What is the Best 3D Printer to Buy?
With a 3D printer in your home or office, you get a nearly infinite array of printing possibilities. Whether you want to print a phone case, figurine, or toy, it is all possible with 3D printing.
However, the trick is in choosing the right 3D printer to buy and not just buying blindly or due to hype. 3D printers are available in an impressive and wide array of capabilities and sizes. So, what is the best 3D printer to buy?
Below are a few things to look out for when purchasing to ensure you get the best 3D printer deals.
The Cost of 3D Printers
This ranks among the biggest determining factors when buying a 3D printer. Expectedly, professional 3D printers cost a pretty penny. But if you need a 3D printer for basic home use, there are lots of 3D printer deals in the market offering simpler models.
In case your budget is tight, it makes sense to postpone the purchase until you can buy what you exactly need rather than buy something that won't serve your purposes.
Your 3D Printing Expectations
As simple as this factor seems, overlooking it could be an expensive mistake. 3D printers are different, and you should be keen when buying. Imagine buying a 3D printer only to discover that its size doesn't match your needs or it is substandard.
Keep your ultimate printing goals in mind before buying. For example, would you buy a small sports car as your first car if you are planning to start a family soon, would you? In the same case, you wouldn't buy a small, low-budget 3D printer if you have huge printing ambitions.
Check for Superior Features
Do you know that you can take your 3D printing experience to the next level with a few high-quality aspects? That is why it is important not to ignore such high-quality features when buying your 3D printer. Look for features such as heated glass beds, dual filament support, and a touchscreen user interface.
Customer Support System
Before taking home your new 3D printer, take a peep at the manufacturer’s/seller’s customer support system. Do they have a well-run system or just a basic social media page? In case something turns awry, such a group can be a lifesaver as far as your 3D printing is concerned.
Type of Extruder
Extruders come in two types:
- Direct extruders
- Bowden Extruders
Direct extruders provide a user-friendly experience and reliability. On the other hand, Bowden extruders print faster and are accurately positioned.
Now that you are sure you need a 3D printer, what type should you buy? First, you need a printer that can create what you need. In addition, your printer should have the potential to produce stuff you wish to make in the future. This brings us to printing technology.
There are nine major technologies, ranging from Stereolithography (SLA), Digital Light Processing (DLP), Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), and Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), among others.
However, for home use, Stereolithography and Fused Deposition Modeling are the most affordable and popular options.
The Size of the Print Bed
3D print beds can be either heated or non-heated. The bed holds your object steadily from the word go, meaning it is a crucial part of your 3D printer.
To hold the object during the process, it is vital to adhere it to the bed either by using glue or preheating the bed. In a nutshell, the bigger the 3D print bed is, the bigger the objects you can print.
Print Resume Function
Imagine ruining a stunning print halfway through the process. Agonizing, isn't it? When buying your 3D printer, ensure that it comes with a print resume aspect to avoid interruptions when sudden pauses occur.
Open or Closed Frame?
Then there is the issue of an open or closed frame. Again, both options have their pros and cons.
- Open-frame 3D Printer
As the name implies, this printer is more exposed. This is a great thing since you'll get to see the process as it unfolds. Also, it offers fast access to the extruder and printer bed.
- Closed-frame 3D Printer
This type of 3D printer comes within an entirely enclosed structure, with a door, walls, and lid. The best thing about closed-frame 3D printers is assured safety. Imagine pets or children burning themselves in case they touch the exposed extruder.
In addition, closed-frame 3D printers help minimize odors, which can be overwhelming, particularly if the room's ventilation is poor. Finally, the closed-frame printers are way quieter than the open-frame ones and easily maintain temperatures.
Printing Layer Thickness
The thinner the printing layer, the better the quality of your printed object. Typically, the thickness should be between 0.1 and 0.2 mm. However, there are 3D printers with a 0.05 mm thickness on the market.
Remember that not all 3D printers can print very thin layers. But there are professional 3D printing machines that can produce layers with a thickness of 90 microns.
Types of Printing Materials
3D printing technology has grown in leaps and bounds in terms of machines and materials used. Before buying your 3D printer, you should know the type(s) of material you will print with. Remember, not all 3D printers can print using all types of materials.
Let’s briefly go through the different types of printing materials:
- Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS)
ABS is an excellent material for toys, home and kitchen appliances, musical instruments, and the like. A case in point of ABS is Lego bricks.
- Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVA)
PVA is a special kind of plastic that is soluble in water. It is mostly found in different kinds of packaging, paper adhesives, children's putty, and hygienic products. Another example is fishing bait containers, which use PVA, which act as bait to attract fish after dissolving in water.
Fishing bait containers use PVA that dissolves under water, thus releasing the bait to attract nearby fish. In 3D printing, PVA sometimes acts to provide support structures to 3D objects during the build process.
- Polylactic Acid (PLA)
PLA is found in an amazing array of stuff, including diapers (and other disposable garments), food packaging, and surgical implants. Its major advantage is it is environmentally friendly.
The Best Place to Buy 3D Printers
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These are just some of the more important factors to consider when buying your 3D printer. Making the final decision may be daunting, but you cannot expect successful printing if the 3D printer doesn't match your needs and expectations.