What to consider when buying a 3D printer

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If you are looking to buy a 3D printer, you need to take into consideration several factors to make an informed decision. Additionally, with the increased number of options of 3D printers available on the market, it becomes even harder to decide which printer best suits your needs.

However, you should not worry anymore because you will get to learn the essential factors to consider to get a 3D model that best suits your needs and expectations.

​Important Factors to Take Into Account

Size of the print bed

3D printers usually incorporate 3D print beds that come in non-heated as well as heated options, and it plays a vital role to the outcome of your 3D printed parts. This is because it is this part that firmly holds the materials in position.

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Before you start your project, you need to confirm that the object is holding to the 3D printer bed by either preheating the bed or making use of glues. The PLA filament is typically more flexible, so you opt to use either an adhesive or heat, whereas, with the ABS filament, you need to have a heated bed. Additionally, a bigger 3D print bed allows you to print bigger 3D models.

Print speed

Print speed should not be your primary focus when looking to buy a 3D printer since the quicker the printing times, the lower the quality of the subsequent 3D model. This is especially when a printer has printing speeds of over 150mm/s. Therefore, you need first to establish the parts you wish to print before deciding on a 3D printer that can deliver the required speeds. If you are looking to create big, high-quality 3D objects, it is recommended you opt for a slower version.

Moreover, the overall print speed is affected by the complexity and size of your 3D model, plus the height layer you choose. When printing higher-resolution objects, you will wait for a longer duration, but the subsequent item will be smoother and of much better quality. Thus, you need to have patience if you want to make a 3D item that boasts incredible quality.

The type of material used in printing

Advancements in 3D technology have led to significant improvement in both machines as well as the ranges and types of materials used in printing. Additionally, not every 3D printer can print using different kinds of materials.

Many of you reading this guide are most probably looking for consumer-oriented gadgets, that is desktop 3D printers rather than the industrial-type printer. Therefore, with these consumer-oriented 3D printers, you will usually make use of a plastic filament that is available online in different colors, lengths as well as diameters. Some of the most common 3D materials include:

  • Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVA): It is a distinct kind of water-soluble plastic that you can find in several types of packaging, paper adhesive, kid’s putty as well as hygiene products.
  • Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS): It is an excellent material for toys, musical instruments, and kitchen appliances.
  • Polylactic Acid (PLA): This material, unlike ABS and PVA, is environmentally friendly thus has a broad range of uses such as food packaging, surgical implants, disposable garments, and many other creative designs.

3D printing quality

The print quality of 3D printers is usually measured by factoring in two main factors, that is the printing speed and how meticulous the final object is. A printer’s level of quality is calculated in microns, and the smaller this number, the higher the print quality, plus the faster the printing speed, the quicker your 3D model will be ready.

Therefore, by understanding your desired print speed as well as how detailed the 3D object is, you will be in a better position to choose a 3D printer that suits your needs. Furthermore, some 3D printers have a build volume that is relatively small hence only ideal for DIY home projects, whereas others provide you with a huge build size. It is thus up to you to assess your requirements to know whether you will be better off with either the larger or smaller 3D printer.

Your safety when using the 3D printer

You must take all the necessary precautions when working in high temperatures environments, thereby guaranteeing not only your safety but also that of your tools. The design of 3D printers differs from one model to another, meaning the safety varies depending on the specific model you are using.

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Some of the 3D printers feature enclosures surrounding the printing area that typically gets very hot, whereas others do not incorporate this kind of protection. 

Therefore, you need to gauge how conversant you are with using a 3D printer or if kids will be using the printer to decide. Consequently, you will be in a better place to select a printer that ensures the safety of yourself and all other users.

Type of 3D printer

When looking for a 3D printer, you need to search for one that can produce what you need and in remarkable quality. Moreover, you should look to whether the device can print objects that you are hoping to create in the future. You have the option to choose from nine 3D printing technologies, and these are:

  • Fused deposition modeling (FDM)
  • Stereolithography (SLA)
  • Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
  • Electronic Beam Melting (EBM)
  • Selective Laser Melting (SLM)
  • Laminated object manufacturing (LOM)
  • Digital Light Processing
  • Binder Jetting (BJ)
  • Material Jetting (MJ)
  • If you are a home user, the more affordable options among these options are the Stereolithography and Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM).

And finally, the price

​The price of the 3D printer is a crucial factor that you need to consider since this, in most cases, is equivalent to the quality of the product. Nevertheless, you may require an expensive printer if you are planning to do simple DIY projects, and nowadays, you can find a high-quality model for about USD$300. You can also get the 3D printing pen for less than USD$30 if you want an exciting tool to use when idle. However, if you want a 3D printer that provides you professional quality objects and features a bigger printing bed and higher working temperatures, you need to set aside about USD$1000 with the top-notch models costing more than USD$2000.

About the Author Dan

Just a random guy who likes to build things. Providing tool knowledge, appliance/device testing tips, and DIY project info in an easy-to read & non-intimidating style.