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Posted on September 28, 2022

What To Look For In A 3D Printer: Beneficial Tips.

Now that you've heard about all the amazing things that can be created by 3D printers, you've decided to invest in one. Well, you’re not alone!

Professional, affordable desktop and benchtop 3D printers are now available for a variety of applications, including architecture, construction, medicine, education, media, fashion, and jewelry. 

It's no secret that the interest in 3D printing is growing rapidly, as is the variety of 3D printers available to the general public.

Yes, over 30 years have passed since the first 3D printer model was created. But this technology has only grown more useful and interesting by the day. The entire process of solid imaging was called stereolithography in the past, but 3D printing will do it here.

There is no other technical field that has developed so dramatically in the past few years as 3D printing. The use of 3D technology is becoming increasingly important, especially in industrial, technological, manufacturing, and academic fields.

It is not necessary to own a 3D printer to print in 3D, but more people than ever before invest in such machines. If you’re one of them, get ready for an exciting ride.

Be patient, though. Before you begin exploring the world of 3D printing, there are some things you need to know to buy the best machine.

3D Printers - Back to Basics

Firstly, let's briefly discuss the fundamentals and look at current printing technology in order to understand the features and limitations better. After all, there are still some people who do not understand what 3D printing is or how it works, even though 3D printing has been around for a long time. 

Simply put, additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, creates three-dimensional objects by layering computer-generated designs. This practice began in the 1980s, and its popularity has increased rapidly since then.

With 3D printers, you can create 3D objects from a variety of materials, such as molten plastic or powder. And even that is expected to change as the 3D printing technology continues to advance.

In addition to 3D printing's capabilities, its value is expected to grow as well. According to Fortune Business Insights, the 3D printing industry is expected to reach $84 billion by 2029.

A large part of the reason for the rapid growth of this technology is that it has made manufacturing accessible to a much broader audience. Note that 3D printer prices vary widely depending on what you want to print, the size of the printer, and the level of detail you require in your final model.

3D printing begins with CAD models that are sent to software for design preparation. In some cases, 3D printers construct parts in subsequent layers by solidifying resin or sintering powder. Post-production is then performed on the parts after they have been removed from the printer.

But different models have different features.

Types of 3D Printers

There are many types of 3D printers available on the market today. The way these devices operate and the materials they use are completely different from one another. So if you are considering purchasing a 3D printer, you must understand their differences.

Note that the majority of printing technologies we mention below are used in factories or other industrial settings. The nine major printing technologies are:

  • Stereolithography (SLA)
  • Digital Light Processing (DLP)
  • Fused deposition modeling (FDM)
  • Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
  • Selective laser melting (SLM)
  • Electronic Beam Melting (EBM)
  • Laminated object manufacturing (LOM)
  • Material Jetting (MJ)
  • Binder Jetting (BJ).

Three-dimensional printers that are entry-level typically come in two flavors: SLA and FDM. 

FDM 

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), sometimes called fused filament fabrication (FFF), is an additive process that involves heating and extruding plastic layers at a time to create a model.

More specifically, the “conventional” process of FDM differs from other material extrusion processes, particularly concrete and food additive manufacturing, since it makes use of thermoplastic filaments and pellets as feedstocks.

This is the most widely used technology in 3D printing and probably the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word 3D printing.

3D printers with FDM technology have many advantages. Firstly, there is a wide variety of materials available, including colorful filaments and high-quality plastics, all at a reasonable price. In the event that something goes wrong, they are easy to use but may require a lot of maintenance.

SLA

Stereolithography (SLA) machines use a chemical process called photo-solidification in order to build up the various layers of the final printed model. Liquid plastic is used at the beginning of the process. The 3D objects are then hardened when the material cools down to a solid state.

There are several industries that use SLA 3D printers, ranging from jewelry to odontology, all at affordable prices. This method, which is accomplished by the photopolymerization of UV-sensitive resins with a laser, led to the development of resin 3D models such as DLP, MSLA, VLM, etc.

Home users can also benefit from SLA 3D printers, even though they function differently. Final products from SLA printers are aesthetically pleasing and do not require much post-printing work, unlike those from FDM printers.

As you read, various 3D printers are available that offer different features and use different materials, so understanding your options will help you find the right one. Soon, we will go through some beneficial tips regarding the frequently asked question: What to look for in a 3D printer?

What to Look for In a 3D Printer - Tips

There are virtually no limits to what can be done with 3D printers. It doesn't matter if you're printing a toy, a case for your phone, a screwdriver, or a fixture; make sure the device you choose is right for you.

While 3D printing has been around for a while, it’s only recently become more accessible to the mainstream consumer market. That’s why many people still don’t know what qualities they should look for in a 3D printing machine.

Soon, we will get into the details of what you should look for in a 3D printer. For example, thinking about important factors like what you want to 3D print and how often you will do so is essential before you begin shopping. 

Businesses should also consider the size, efficiency, and cost of a professional 3D printer, as well as its quality and safety features.

Device Application

You should consider the complexity of your 3D models before you choose a machine to print them with. Certain 3D printers can make more complex models, which means you should decide the level of complexity you want.

Industrial-scale production parts are vastly different from gadgets you can use to create a 3D print on your desk. Decide how often you are going to print, how you plan to use the printed objects, as well as the amount of time you are willing to invest.

Keep in mind that the quality of a print depends on the printer's resolution and print speed. Leveling the bed of the 3D printer is the simplest way to enhance the quality of 3D printed models.

