Indulging into the additive manufacturing arena isn’t about picking the most popular 3D printer and getting started right away.
However, it is a much thought out process of getting to know the technology closely and finding out what suits your needs the best.
You must purchase a 3D printer based on its abilities and your printing goals. Factoring each of those pre-requisites would help you decide for the best.
You must have heard that 3D printers can create almost endless possibilities. From a figurine to a doorstop, to a highly complicated item, you can accomplish a lot of projects through these machines.
However, not every 3D printer is good for all the needs. By picking the right one for the right purpose would save you from a lot of problems later.
The 3D printers are available with an array of differentiating capabilities and features. And, they also range from a few couples of hundred bucks to several thousand dollars.
Moreover, you can find various 3D printing processes and technologies ranging from a simple desktop FDM 3D printer to a huge industrial DLP (Digital Light Processing) 3D printer.
In between, you have Stereolithography, SLS, and many others. Not just that, the new inventions around the additive manufacturing niche is bringing more colors to the already existing choices.
With so many manufacturers and 3D printer options, it does sound a little too overwhelming. But, do not worry. We have got some deciding factors that would help you choose the 3D printer that you need.
Do You Need to Purchase a 3D Printer?
Isn’t that the first question that you must be asking yourself. A lot of users find 3D printing exciting and spends on a machine that just sits around without much to do.
While it not only is a waste of money but completely unjustified. Letting a 3D printer rust without any work is the last thing you would like to see. So, before you plan to purchase a 3D printer, you must find out if you need it in the first place.
It may sound like a simple question, but it isn’t. If you want to 3D print a model and you already have the design for the same, you may be thinking that this is the right time to invest in the machine.
But wait! You got to check if you have more work in the pipeline. If there are just one or two requirements, is it profitable to spend so much on a 3D printer?
Moreover, have to test that the 3D printer you wish to buy could print all the next models you have in the queue. If not, what good the 3D printer would do to you.
The first thing to understand is that buying a 3D printer is not the solution every time. If you think you can get the job done with 3D printing services, why not opt for that.
For a few 3D prints, you can better find the solution within these 3D printing hubs. Also, if your requirements vary, you do not need a 3D printer, but a 3D printing service.
For example, you want to 3D print a lamp using an FDM 3D printer this day and a figurine using a resin-based 3D printer the other day. Why spend on two different 3D printers when you can get both done using 3D printing service?
What to Consider Before you Purchase 3D Printer?
If you think, you have got a lot of similar requirements, it is time to find out which 3D printer would suit your purpose. Here are a few quick tips to help you through the decision-making process.
What is Your Printing Goal?
As you have got a glimpse of the same before, you must find out what you wish to 3D print first.
Food Containers or Household Items
Most of these items are usually for the inside of the house. Hence, these do not go through light or moisture exposure.
That is why using an FDM 3D printer could help accomplish your projects. You can 3D printing using PLA, ABS, or even PETG among the various filament choices.
If you are 3D printing food containers or anything that comes in contact with food, you must use food-safe filaments. For example, you can print with PETG when coated with food-safe epoxy.
Tools can be 3D printed using FDM as well as a resin 3D printer. However, the application of your tools would better decide the choice you must go with.
ABS prints created with sufficient infill percentage and proper infill pattern using an FDM printer can provide substantial results.
However, this does not mean it could go well within a professional setting. If that is where you need your tools to work, you must opt for a resin 3D printer.
Items Used Outside of the House or Office
If you want your models to withstand high temperatures and other forces of nature, you must use the filament accordingly. FDM printers could help you do the job better.
Either it’s a plant pot or a patio table, ABS would help you stay safe with its favorable mechanical properties. It won’t deform or break in the sun easily while PLA or PETG won’t stand any longer.
If your 3D printing goal includes items containing highly detailed parts, such as artwork, you must go with the resin 3D printer.
Although the FDM 3D printer provides considerate results, you can only justify the fine details with the resin printers. These are specifically constructed to achieve high precision. These are best when it comes to 3D printing intricate details.
In professional applications such as medicine, aerospace, dentistry, and many others, the most commonly used technology is the resin-based 3D printing.
Hence, if you are from similar niches, you must weigh your options well. Resin 3D printers provide high accuracy and precision. Hence, these are highly preferred over other options.
Find Out the Features You Need
Every user can have a different set of requirements pertaining to the 3D printer feature. You must find out what you need.
