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Best 3D Printers for Mechanical Parts – Buyer’s Guide

Mechanical parts are difficult to print because of the accuracy they demand. Precision, mechanical strength, flexibility and a lot of other properties become accountable when printing a mechanical part.

Using traditional methods, not only the job is lengthy and time-consuming, but it isn’t too precise. Resulting in many failures of parts. However, with the release of 3D printers for mechanical parts, the job has become much easier.

These 3D printers are designed especially for ensuring that the mechanical parts could be assembled perfectly together and possess desired mechanical properties.

There have been huge discoveries in terms of the materials used for developing mechanical parts as well. One can find a number of different materials for printing mechanical parts.

The technology has become an indispensable part of this niche and continues to grow even deeper. This is all because of the many advantages 3D printing provides when it comes to manufacturing the mechanical parts with no or least error.

Because of the complexity of designs, these 3D printers for mechanical parts are capable of realizing, there seems to be no other option at all. There are several designs that are not possible to build without the involvement of 3D printers.

While the technology was used for preparing functional and visual prototypes in the past, it has evolved and is now being used for the manufacturing of mechanical parts as well. Hence, one cannot ignore the importance of these machines when talking about manufacturing mechanical parts.

The different 3D printing processes can be used for creating mechanical parts. Starting from FDM to SLM, ALM, SLA and what not. These processes provide different properties to the parts and could benefit the different industries through high-end solutions.

Manufacturing of mechanical parts can even be done on large scale through industrial 3D printers. Mechanical 3D prints are carried out with great care and the focus on design holds equal importance as choosing the best 3D printer for mechanical parts.

What Are the Benefits of Using a 3D Printer for Mechanical Parts?

It is very important to understand why 3D printers are so important for carrying out the manufacturing of mechanical parts. How this technology provides an edge to the niche?

These questions would help understand why one should look for a 3D printer instead of carrying out the manufacturing through traditional methods.

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Eases the Entire Manufacturing Lifecycle

3D printing graph

3D printing mechanical parts have always been considered very crucial as the parts are being used across almost every sector. The need for these mechanical parts is huge.

Hence, their designs, accuracy, and mechanical properties varies as per the applications. To achieve such diverse properties of mechanical parts through traditional methods is always challenging. At the same time, it is time-consuming.

However, when printing with 3D printers, these problems seem small. One can design parts using variety of materials possessing different properties. Also, the different 3D printing processes could be utilized for diverse results.

Moreover, the entire process can be completed much earlier when done through 3D printing. All these benefits ensure that the ease of manufacturing operation is a priority for users.

Industries are utilizing the technology for making their tasks easier and simpler. 3D printing technology has provided an ecosystem that does not fear to experiment.

Because of its limitless possibilities, the technology is been worshiped by many users. However, the cost and other parameters do restrict the accessibility of these machines to every business. With time, this also seems to vanish though.

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Achieve the Best Topology Optimization

3d printing topology optimization

With traditional manufacturing, the balance between strength, weight and production cost isn’t that easy to assess. The mechanical parts designing requires intense thinking and through old methods, these problems give way to larger ones.

For example, compromising strength would cost you the entire project, however, what if, you do not have the budget or proper tools for such kind of manufacturing?

The freedom is restricted when methods other than 3D printing. This is not the case when using additive manufacturing technology.

Users have the freedom to optimize the parts design based on their strength, weight and production cost. By achieving the right balance, one can derive the best topology optimization for mechanical parts.

This is one of the major reasons why 3D printing in mechanical engineering has established itself as the core technology. By cutting the cost of manufacturing, one can concentrate on the quality of the mechanical parts, hence, gaining trust of the customers.

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Serve Greater Number of Applications with Best Results

3d printing lightweight printed item

This has to be a reason for the popularity that 3D printing has gained in last few years. Automotive and aerospace industries have become highly dependent on 3D printing for producing best optimized mechanical parts.

For example, to achieve lightweight parts with high strength and density is not possible with any other methods.

However, 3D printing can provide amazing results. Moreover, mechanical parts with high-temperature resistance make a huge difference in the efficiency of automotive and aerospace industries.

All of these properties are achievable through 3D printing methods.

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Improves Mechanical Properties of Parts

Through traditional manufacturing, many complex designs are impossible to cast. Hence, users depend on assemblies by dividing the parts into smaller and simple units and finally sticking them together.

This can be done through welding and many other traditional processes. Because of assembling of units to prepare a part, the inclusion of impurities and weak joints hinders the mechanical properties of these parts.

However, with 3D printing one can reduce the requirement of assemblies. Hence, improving the mechanical properties of these parts exponentially.

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Reducing Efforts of Manufacturing

Manufacturing mechanical parts involves a lot of pre and post-processing steps along with the actual manufacturing efforts that users invest using traditional methods.

However, 3D printing ensures that most of the manufacturing steps are automated and involves minimum human intervention. 3D printer for mechanical parts excels at accomplishing the job at much faster rate by reducing the amount of manual assistance.

