3D printers have revolutionised many industries such as engineering, medicine, military etc. They help make complicated designs using any raw material as per specifications. The 3D printing process involves creating the design using computer software (CAD) and later using a 3D printers to print a 3D model of the same.
The Quick Guide to Buying a 3D Printer
Seems easy and enticing enough for anyone to buy a 3D printer! However, before making a purchase there are certain things to keep in mind. Here’s a list of points to check before buying a best 3D printer.
1] Do you need a 3D printer?
The first and foremost question is do you actually need a 3D printer? If you wish to buy one just because you have a one-time requirement, then it is a sheer waste of money. You can get your work done using a 3D printer elsewhere. 3D printers are expensive so think hard before buying one.
2] Which type of 3D printer do you need?
There are different types of 3D printer available in the market. FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling), SLA (Stereo lithography) and SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) are some of the most popular types available currently in the market.
In FDM 3D printer, the object is printed layer by layer; SLA 3D printer uses UV light to harden the model resulting in higher quality print; SLS uses lasers and powders to form a layer of printed material.
FDM printers are the most popular 3D printer available in the market. This can be attributed to relatively lower cost, compared to SLA and SLS types of 3D printer. For industrial projects, generally SLA and SLS printers are preferred while the choice for home 3D printer is the FDM type.
3] Cost of 3D printer
3D printers available in the market are of 2 types. You could opt for a DIY type which you can assemble yourself or buy an already assembled one.
The more advanced a 3D printer the higher will be its cost. Thus depending on your requirement (for home or for industry) and your budget, you can make an informed choice on buying 3D printer.
The cost of 3D printer ranges from around USD $300 for an assembled one to USD $2000 above for a high-end model.
4] 3D Printing requirements
It is essential to know what you desire from a 3D printer. There are many different types of 3D printer available in the market that has different specifications. Some of the features apart from the type of 3D printer and its cost are:
- Size of printer – big or small 3D printer is available depending on your requirement.
- Print resolution – the smaller the resolution (in ) the more finely printed your object is.
- Print speed – varying speed are available in 3D printer, from 40-50mm/s to 150mm/s. the speed can be adjusted according to the article to be printed. For big, detailed objects, slow speed is preferred.
- Filament – most 3D printer work with 2 types of filaments, PLA (Poly Lactic Acid) and ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene). Check the compatibility of your 3D printer with thetype and size of filament before making the purchase.
- Print bed – it holds the object steady from the beginning, available in 2 options, heated and non-heated. Working with ABS filament requires a heated bed while PLA can work with either.
- Open or closed frame – a 3D printer with open frame allows for easy visibility of product and access to it during the process. However, a closed frame 3D printer is safer (reduced chance of burning from heated elements), has reduced smell of heated raw material and maintains temperature.
5] Where to purchase a 3D printer?
3D printers are easily available online. One can be purchased second hand too but the usage and wear-and-tear of the machinery cannot be accessed.It is preferable to shortlist various options that fulfil your requirement, read online about them and then purchase from a dealer.
This way you can actually access the product and in case of any malfunction, you can get it rectified.
Some of the most popular 3D printer currently available in the market are MakerBot Replicator+, Ultimaker 2+, XYZprinting da Vinci Mini, Lulzbot Mini etc. Choose one that meets your requirements.