Are you just getting started with 3D printing? 3D printing technology has become more widely available in the past decade. You can now find a wide array of desktop 3D printers that are ideal for use in labs, schools, businesses and even in the home. Many individuals are investing in 3D printers not just for business but also as hobbyists.
If you’re just getting started with 3D printing, you will be bombarded with a wide range of choices when it comes to 3D printers. There are various 3D printing brands and models available on the market. You may even feel overwhelmed when trying to make your decision. If this is you, read on to find tips on how to select the best home 3D printer for your applications.
What are Your Printing Needs?
Before you even begin to search for a 3D printer, it is important to determine exactly why you’re investing in a 3D printer. Are you purchasing a 3D printer to start a home business? Are you purchasing a 3D printer to explore your creativity? What will you print? Will you be printing decorative pieces? Are you investing in a printer for educational purposes?
Your printing needs will guide your choice. You can determine exactly what you want out of the printer and look for a 3D printer that meets these requirements. For example, if you’re looking for a 3D printer for a home based business that involves making figurines, you will want a 3D printer that offers high resolution. You may also want a speedy printer that offers high quality prints to meet high volume orders.
Learn About Different Printing Techniques and Printing Materials
There are several types of 3D printing technologies currently available in the market. The type of technology you choose will determine the printer and type of materials you use for 3D printing.
Fused deposition modeling is the most popular type of 3D printing technology. Many hobbyists use printers that apply this technology. It involves the heating of a filament. Once the filament has melted, it is extruded and applied layer by layer to achieve a 3D print. Some of the most common types of filaments used by FDM printers include Polylactic Acid (PLA), Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) and PolyehtyleneTerephtalate Glycol (PETG). The type of filament you choose will depend on the type of products you are printing. Some FDM printers are compatible with different filaments. If you will be using different filaments, consider purchasing these printers.
Stereolithography applies UV light to a resin. The UV light is used to draw a pattern on the photosensitive liquid resin. The resin hardens due to a process known as photopolymerization. This is done layer by layer. This method of 3D printing is suitable for designers dealing with intricate works. They are able to achieve fine details with this 3D printing technology.
Features to Look for in a 3D Printer
Having determined what you will use your 3D printer for and what type of printer you will need, you can now go into the specific features to look out for when selecting a printer. While these will vary for everyone, some basic features to look out for as a beginner include:
- An easy to use the printer
If you’re just getting started with 3D printing and are purchasing your first printer, you should go for a printer that is easy to use. Avoid printers that require you to have specialized knowledge or training to use. Carrying out tasks with the 3D printer you choose should be straight forward. You want a printer with which you can get started with printing right away.
There are many beginner friendly 3D printers in the market. Read reviews to determine what others have experienced with different printers. Avoid printers that are designed for professional use. Go instead for those designed for home use.
- Is compatible with intuitive software
The measure of how easy the 3D printer is to use is not just about being able to load filament into the printer easily. You should also be able to design prints and communicate with the printer easily. You should therefore ensure that the printer’s software is intuitive.
Interacting with a Snapmaker printer is easy. The interface is intuitive and suitable for absolute beginners. You will also have access to Luban, Snapmaker’s open source 3D printer software. This software allows you to create 3D designs for your prints. It is easy to use even for those without a design background.
- Quality prints
Your printer should be more than nice looking. It should also be able to provide you with quality prints. This can be difficult to determine as a beginner. A good way to gauge the print quality is to look at the resolution available from the printer. 100 microns is considered good. This will result in a print for which the lawyers will not be too visible. Go for higher resolution if you want a smoother surface.
Another great way to determine print quality of the printer is to read reviews from people that have purchased and used the printer. Read about the quality of the products and what they have been able to achieve with their printers.
- A heated bed
This is not a must have, but it is good to have. Some filaments work best when you use a heated bed. A heated bed gives you more control over the cooling process. Heated beds also ensure that the print sticks to the bed properly. This in turn allows for more even layering.
- Compatible with different filaments
It is also important to choose a printer that is compatible with different types of filaments. This will allow you to use different types of materials for 3D printing. You won’t be limited in creating products.
There is a wide range of 3D printers available on the market. If you’re searching for your first 3D printer, use the tips above to narrow down your choices and find the printer that best suits your needs and requirements.