Resin MSLA Vs. Filament FDM

A resin MSLA and a filament FDM 3D printer are the two most popular types of desktop 3D printers. There are strengths and weaknesses to each style, so you should choose the type that is best suited to your application. 

Most people, especially first-timers, find filament 3D printers to be better suited to their needs because they offer more color options and are easier to use.

Compared to ABS 3D printers, resin 3D printers provide a bit more detail, which is why they are popular with people who print game pieces. When setting up a print, however, you must wear a mask to protect yourself from toxic chemicals. 

Device Size 

As important as your application, filament, bed leveling, and printer features are, it is also important to consider the amount of space you have. There are many different kinds of 3D printers, such as mini desktop 3D printers and giant industrial monsters.

In some cases, high-tech materials (such as ASA or ABS filaments) produce foul odors when they are printed. As a result, the printer should be located in a well-ventilated room but not in a drafty environment. 

You should also keep in mind that the cost and size of a 3D printer are highly variable. It is possible to get an extremely high-quality printer in a relatively small form factor that costs much less than its slightly larger siblings.

Consider The Price

The cost of a 3D printer, even a budget device, is usually hundreds of dollars. 

In spite of the steep price tag for even a budget 3D printer, purchasing one is well worth the money. In fact, the possibilities for creating household items with a 3D printer are virtually endless. 

In spite of this, there are plenty of excellent 3D printers available for under $500. We recommend starting with simple models that cost as little as $100 if you're starting out with 3D printing.

As you can see, there are plenty of options for setting up your 3D printer, but knowing what you want out of the box – along with your willingness to do the hard work and upgrade your machine later – will help you decide how much to spend.

Printer Features

You should closely examine the device’s features if you really plan to invest in 3D printing. The reason is simple: if you don't want to purchase an entry-level printer and upgrade it after a year or two, you should do your research.

The quality of the print, the machine’s safety features, adjustability, and filaments are just some factors to consider.

Quality 

There are many variables that contribute to the quality of a 3D-printed object. There are some that are associated with the printer's features, whereas others depend on the printing material.

A quality UI can elevate your 3D printing experience from impressive to incredible. It is recommended that you choose a system that produces high-quality parts consistently to save time and avoid the hassle of tinkering with your machine.

Ultimately, the best way to judge a printer's quality is to look at its finished product. To make sure a 3D printer will meet your needs, you can view photos of the finished product online.

Safety 

Operating hot electrical equipment can always be risky, so you are never too safe when handling it. That’s why we recommend choosing a device with high-quality heating components for the nozzle and print bed on FFF printers to prevent fires.

Moreover, your 3D printing experience will be enhanced by safety features, including automatic nozzle cooling at the end of the print process. After all, you should remember that whenever you work with plastics, you are dealing with heated materials. 

Note: Printers without enclosures around the print area should be handled with extra caution.

Filament Support

In FDM printers, objects are printed layer by layer using plastic filaments. ABS and PLA plastic is the most commonly printed materials on consumer printers. In comparison to PLA, which is made from corn starch, ABS is made from oil and is more toxic. 

If you don't have a fan or extraction system, choose PLA. ABS can also be used in many places. And don’t forget that there can be significant differences in the final printed product depending on the type of material used.

Note: Dual filament support is not necessary to get multicolored prints, but it certainly helps!

Axis Adjustability

Often, tweaking and adjusting your printer involves changing the tension on one of the three main axes. Make sure your 3D printer has ready access to belt tension adjustment. The time you would otherwise spend removing components and adjusting them will be saved.

Auto Calibration

There are machines that require users to calibrate the print bed  –  this involves placing paper on the print bed, then moving the print bed slowly towards the nozzle up to the point of contact. 10-15 minutes is about how long this usually takes.

There are many machines that offer automatic calibration, and many experts believe that those extra few hundred dollars are well worth it. We suggest that 3D printing beginners consider an auto-leveling bed as well.

There are already a lot of things to learn about 3D printing and the long list of things that can go wrong during the process, which makes any assistance valuable.

Make a Checklist

3D printers should be chosen based on knowledge first, then checked against a list of requirements. Having determined your budget, expectations, etc., it's then just a matter of checking your boxes one by one. Even if you cannot check them all, you should at least cover most of the items on your list.

There’s a reason you put them there, after all.

Why Do You Need A 3D Printer?

3D printers can create impressive objects from a wide range of materials, ranging from figurines to giant mechanical parts. In fact, processing print jobs could even be a source of income for you. Furthermore, it's just plain fun.

It's always possible to check out a fab lab or maker space in your area before investing in the technology. This way, you get to explore all the fun and challenging parts of the process together.

You can quickly find out if 3D printing is right for you by talking to others who have used it and even taking your first steps toward using it. As you may already know, these spaces usually offer free machines for members to use.

Conclusion.

Until recently, 3D printers were reserved for industrial use, with a price tag of tens of thousands of dollars. In today's world, consumer printers seem to be everywhere, and more are being introduced every day. 

There are many ways in which printers can benefit you, and better yet, they have become surprisingly affordable during the past decade. Using a 3D printer allows you to easily replace small components for household appliances and gadgets otherwise unavailable to you.

Make sure you know what you want to print before you buy a printer, and then you'll know what to expect. For those planning to use the printer for fun, cheap filament-based printers may be the best option. 

And if your business needs a 3D printer to repair machines or create objects that are used every day, you may need a more costly resin or powder printer. Don’t hesitate to contact Build Tak professionals in case you have any questions left unanswered.