In recent years, 3D printing has become super affordable and supports many industries in never-before-imagined ways. Starting from replacing small home appliances to repairing artwork, 3D printing is doing some amazing crazy stuff. It’s no wonder why business owners are actively investing in 3D printers.
But buying a 3D printer is not a cakewalk. There are many things that you need to consider while buying a 3D printer, like types of 3D printers, materials used in a 3D printer, 3D printer maintenance, application of a 3D printer, and nearby 3D printer services available.
So, if you are planning to buy a 3D printer, we have created this small guide that will give you all the required information about 3D printers and help you make a sound decision.
Let’s get started without wasting any more time!
If you’ve landed on this blog post, we are assuming that you have a little knowledge about 3D printing and 3D printers. But if you don’t, you don’t have to worry! Here’s a quick and simple definition of a 3D printer and what does it do:
Also known as Additive Manufacturing, 3D printing is a method of creating three-dimensional objects layer-by-layer with Computer-Aided-Design(CAD).
In other words, 3D printing is the process of layering materials with plastics, composites, or bio-materials to develop objects of different shapes, sizes, rigidities, and colours.
3D printing is generally used for creating product models, prototypes, and final products like furniture, tools, novelty items, toys, tripods, shoe designs, and wax casting for making jewellery.
Now coming to the types of 3D printers, there are quite a few options available based on your requirements and how you are going to use them. Let’s have a detailed look at the types of 3D printers.
Types of 3D Printers
Two of the most common entry-level types of 3D printers are SLA and FDM. Each type of 3D is fundamentally different in the way they function and the materials they use.
Most of the 3D printers available in the market today are used for manufacturing and other industrial applications. Here are some of the most common types of 3D printers:
1. FDM Printers:
The abbreviation means Fused Deposition Modelling, and it functions by melting filament with heat and feeding it through a tube to create multiple and different shapes.
FDM creates objects by adding materials on the X, Y, and Z-axis. Users generally use FDM for hobby 3D printing, and it has two types of frame construction – Cartesian and Delta.
Cartesian printers have dedicated motors for the X and Z-axis while the bed moves along the Y-axis to decrease the speed time, whereas Delta-style printers have a separate motor for each axis and thus taking more time for printing and producing sloppier final products. However, most FDM printers are Cartesian.
The downside of FDM printers is that no matter what FDM printer you use, your final product will be coarse, and you will need to do manual smoothing for the final touch.
2. SLS Printers:
The abbreviation means Selective Laser Sintering and works similar to Stereolithography (SLA) printers, but the major difference is that SLS uses laser and powder materials to create 3D objects.
With SLS printers, you can get detailed, yet sturdy final products as SLS printers harden the powder by targeting laser points at specified areas. SLS is mainly used for printing objects that need to be flexible, complex, and detailed.
3. SLA Printers
Stereolithography (SLA) printers work on photo-solidification, a chemical treatment process, to form the different layers of the final product with liquid resin. The ultraviolet laser hardens the inserted pattern into the material one layer of resin at a time. SLA printers are well-known for their high-quality print with great detailing. Moreover, the final products of SLA require minimum post-print work.
4. DLP Printers:
Digital Light Printing (DLP) is almost similar to SLA, with the major difference in the light source they use. DLP Printers use traditional light sources like arc lamps, while SLA uses ultraviolet light. Though being the oldest form of 3D printing, it is still considered high-quality by today’s standards.
However, DLS printers are rarely available and are quite expensive, so has a limited market.
5. SLM Printers:
The abbreviation means Selective Laser Melting. SLM printers are commonly found in universities and the medical field. It uses a high-powered laser beam to form 3D objects with powdered metals. SLM is the best choice if you want to create machine parts that have complex geometry and need to be incredibly thin and detailed.
Materials Needed For 3D printing:
After knowing the types of 3D printers, now it’s time to know the materials needed for 3D printing. The twist here is that there are some materials that work with specific types of devices.
There are multiple variations in filament materials, and each one has specific use cases and has significant effects on the final products. FDM printers use plastic filaments for printing objects layer by layer.
However, there are two most common plastic print materials:
Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) is a petroleum-based plastic popular for its strength and flexibility. It is common and inexpensive material generally used for small kitchen items and other miscellaneous items. Moreover, it’s also a popular choice for creating Lego bricks and interlocking pieces. It is standard in toys and consumer manufacturing.
If you are just starting out with 3D printing, ABS is a good choice as it’s affordable and easily available 3D print material.
The good part about ABS? It has a higher melting point, making it very less likely for your creations to deform under high heat. Nonetheless, ABS takes more time to cool compared to PLA and is susceptible to warping while emitting fumes while printing.
Polylactic Acid is an environmentally-friendly 3D printing material compared to other materials. It is commonly used for food storage and disposable items. PLA is a little expensive and hard to find compared to ABS.
Both of these thermoplastics (ABS & PLA) become soft and malleable when heated and frozen when cool.
3D Printer Maintenance Tips:
Same as many other things, your 3D printer will need maintenance, and if you don’t take care properly, you may need 3D printer repair services soon.
It is always advisable to have regular and scheduled maintenance for your 3D printer as it will save you a huge cost of 3D printer repair services. You can always follow the manufacturer’s guide to ensure the good condition and avoid frequent 3D printer repair services.
Here are some 3D Printer Maintenance Tips to Follow:
- Clean your 3D printer regularly,
- If you have not used your 3D printer in a while, ensure it’s dust-free, as contamination could ruin a print,
- Wipe your printer after every use,
- The belts of your printers may need lubrication, tensioning, or replacing from time to time, so adjust your printer bed often and adjust accordingly.
- The printer’s nozzle will become clogged with the melted filament, so you need to clean them regularly.
- To clean the nozzle, you need to either heat up the nozzle, clean it with a brush or pull the clog with pliers; and if none of this work, you may need to replace the nozzle.
Here Are Some Safety Features To Keep In Mind While Dealing With 3D Printers:
- Wear Goggles:
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, nearly 20,000 eye injuries occur at the workplace. Though not all of them are because of 3D printers, there are some chances of accidents, so better you protect yourself with Goggles.
- Control Temperature:
3D printers work the best at particular temperatures, and it releases toxic fumes if the heat goes beyond the limit. You can protect your and fellow workers’ health by maintaining the temperature of 3D printers.
- Wear Tight-Fit Clothes:
As 3D printers have a lot of moving parts that move too quickly and powerfully, If you have loose-fitted clothes on, you may get caught up. Thus, it is highly recommended to wear tight-fitted clothes.
As 3D printers release toxic fumes, it is necessary to keep them in ventilated spaces to prevent yourself from those harmful and toxic fumes.
- Avoid Touching 3D Printers:
3D printers heat the raw material before depositing that into a print bed, and it may have as high as 400 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures – depending on the type of the 3D printer and the material it uses. To avoid painful burns, don’t touch 3D printers while they are working.
Buying a 3D printer is the best choice you can make, provided you’ll use it to its best and increase the revenue of your business. Though you may need to invest a bit in the earlier stage, 3D printers are all worth it. Make sure you choose the right 3D printers based on your requirements and the final output you are looking for.
If you have any questions regarding 3D printers or want 3D printer services, feel free to reach out to us at 888-928-6811 or email us at [email protected] now!