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10 Things to Look for When Buying a 3D Printer

 |  Gregory Chapman

What to Look for when Buying a 3D Printer

factors to consider before buying a 3D printer

Nowadays, in small and big businesses, manufacturing facilities, and at home, 3D printers are being widely used. This technique can easily print details, templates, and even toys within just a few hours. Do you know what specs to consider when buying this awesome tool?

It is no secret that 3D printing on a special printer opens up a world of possibilities for design and creativity. Furthermore, such equipment becomes more affordable and accessible to a wider range of people.

As a result, you may be faced with a decision like selecting a 3D printer for your business or home. There are some nuances in this case that should be considered, and, ideally, they should be identified ahead of time.

What Determines The Quality Of A 3D Printer?

factors to consider before buying a 3D printer

The quality of a 3D printed item is determined by a variety of factors. Some are related to the printer’s characteristics, while others are dependent on the condition of the printing material. Let us look at the main factors that influence your 3D print and contribute to the creation of a high-quality product.

What Should I Consider When Buying A 3D Printer?

You will have to pay attention to many features to select the best option. Here are the top ten considerations when purchasing such a printing device.

Printing Technology

There are two types of printing technology:

  • Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) – using a laser. They are extremely accurate and are used in the production of miniature parts, such as those used by dentists and jewelers;
  • Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) – using a layer-by-layer build-up of plastic. It is more appropriate for printing larger objects.

Size And Print Area

When deciding on the size of your 3D printer, consider the size of the objects you intend to print with it.

Model Complexity And Quality

The complexity of the 3D models you want to print is another factor to consider. You should decide how complex the models you will be printing on the 3D printer will be.

If you intend to create complex prototypes or art models, you will need a 3D printer that can print in two materials. This is so your printer can support printing from soluble material.

If the models you are going to print are not complex, you can get by with just one extruder and save money. A complex model is one with numerous elements weighing in the air or elements with angles greater than 30 degrees. The quality is affected by the printer’s resolution and print speed.

The most basic way to improve the quality of 3D printed models is to ensure that the bed of the 3D printer is properly leveled. You should also place the nozzle at the proper distance. The recommended distance between the bed and the nozzle is usually included in most printers. Using a feeler gauge or a simple piece of paper can help you set this distance.

Materials Used For Printing

factors to consider before buying a 3D printer

3D printers make use of different materials are in creating items. It all depends on the printing technology you intend to employ.

Polylactic acid (PLA) and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) are two materials required for 3D printing. Both are thermoplastics that soften and become pliable when heated and freeze when cooled.

PLA

This type of plastic is derived from corn starch. It is an ideal variant for beginners. It is also ideal for making small, simple items.

Pros:

  • Biodegradable and environmentally friendly;
  • Quickly cools, preventing warping of the model;
  • Available in both bright and translucent tones, giving printed objects a glossy appearance.

Cons:

  • Low melting point, which causes model deformation at high temperatures;
  • It is difficult to work with if you need joints and blocking parts.

ABS

It is an oil-based plastic that is popular due to its strength and flexibility. It is often used to create Lego parts.

Pros:

  • Its adaptability makes it easier to create deadlock elements.
  • It has a higher melting point, making your creations less prone to deformation in high-temperature environments.

Cons:

  • When compared to PLA-printed items, the ABS-printed items take longer to cool.

Which one to choose?

You should understand which material is appropriate for printing your 3D model. The printer type is chosen based on this data. It is important to note that not all 3D printers can work with two materials. The majority of 3D printers can only work with one.

Type of 3D Design

Some printers have an open design, while others have a closed one. Open-design printers typically have kinematics with a horizontally moving table. This kinematics has some inherent disadvantages, including:

  • The complexity of the configuration;
  • Lower print speed;
  • May have issues with print quality;
  • May have so-called “wobbling”;
  • The lack of closed housing can interfere with the printing quality of high shrinkage plastics.

The major advantage of open-design printers is that they are significantly cheaper compared to closed-design printers. Closed-design printers typically have a closed housing that allows for the most efficient printing of plastics with a high degree of shrinkage.

The Nozzle’s Diameter And The Possibility Of Its Replacement

The majority of 3D printers on the market come with nozzles of 0.3-0.4 mm diameter. It is more than enough to handle the majority of 3D printer tasks. Some printers also allow for the installation of a nozzle with a different diameter.

The nozzles with a large diameter are seldom used in printing. The most optimal options are nozzles no larger than 0.3-0.4 mm in diameter. The nozzles having big diameters are usually used to perform special tasks, for example, produce big objects in a short time.

Printing Layer Thickness

The thinner the printing layer is, the higher the quality of the printed model. The layer’s thickness should typically be 0.1-0.2 mm. Nonetheless, models with a thickness of 0.05 mm are also available on the market.

Not every 3D printer is capable of printing extremely thin layers. For example, RepRaps 3D printer models have a total resolution of 100 microns. Professional machines, such as the Zortrax M200, can go beyond this, allowing the manufacturer to apply layers as thin as 90 microns.

Extruder Type

There are two types of extruders available – Direct and Bowden extruders. The first is more user-friendly and reliable, while the second is positioned more precisely and prints faster.

The Cost

It is frequently the most influential factor in the selection of a 3D printer, but all other factors should also be taken into account. 3D printers for professional printing are usually expensive.

If you only want to use a 3D printer at home, you can go for simple models. If you are on a tight budget, it makes sense to postpone the purchase and then later purchase exactly what you require.

Manufacturer And Reviews

Before purchasing any expensive or high-tech item, you should research and gather information on the product’s features and reviews page. Prioritize features that play a crucial role in the creation of 3D models. Compare several items to find the one that best matches your requirements.

People’s reviews are also important, especially if the product costs a lot of money. Consider another option if the item listed on a particular website lacks reviews.

Final Thoughts

Without a doubt, it is critical to consider what a 3D printer will be used for before opting for a specific model. It is the primary determiner of the future purchase.

It may be difficult to make the final decision, but keep in mind that the quality of the produced model will determine the success of your small business and client demand.


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choosing a 3D printer

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