Even the pre and post-manufacturing steps are minimized to a measurable difference. These benefits make 3D printing an unbeatable option when manufacturing mechanical parts.

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Manage the Supply Chain Efficiently Than Ever Before

Building mechanical parts and managing the supply chain efficiently are two different aspects of every manufacturing business. However, these are strongly related. The difference in demand and availability causes huge issues for every manufacturer.

However, with 3D printing, one can improve the entire supply chain management. Because the manufacturing of parts can be done fast and easily, one can decide to print on demand, instead of managing stocks.

This will highly reduce the cost of storage and other issues related to supply chain management. Moreover, one can utilize the efforts in working to scale the production process.

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Which Mechanical Projects Utilize 3D Printing Most?

For whom the businesses are manufacturing mechanical parts? By knowing which industries are demanding 3D printing more than others, one could take the right decision of including the technology for their tasks.

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Aerospace

Aerospace - 3D printing

There are several reasons why aerospace industry is highly dependent on 3D printing. Most of them have already been explained above. The benefits of 3D printing aren’t hidden anymore. Users now can analyze the difference this technology has brought with itself.

By optimizing the designs and shortening the QA timeline, 3D printing has blessed the aerospace industry manifold. For example, the fuel nozzle used in GE aviation was made by with different units in the past. However, now it can be printed in one part with the help of 3D printer for mechanical parts.

These fuel nozzles are not only five times stronger than the ones created with assembling units together, it also lasts longer. This does not end here.

The entire process of isolating the problem, making changes and updates and installing the new version can be carried faster, reducing the time consumed for quality assurance. All thanks to 3D printing which has made the production and changes in prototypes faster and easier.

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Automobile Industry

Automobile Industry 3D printing

This is one vast industry that is utilizing additive manufacturing the most. From printing important car parts to experimenting with new designs, everything has become so usual with the help of 3D printer for mechanical parts.

The technology excels at providing the best accuracy and precision for different parts. At the same time, provide freedom to choose from diverse range of robust materials including metal materials as well.

The nuances of possibilities have made 3D printing very popular among automotive industry and businesses that seek to grow faster. Ford and many huge companies have already started utilizing 3D printers for various manufacturing tasks.

The technology is no more limited to printing prototypes, but can be used for large scale production of mechanical parts for cars and other applications.

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List of Best 3D Printer for Mechanical Parts

Now, that we have talked a lot about what 3D printers can accomplish when it comes to manufacturing mechanical parts, it is time to look at few of the best 3D printers available for the task.

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Markforged Mark Two

Markforged Mark Two

Markforged Mark Two is a popular 3D printer which has gained a lot of awesome reviews from its users. This is a unique 3D printer and is capable of manufacturing composite parts.

One must note that the strength to weight ratio similar to metals can be achieved with this 3D printer. This is done by reinforcing the parts with continuous carbon, fiberglass fibers and other options.

Because of its amazing qualities, the printer is used within manufacturing operations. If you are looking for producing functional parts that demand strength, this is the printer you must own. It is extensively used for the production of jigs and fixtures.

It is an expensive 3D printer and starts from $13,500. But you would find it justifying its cost right after looking at the device. It features astonishing build quality and great precision for manufacturing complex parts. To make it suit the industrial setup, the printer is designed using heavy-duty piece of hardware.

You can count on the features such as dual-extruder for providing desired strength. This setup facilitates the use of different filaments for printing. To work with the machine, the company offers Markforged Eiger software.

Being a user-friendly software and allowing the users to utilize the benefits of cloud-based solution, Eiger has been able to successfully impress users. The software also assists users while determining the best orientation of the continuous fibers. Further ensuring the best quality of printed parts.

You get a build volume of 320 × 132 × 154 mm along with the layer height of 100 – 200 μm. It is compatible with variety of materials such as Nylon, Continuous carbon-fiber-reinforced nylon, Carbon-filled nylon and many others.

For connection, you can utilize WiFi, Ethernet or USB port. Hence, you have the freedom to choose the way you want to proceed with the working of the machine.

PROS:
  • Enables the manufacturing of strong carbon-reinforced mechanical parts
  • Large build space
  • Sturdy design
  • Unique technology for better results

CONS:
  • Compatible with expensive materials
  • Expensive

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Ultimaker S5

Ultimaker S5 3d printer

If you are looking for a 3D printer that isn’t expensive as an industrial 3D printer, however, providing similar results, then you are at the right place. Ultimaker S5 is a great choice for professionals who are not involved in large scale manufacturing.

The Ultimaker S5 is an FDM 3D printer, compact and easily manageable. This 3D printer is been designed specifically for complex designs.

If you are involved in building functional parts and seek highest efficiency, this one is the best choice for you. With intuitive functionality and reliable operation, Ultimaker S5 is a pure genius.

The 3D printer can be placed either at home as well as on the office desk. This is a plug and plays machine with not much hassle of installation. On top of that, it offers a large build volume of 330 x 240 x 300 mm.

