The 3D printing market has been on the rise lately. With it, the number of desktop printers has grown considerably. And so has the demand for those. A 3D printer can print anything ranging from shoes to houses and even medical equipment. The possibilities with 3D printing are endless.
3D printing utilises the technique of additive manufacturing to create three dimensional objects. With such convenience at our fingertips, it goes without saying that 3D printers are in great demand. If you are planning to buy one, there are certain things that need to be paid attention to. In this article, we have shed some light on those. Read on to find out more.
What are you buying the 3D printer for? Is it the hardware of the machinery that you are interested in? Or, would you be printing objects designed by you or others? Many people buy 3D printers to print accessories, trinkets, functional objects and so on. If you fall in the first category, kit-based 3D printers are the ones that would suit your requirement best.
However, if you wish to print objects and not tinker with the machine, then we recommend you to go for a pre-assembled one. These trump the convenience card and produce high-speed prints.
Material You Want to Use
There are various kinds of materials to take your pick from, for example, plastic, nylon, wood and so on. Among these, the most commonly used material is thermoplastic. The following two kinds of thermoplastics are primarily used for 3D printing:
- ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene)
- PLA (Polylactic Acid)
Made from petroleum, ABS is a flexible and durable material that can be given shape easily. It's melting point is high, therefore, making it more resistant to heat. However, one of the major drawbacks of using ABS is that it emits strong fumes during the process of printing and hence, require an adequately ventilated area.
PLA is derived from corn starch, hence it is bio-degradable. It cools down a lot quicker than ABS. However, there are a few drawbacks with using PLA. The melting point of PLA is quite low rendering it non-resistant to heat. Also, it cannot be used to produce detailed objects.
You can also consider using a mixture of ABS and PLA or even other materials to print your objects.
The price of high-quality 3D printers could go up to a few thousand pounds. However, the ones that are least expensive employ the fused deposition modeling (FDM) technology. These usually come with a small build area and cannot print more than one colour at a time.
If you would like to spend a little more and go for a high-end model, then there a lot of advantages that you could get for the money you spend. Some of these include a larger build area, which means it can print large objects. These printers can also print in multiple colours and at a fine resolution. Additionally, you would also get options for the materials to be used for printing. So the end product would be a lot more satisfactory.
Consider Buying an Open Source Printer
High-end models for 3D printers could be very expensive. If you aren't keen on spending a lot of money for a 3D printer, then you can consider getting an open source one. These machines are created by assembling parts that aren't very expensive or are 3D printed themselves. The bad news is these parts do not last long and wear out with time. However, you would also find replacements for these parts in the store that you buy the machine from.
Apart from that, since the machines are open source, you can modify them according to your requirement. This makes the machines flexible and easy to use.
Few Additional Tools
While buying a 3D printer, you would also need to get a set of accessories along with it. Following are a few:
- Sandpaper to smooth rough surfaces of the 3D printed object
- Glue to stick the broken pieces of the 3D printed object together
- Digital calliper to measure the precision of the objects created
- Tweezers to get hold of extra filaments
Buying a 3D printer could be a bit overwhelming. Invest some time in deciding what exactly you need and do a thorough market research before you buying one off. You will not regret it.
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