If you are all excited to buy your first-ever 3D printer and not sure which one to opt, you may end up buying something you won’t feel beneficial later.
With so many considerations, it becomes daunting to choose the one that meets your needs. However, buying a 3D printer isn’t that difficult.
There is so much information available online that you can learn about the benefits and limitations of each type of printer.
You can also join online communities to make yourself equipped with various suggestions. However, you must think of yourself when taking the final decision. As it is you who knows well about your goals and what you would need a 3D printer for.
To be precise about what you need, learn about technology before planning to get one home. Once its bought, and you have spent hefty of amount, you won’t like sitting it at the corner, idle.
So, whenever you decide to buy a 3D printer, take up a few courses online, if you are a complete beginner.
This will also help you choose the 3D printer that better suits your needs as well. Moreover, you will be able to start printing right away after you buy your printer.
For each 3D printing process, there are many 3D printer capabilities. For example, there are plenty of FDM based 3D printers available in the market.
So, once you have found out the 3D printing process for your goals, you must have to go through further screening steps to find that one 3D printer. But as mentioned before, you can access a lot of help available out there.
Hence, let us check 10 things that will help you make the final decision about which 3D printer to buy.
What Type of 3D Printer You Should Buy?
There are more than 10 3D printing processes out there. Choosing among them is a difficult part. However, most of them are meant for high-end applications.
There are two common processes that are often used by hobbyists, individuals and small businesses which makes the list shorter for you.
One of the technologies is the FDM 3D printing technology and another one is the SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) technology.
FDM is cheaper and SLS falls on a bit higher side. The print quality also differs a lot. Parts printed by FDM may need to smoothen for better surface finish later. However, parts produced by SLS are of higher quality than FDM.
The parts built by SLS are also isotropic which is not possible with FDM. FDM uses filament spool whereas SLS uses powdered material.
In FDM, the printer is available starting from $200. However, an SLS printer won’t be available for anything less than a few thousand dollars. That is a huge difference and so is the print quality of the parts produced by both these processes.
One must learn about these processes to better understand which one to choose. If the requirement is for high precision models with finer complex designs, SLS would be a better choice. Otherwise, FDM is best for many commercial usages.
Building a 3D Printer or Buying a 3D Printer?
Although buying a 3D printer is an easy option, you may not be able to save extra bucks. Building a 3D printer can be hectic and time-consuming, but it can teach you a lot of things.
On top of that, you save a lot of money when building a 3D printer on your own. There are 3D printer kits available. You will find instruction manuals with these kits. These instructions would help you build your own 3D printer.
There are many online videos available to check and follow for building 3D printers on your own. But the decision is yours. If you do not have time and energy to spend on building a 3D printer, you can always choose to opt for buying a 3D Printer.
You would be able to print right after taking out the printer from the box with few adjustments when buying a 3D printer.
Does 3D Printer Speed Matters?
You may think that this is the most important parameter is choosing which 3D printer to buy. The higher the speed, the better is the 3D printer. However, you may not have the budget to get the fastest 3D printer.
It will depend on what you expect from the part you want to print. Moreover, the highest speed comes with other limitations. The print quality will be lower for higher speed. So, you must decide what you prefer.
A 3D printer is able to get you the finer details or the option that prints faster for higher turnaround time.
Also, 3D printing is all about patience. You must own that quality to 3D print. It may take hours and weeks to 3D print parts.
The larger the piece, the greater the time it would take to 3D print the item. The complexity of the parts also matters when printing speed is to be assessed.
Hence, you must not stress on printing speed when buying a 3D printer.
What is the Material You Want to Print From?
A lot depends on which material you wish to 3D print. Not every printer supports every material. Few works with only PLA and others may support a wider range of materials.
Moreover, you may need to decide if your printing re-equipments include multiple color printing or not. Not every 3D Printer supports multiple color printing.
There are certain advantages and disadvantages of each material. For example, PLA is biodegradable and eco-friendly. It also cools quickly and avoids problems like warping. However, it may be challenging to work with PLA when printing interlocking parts.
Similarly, ABS is good for interlocking parts and works at high heat and less prone to deform at high temperatures. But it takes longer for cooling and is susceptible to warping.
These things would lead you to choose the right 3D printer.
How Safe is Your 3D Printer?
