Recently, 3D printing has become so popular. A lot of people are investing in getting their own 3D printers. It is only because they are becoming cheaper than ever.
One side of the story is that scientists and engineers need them for their projects. The other is where people use them to make DIYs and print gadgets or toys. Even artists use 3D printing nowadays.
Because of the variety of 3D printers on the market, we decided to help you decide on which 3D printer to get, and what to look for in a 3D printer that will help you get the job done.
Do You Need to Buy a 3D Printer?
Think about how long you are going to be using this printer. You might have seen a couple of videos about 3D printers and how impressive they are. But, is this a good enough reason to buy a printer? Are you currently working on a 3D project?
And if yes, how often do you work on one? If you have a list of 3D projects that you need to work on, then it may be a good idea to get a printer.
However, if you only have three projects lined up, I believe it makes far more sense to use any 3D printing service like Sculpeto, and save a lot of money.
Also, you need to consider how much you know about 3D printing. It is not as easy as some tutorials make it seem.
The truth is, learning how to use a 3D printer is a bit of a challenge. It does have a learning curve, and you will need to spend some time working on it to be able to get the hang of things.
Read also: Cheap 3D Printer under $200
What Are the Types of 3D Printers Available?
Generally speaking, there are ten different types of 3D printing technologies namely:
- Stereolithography (SLA)
- Digital Light Processing (DLP)
- Fused deposition modeling (FDM)
- Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
- Selective laser melting (SLM)
- Electronic Beam Melting (EBM)
- Laminated object manufacturing (LOM)
- Metal Binder Jetting (MJ)
- Sand Binder Jetting (BJ)
- Drop on Demand
However, most of these technologies are not suitable for home use and are not per se affordable. The only two options that aren’t as expensive as the other, and you can use them at home are FDM and SLA. And this is why we will only talk to you about these two technologies.
1. Fused Deposition Melting (FDM) Printers
FDM printers are the most commonly used printers at home, due to several reasons.
To begin with, they are the most affordable and the most cost-effective. Also, they can produce parts rapidly and reliably. Not to mention the variety available on the market, with a price range from a couple of hundred dollars to thousands.
Add to this the fact that the technology keeps improving, and newer models keep appearing.
How Do FDM Printers Work?
It starts by heating, then the extrusion of a molten plastic filament. The build plate then lowers the object allowing additional layers to be added on top.
If you are printing objects that have overhangs, you will need to support them until the printing process is over.
2. Stereolithography (SLA) Printers
These are known as resin printers. They are suitable for home users as well. They perform in a way that is more complicated than FDM printers.
However, they produce more detailed objects with a smoother finish. For these reasons, you should expect that SLA printers are more expensive than FDM printers.
Related Article: The 5 Best 3D Printers for Miniatures 2020 [Complete Guide]
How Do SLA printers Work?
The process begins with liquid plastic. A layer of the photosensitive resin is exposed to a UV laser beam, which makes it harden.
The laser gives the object the desired pattern, and just like FDM, one layer is added on top of the previous one once it hardens.
Objects printed by SLA will need supporting structures as well. After they are printed, they should be rinsed with a solvent or even baked in a UV oven.
FDM vs. SLA: Which is Better for You?
You might be struggling to decide which one of these to get. So, let us help you make up your mind. Think about the cost of the printer and the quality you need.
If you are looking for a printer that will allow you to get high precision to print cosmetics or jewelry, then go for an SLA printer. If you are on a tight budget and you don’t need a lot of details with your prints, then go for FDM.
How to Get a Printer that Meets Your Expectations?
Well, the first thing you need to decide is what you want from your printer. You shouldn’t expect the most expensive printer to produce the best objects.
Don’t miss out on the fact that certain printers, even if quite pricey, might be intended for a different print type than what you are aiming to print.
Also, the cost of the printer doesn’t stop at buying the printer itself. When you set your budget, count in the money you will be spending on the materials this printer needs to operate.
Think about the size of your prints and check if the printer you have your eyes on can produce it. Also, consider the resolution of the print. The smaller the resolution of your printer is, the better.
Another thing to take into consideration is the speed of your printer, and the time it will take to print your project. It is a mistake to think that the faster the printer is, the better.
In fact, the faster the printer is, the lower the quality of the output will be. You wouldn’t want your project to take forever to be ready, but also, rushing things won’t do you any good.
Instead, go for something that is more optimum and will produce an impressive object, and at the same time, will take a considerable and appropriate time to get the job done.
Where Can You Buy a 3D Printer?
There are two ways to get your new 3D printer. The first and more preferred way is to get a new printer from the high street. This way, you will get to test your machine before you go ahead and buy it. You might get insurance, and it will be easier to return it if you found it faulty.
The other way is to shop online from Amazon or eBay. If you are looking to lower the price by getting a second-hand printer, then this is the way to go.
However, this is a bit risky, and you might not be getting the best of the used printer as you would if you got a new one of the same model.