3D printing technology hasn’t been around for long. Only a little over a decade ago, 3D printing technology was something reserved for factories and corporations with deep pockets. However, technology has advanced rapidly in the last decade. More companies have developed 3D printers for home use and made the technology more readily available. Schools, businesses and even hobbyists can now purchase a 3D printing machine at competitive prices.
If you’re in the market for a 3D printer, you may be wondering what to look for when purchasing a 3D printer. Below we discuss tips to help make your purchasing journey easier.
Know What You Want to Print
If you’re in the market for a 3D printer, you probably already have an idea of what you want to print. Deciding what you want to print will help to narrow down your choices a great deal.
If you’re going to be printing household objects or objects that are commonly found in office environments, you would do well to go with an FDM printer. The printer should be compatible with materials such as Polylactic acid (PLA), Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol (PETG) and Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS). These materials are commonly used for household items.
If you’ll be printing artwork, an FDM printer would be a good investment. A resin printer would also be a great choice. Whichever type of printer you choose, be sure to find out if it can print details with a high level of accuracy. This is important for those projects with intricate details.
What Style of Printer is Best for Your Needs
3D printing technology today comes with different printing styles. Understanding the different styles and what they offer will help you narrow down your choices for printers.
- FDM printers
Fused Deposition Modeling printers are quite popular with hobbyists. These printers heat filament and extrude it into the shape in layers.
- SLA printers
Stereolithography printers use photo-solidification for printing. This process involves a chemical reaction to form the layers in the print. Photos are directed to specific points. These photons cause the resin to solidify.
- SLS printers
Selective Laser Sintering printers use lasers to create layers. The lasers are focused on specific points in a vat of powder. This causes the powder to solidify. These printers are ideal for creating detailed objects such as complex industrial parts.
- DLP Printers
Digital Light Processing also uses a chemical reaction to form layers. Light is directed to various points in the resin. The polymers harden into place within the vat.
Many individuals, educational facilities and businesses use FDM printers. They are also a great choice for those concerned about 3D printer cost. They are some of the most affordable printers in the market.
Decide What Materials You Will Print With
The type of material you will use for printing will depend on the type of products you will be producing. Identifying the type of material you will be using for printing will help you narrow down your choices for printers. You will need to purchase a 3D printer that is compatible with the material you will use.
If you go with a filament printer, you should choose a printer that is compatible with the most common filament types. These include PLA, PETG and ABS. If you go with a resin printer, you will have various options for materials available to you ranging from standard resin to medical grade resins.
Decide on the Type of Software You Will Use
There are two types of software that you will need to consider when selecting a 3D printer.
- The slicer – this is the software on your computer. It is the software that you use to create the 3D printer file. You should choose software that is easy to use. This will mean less time spent on learning how to use the software. You can get started with making your prints as soon as possible.
- Firmware – this is the software that comes with the 3D printer. It is what you use to communicate with the 3D printer and actually have your designs printed. Just as with the slicer, you should ensure that the printer comes with software that is user friendly.
Snapmaker offers you access to Luban. This popular 3D printing software is free and easy to use. You can get started with printing faster. Luban provided features that are great for hobbyists as well as professionals working in the production of intricate 3D prints. The software is compatible with all Snapmaker 3D printers.
Consider Your Budget
This is a major factor to consider when shopping for a 3D printer. 3D printer prices range widely. However, FDM printers are generally more affordable than other types of printers. If you’re working on a tight budget, you should consider these types of printers.
When considering printer costs, it is also important to consider long term costs. These include the costs of filaments as well as the cost of maintaining your 3D printer. FDM printers still come out on top in this regard. Filaments for FDM printers are more widely available and therefore more affordable than resins. 3D printer parts for FDM printers are also more widely available and more affordable.
It is also important to consider the level of support the manufacturer of the 3D printer offers. 3D printers are a huge investment even for those with more flexibility in their budgets. You therefore want to be able to enjoy using your printer for as long as possible. It is therefore important to be able to access help to troubleshoot problems with your printer whenever they arise. You should also be able to access parts for replacement and anything else required for maintenance. Choose a printer from a brand that offers great support.
Are you in search of the best 3D printer? Consider the factors outlined above and search the market for a printer that meets your specific needs and requirements. With a little effort, you should easily find the right 3D printer for your application.