Do you know that 3D printers must be used taking some precautions? Some 3D printers need to be used with more precaution and others may not need that much attention.
3D printers work with heat. From nozzle to build platform, there is a lot of heat generated in a 3D printer. Touching the heated parts may result in bad burns.
So, you can choose a 3D printer that comes with enclosed parts. Especially when you are working in your home around kids. Or, if you are a beginner. It is not necessary to get an enclosed 3D printer when working in an office or when to have some experience working with 3D printers.
Moreover, 3D printers that use ABS as the material leave fumes that could be hazardous. These printers must be kept in the well-ventilated rooms.
There are 3D printers that have inbuilt technologies to prevent most of the fumes generated. Depending on the need, you can choose among these models.
Does Print Bed Options Matter?
The print bed is heated and non-heated. Choosing among these two options depending on what material you need to print with.
While ABS must be printed with a heated bed, PLA can be used with a non-heated bed as well as adhesives.
It is important to keep the first layer still while printing for maintaining the quality of the print. Glue or pre-heating bed helps in making that possible. So, choose wisely and decide which print bed would be the best fit for your job.
Think About Your Goals
This must be the first thing you should do when planning to buy a 3D printer. The goals better specify your 3D printing needs.
For example, you may not prefer to buy an expensive sports car with two seats when planning to expand your family.
Even when cheap, you must go for the model with more seats and other safety features when traveling with kids.
A similar way of thinking about your goals will predict what you need with a 3D printer. Staying in a house and working alone? If that is so, you must seek the one that can fit in your house and is safe inside.
The size will also matter a lot and the maintenance cost. When planning for a printer for business use, you may check for a bigger size.
There are so many other things that matter. You just need to know what you want from your 3D printer and half of the problem will be solved.
Look into 3D Print Resolution
Print resolution along with the print speed decides the quality of the 3D prints built from a 3D printer. While you know what print speed is, print resolution defines the level of finer details a 3D printer is able to achieve.
The print resolution is measured in microns. You must opt for lower microns for achieving higher resolution. And, vice versa if your job can be satisfied by lower resolution as well.
The best way to check the printer quality is to look at what it can print and how it can print. Many companies also share prints examples if you need them. This will help you gauge what you can expect from your 3D printer.
Want 3D Printer with Inbuilt Slicing Software?
Slicing software is needed to divide the STL or OBJ file into horizontal layers. It is the last step before feeding the digital image to the 3D printer.
However, most of the 3D printers come with this inbuilt functionality of slicing the STL file directly after being fed to the 3D printer. You may choose the one that does it directly. Or, you can do it yourself.
The ones that require you to do it yourself will help you decide how you want to slice the digital file.
Customer Feedback Matters
Even when choosing a pair of shoes online, we prefer looking at the reviews first. So, why not when buying a 3D printer. After all, you are investing a hefty amount of money over it.
It is better to know what other users are talking about the 3D printer model. You may also look if the online communities that are dedicated to the specific 3D printer model are available or not.
You may come across certain issues and these communities could be the fastest way to find a resolution. So, research before you decide to buy a 3D printer. Look at all the perspectives and make the final decision.
Company’s Online Support
There you go. When everything is decided, this is the most crucial and last step that should never be ignored. You can even compromise on certain aspects, but not this. A 3D printer is a machine and things can go wrong at any time.
Moreover, when setting your 3D Printer, you may need some online support if the difficulty isn’t solved with instruction manuals.
To cate to all this, online support must be available. There are companies that offer chat, email, and phone support for all day and every hour long.
However, some companies do not pay much attention to the problems that customers face.
You must also check the warranty that the company is providing. Some may restrict the use of the company’s material only and others would allow the usage for third party material as well. So, check whatever you feel could turn out a win-win situation for you.
Deciding to buy a 3D printer will depend on a lot of other things from the ones listed above. However, these are the major parameters that must not be overlooked.
A 3D printer has many applications. You must know what application you require to tap into. Or, if you need a 3D printer for accomplishing your hobby.
Think of everything before finalizing the 3D printer to pay for. Buying a 3D printer can be made easy by following the right strategies.
Do not jump into spending your money out of excitement without thinking over it. The more you research, the best affordable 3D printer you can buy for your specific needs.