The enhancement of 3D printing technology has opened up a whole new level of possibilities. Whether it’s an individual or a large enterprise, everyone is moving toward adopting the 3D printing process to harness its advantages. A large number of manufacturing plants have already started using 3D printing to manufacture prototypes or even the final product.
Nike has partnered with HP to create 3D printing shoes, General Electric has started using 3D printers to create lightweight parts for their aircraft and similarly, 3D printing is being widely used in industries like Medical, Cars, and Aerospace. It’s not liked these big companies are the only ones who can buy a 3D printer.
Being an individual, you can also buy a 3D printer, there are a few types of the 3D printer for different needs. Whether you want to print out a smartphone case or a toy, you just need to pick the right 3D printer to fulfill your need and most importantly it should fit in your budget.
What Type of 3D Printer Do You Need?
The 3D printer starts with a price range of around $200 and goes all the up to several thousand dollars. They also come in a wide variety and many different sizes. They also come packed with a variety of different technologies such as FDM and DLP so before buying a printer you must know whether you are spending money on the right one. Read along and we will help you out.
FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling)
This is the most common one you will find to buy right now. It creates an object by heating the filament, which is fed through a tube and made into shape along with the three-axis. These printers are famous for their horizontal layer lines and provide good precision, but you still have to smooth out the final printed object. While using this printer you can either expect a Delta or Cartesian style frame construction. Most of the FDM printer you will find will be Cartesian style because they offer good controls and better end products.
SLA (Stereolithography Printers)
This type of 3D printer utilizes a process known as photo solidification. It is the first 3D printing technology was invented way back in 1986. This process belongs to Vat Photopolymerization family. Here the chemical reaction forms the layer of the object. To be more precise the object is created by selectively curing a polymer resin layer-by-layer using an ultraviolet laser beam. The photons focus on a specific point and make an SLA resin solidify. These printers are very precise and we can expect the end product to be smooth and of high-quality print with fine details.
DLP (Digital Light Processing)
The Digital Light Processing is very much similar to the SLA type printers. Both of them use the polymerization to create each layer of the object. When the light targets a specific point in the resin, the polymer reacts and hardline into its place. Just like SLA Printer, the object printed on DLP printers turns out to be very smooth and of high quality.
SLS (Selective Laser Sintering)
The next up is the Selective Laser Sintering which the object by adding layers, focusing a laser to a point inside a vat of powder. The power then solidifies as the layer moves to a new location. This type of 3D printers is used to create complex industrial parts that have a difficult structure and require more precision. SLS turns out to be great in creating detailed objects.
What do you want to Print?
Before buying a 3D printer you must decide what you are going to print or just have something in your mind otherwise you are going to buy something which doesn’t turn out to be great. Here are some of the common objects and the right 3D printer to print each of them.
Household objects – These are the common objects you can print and use them in your house such as cutlery. As these objects don’t experience the forces of nature, the best option will be to use an FDM printer. You can print anything you decide to use and use a food-safe filament.
Artwork – An FDM printer is also great if you decide to create some artworks but the best choice should go with a resin printer. They will provide more precision and you can print complex designs with more details.
Tools – When you are printing tools, you must get something that can last longer and is sturdy enough. At the end, it depends on where the application is. If you need something more professional, the FDM printer might not be the choice.
Professional Products – A 3D printer can be used to create professional products rather than just prototyping. Many manufacturers take advantage of 3D printers to create original components such as the Nike Shoe we talked about before. If you are looking for one such printer then invests in a resin printer.
How Much Should You Spend?
You will find a different range of printers in each of the styles we have talked about. Here you can find the estimated price you have to spend.
|3D Printer Style||Low $||Mid $$||High $$$|
|FDM||$150.00 (€136.00)||$500.00 (€453.00)||$1,000.000 (€907.00)|
|SLA||$500.00 (€453.00)||$1,000.000 (€907.00)||$2,500.000 (€2,267.00)|
|DLP||$500.00 (€453.00)||$1,000.000 (€907.00)||$2,500.000 (€2,267.00)|
|SLS||$5,000.00 (€4,533.00)||$10,000.00 (€9,067.00)||$30,000.00 (€27,200.00)|
No doubt 3D printers are the future of manufacturing. They are also getting more affordable when each year passes. The day is not far away when we will find a 3D printer at a cost of a regular printer. But coming to the present, you should not spend more than you have to on a 3D printer.
Figure out first what you want to print and use that to find the right 3D printer for you. Again, simply don’t go with the lowest priced one, look for high-quality features such as a quality support system and built-in security protocols.
If you spend a little more of your time in research, then you will definitely find the right printer in the right price.