive.
Closed or Open Frame?
Somehow having a closed frame proved to be more advantageous as opposed to using and open frame. For one thing, you would need to keep in mind the safety of the user. That includes other members of the family. Seemingly, the only advantage that the open frame offers is that you get full access and full view whenever something is being printed. Other than that, there is that risk of accidentally knocking over the whole thing or ruining the object that is being printed. Or even worse, accidental burning.
Having a closed frame printer greatly reduces the risk of burning or falling over. Plastic odors that might waft throughout the whole room can be avoided. Also, closed frame printers are quieter in which it is always a plus for any equipment that takes more than a few hours to complete the job. Last but not least, ambient temperatures can be better controlled inside a closed frame printer.
Standard Resin can come in gray and white colors. It is also best for prototypes and small gadgets, but not strong enough for final products.
Tough Resin They are mostly used professionally and for some engineering apps. Tough resin can hold in case of high impact usage.
PLA Polylactic Acid is a plastic that is sourced from plants. It works for indoor use but degrades when exposed to the sun and water. Avoid using this material outdoors.
Medical grade resin-It is safe for medical use and even in dental applications.
PETG Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol is used for food-safe objects.
ABS Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene is very strong plastic. This type is suitable for outdoor objects like the garden or the lawn.
What Kind of Software Should I Use?
The more recent 3D printers of today almost always come with a software system that is either available for download or is on an operating disk. In the past, 3D printing software had several parts that came in separately. Back then, you would have to manually coordinate them for the whole thing to function properly. It was not an easy install. Fortunately today, it is now a seamless user-friendly installation procedure that makes it easy for the beginner or even the pro as the case may be.
3D printers are becoming more affordable now more than ever. With that in mind, as a buyer what you must do first is to know the features that you are looking for, because a high price may mean quality but not to your specifications. If and when you get to match specifications to your needs and preferences, then your good to go. Also, while browsing the internet you might want to read up on customer reviews and experiences too. Be sure to choose a 3D printer company that provides after-sales support and a good warranty period whenever available. Happy Shopping
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