You can use this machine for batch production constituting of smaller parts. It comes with a dual extruder and supports soluble supports. Hence, one can achieve smoother surface finish when printing mechanical parts with this machine.

One can also count on the variety of materials the printer is compatible with. Either you are looking to build a prototype or want to build functional parts, you can choose from the different materials that suit your design.

You can also use third party filaments as the printer is compatible with materials offered by other vendors. However, you may have to compromise with the print quality.

The printer features an intuitive touch screen interface. You can either use this touch screen to control the printer or connect it to your laptop or phone. The company offers Cura software which is from an open-source community.

Cura is a nice application for beginners as well as experts. Using the basic as well as advanced tools provided by the software, one can realize almost every design.

PROS:
  • Easy to install and setup
  • Unmatched print quality and accuracy
  • Great surface finish
  • Large build volume
  • Support for third party and multiple materials

CONS:
  • Expensive
  • Comparable print time is slow
  • Non-satisfactory results with third-party filaments

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EOS Formiga P110

EOS Formiga P110 3d printer

EOS is a German manufacturer providing high-end 3D printers for industrial applications. Formiga P 110 runs on the SLS 3D printing process and is also an industrial, yet compact 3D printer for mechanical parts.

The machine features a 30 W, CO2 laser in order to fuse the powdered material together. Hence, helping adhesion of layers of the parts. This machine provides competitive prices to businesses as compared to the other SLS machines.

In return, the machine compromises on the build volume. Hence, if you require a machine for large scale production, this may not suit your needs. Instead, if you are looking for cost-effective printing for low volume production and high precision, nothing can benefit you more than this device.

You can easily produce parts with complex geometries and use nylon (PA 12) for achieving the results with highest accuracy. Because the machine can balance the settings between part’s high strength and high productivity, one can use the printer for manufacturing mechanical parts for huge number of applications.

The company also offers specialty materials that exhibit varying physical properties. For example, you can achieve parts that are high-temperature resistance with amazing tensile strength and even flexibility. The best part is that the powder offered by the company can be recycled for next use to a certain extent.

You may have to face a few problems as well that come along with SLS parts. These aren’t watertight. Hence, would require post-processing steps to compensate for their internal porosity. The same characteristic makes these parts compatible with dyeing. This further enhances the strength of the parts.

The printer offers a build volume of 200 × 250 × 330 mm and ranges for around $175,000.

To work with the designs, the machine offers EOSPRINT 2 software. You can also monitor the print progress with the help of the application provided by EOS. This printer is also compatible with third-party software.

PROS:
  • Can help achieve amazing print quality along with high strength
  • Offers a wide selection of materials
  • Support for third party and multiple materials

CONS:
  • Post-processing is required

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Lulzbot TAZ 6

Lulzbot TAZ 6 3d printer

Enough of highly expensive 3D printers. Here is an affordable choice for professionals for achieving high-end results by paying $2500.

The printer features a large build volume of 280 x 280 x 250 mm, heated PEI print bed, automatic bed leveling, All-metal LulzBot v2 Hot End and much more. The printer can print at a maximum speed of 200mm/sec. It can help achieve the layer thickness between 0.050mm to 0.50mm.

Compatibility of the machine with various filaments such as PLA, HIPS, ABS, PVA, Polycarbonate, Nylon, PETG, conductive, PCTPE, PC-ABS, UV luminescent filaments, specialty filaments and others, make it a great choice when printing mechanical parts for multiple applications.

The printer, however, does not provide connectivity with WIFI. One can use the USB port or SD card to process the 3D files to the printer. The machine can be connected with Microsoft Windows, Mac, as well as Linux operating systems.

One of the turnoffs is a difficult machine setup. It can take more than an hour of hard work to put the parts together for installing the machine for the first time, if at all, you are a beginner. Those with experience handling 3D printers may be able to complete the setup within 30 minutes.

However, the print quality offered by the printer is what makes it best fit for many complex designs. With easy to use features, Lulzbot TAZ 6 has been able to attract a lot of beginners as well as experts.

PROS:
  • It offers large build volume yet sleek body
  • The printer provides reliable parts
  • The printer features a sturdy outlook and strong appearance
  • Automatic calibration
  • Self-cleaning nozzle
  • Heated print bed

CONS:
  • Isn’t very quiet and can disturb a little being a bit noisy
  • Takes time for the first-time setup

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The Conclusion

If you are targeting a 3D printer for scaling your production, you have taken the right decision. However, there are a lot of things that you must consider before jumping into the change.

From understanding and learning about the technology to selecting the one that is best for your manufacturing needs, everything must be visited precisely. Either its 3D laser printer or some other variant, choosing the right one isn’t an easy job.

3D printer filament and many other material choices are available for users. One must take time before deciding what to buy. The 3D printer for mechanical parts is equipped with amazing features.

You just need to focus on what you require to accomplish the job with excellence. It is not important to own the most expensive printer. Sometimes, a low budget printer can also help solve your problem.

So, find the one that meets the need of your production process and let the technology take your business to the next level.

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