Does Safety Matters to You:
The 3D printer is all about hot temperature parts and extrusion from overly heated nozzles. And, it is never safe when you are so close working with your 3D printer.
Especially for starters, who can easily hurt themselves when working with hot electrical equipment. The problem becomes even more critical when you have kids around.
If you think safety features are a must, you can look for the 3D printer that provides you with the proper functionality to offer safety.
You can look for features such as automatic nozzle cooling after 3D print completion. You can look for closed frames to avoid any accidents with toddlers. Plus, you can also find out a machine that shuts off after the print is done.
Print Save and Resume:
Do you work at home where power outage is a common problem? If that is so, working with a 3D model will be quite frustrating. If the power cuts off in the middle of a beautiful print, you will lose your model.
However, when the 3D printer has the print resume feature, it will save the print and start from where it was stopped during the power failure.
High-Quality Touchscreen Control:
Gone are the days when users were fine working with rotary knobs to navigate through the menus.
Today, every maker looks for a great user interface to eliminate the unnecessary battle of managing the settings with not so friendly rotatory knobs.
The good news is that the functionality is also available with budget printers. It has gotten into the mainstream, isn’t it?
Heated Print Bed:
If you are working with filament other than PLA, you will require a heated print bed. ABS and many other complex filaments need a heated surface for better adhesion.
Or, the prints can start warping. The first layer is the foundation for the entire print and you cannot let it loose from the bottom.
That is why the heated bed is very necessary if you want to go beyond PLA and try other exquisite materials too.
If you have worked with a 3D printer with manual calibration, you would know how time taking and difficult the process is.
For beginners, this may seem like the most troubling setting. In case, you do not want to go through all that hassle, you can choose to purchase a 3D printer with auto-calibration.
There are 3D printers that only offer support for single filament. Or maybe, one or two other choices. However, if you want to print with a wide range of filament, you must make the choice accordingly.
Even if you do not need to print with more than one material currently, you may purchase a 3D printer with multi-material support to stay covered in the future with changing 3D printing goals.
One more feature that is highly in demand, even when not needed. So, you must decide what fits your goals before spending a few more extra bucks on this one.
The dual extruder is helpful when you need to print in multiple colors and it also can help in 3D printing faster.
Do you Bet Only for High Print Speed? Think Again
Speed cannot be the only factor for deciding if the 3D printer is worth paying for. You must also find out the resolution it offers. You may like to pay for the best 3D printer offering the highest speed, but at what cost.
That is also important to consider. The high speed is inversely proportional to the print resolution. You must compromise on your print finish to get the model printed at the earliest.
Do not forget, print speed matters but in conjugation with the print quality. Also, print speed not only depends on the size of the model but also upon the complexity of the part, the 3D resolution is chosen, and a lot of other factors.
It would also depend on the layer height and whatnot. So, basing your decision on print speed would not lead you to the right 3D printer.
Print speed does matter, but with its own limits. There is no answer that could help you sort out the print speed of a machine unless you consider all the above parameters.
So, move on and purchase a 3D printer that gets your job done with better results rather than saving just a few couples of hours.
3D Printer Budget
Every requirement squares up with the budget you can spare for your 3D printer. You may want to buy the most adored machine. But do you have the budget for the same?
Even if you have, it is really necessary to spend that much when your job can be completed with much less expensive than you wish to make.
You must figure out the ultimate goal of yours. What do you want to 3D print and what quality do you yearn for? List the important features without which your goals aren’t complete.
If the budget is low, you can certainly cut down on a few requirements such as a dual extruder. If multi-color prints aren’t the most important factor, you can let it go.
Similarly, you can find out what you need and what features you can compromise with. This would help you reach the maximum budget you want to spend on your 3D printer.
Where can I purchase a 3D Printer? If that is what you are wondering for, you are focusing in the wrong direction.
First, you need to find out which 3D printer to get. Exploring this would help you get the answer to the question you seek.
Makers always ensure to get the right machine. From the size of the 3D printer to the print results it produces, everything matters.
Simply checking a few variants and buying the one that comes first to the mind wouldn’t make you happy. You do need to be really lucky if you want to find a 3D printer without making efforts.
In short, you must work hard to find out your goals and weight those with the features of the 3D printer you wish to buy. This would help you purchase a 3D printer that would make your dreams a reality.