Want to buy? Here is what to look for before purchasing.
Less than a decade ago, you had to spend thousands of dollars to get yourself a 3D printer, and 3D printing was mainly used in the manufacturing industry internally. Nowadays, you could purchase a decent 3D printer for just around $200 bucks. Everyone with some creativity could buy one and turn their desktop into a small manufacturing facility. The difficulty is choosing the right one to fit your needs.
Let's get to the questions everyone, especially beginners, should ask themself before buying a printer.
What type of printer should I buy?
Many technologies are used in 3d printers, but the only two that are accessible for desktop 3d printing with reasonable pricing are FDM (fused deposition modeling) and SLA (Stereolithography).
FDM -- is the most common technology used in the 3d printing industry. Here is how it works.
A thermoplastic filament is heated and extruded through a nozzle, depositing the molten plastic in layers on the print bed. These layers are fused, building up throughout the print, eventually forming the finished part.
In general, FDM printers are cost-effective and material choice is excellent, with tons of inexpensive filaments of all types and colors. However, surface quality, level of precision, and the accuracy of each layer are not the best on FDM printers. As a result, layers may not fully adhere to one another, layers are generally clearly visible on the surface, and it hasn't this smooth finish of the SLA, nor has its print speed.
SLA -- SLA printers are on the rise, and it becomes widely popular among the 3d printer community due to their high layer resolution and speed.
The SLA technology produces the model is by hardening a liquid polymer by exposing it to ultraviolet (UV) light. The desired model is constructed layer-by-layer in a vat of liquid photopolymer resin by shining ultraviolet light through the vat's see-through bottom to harden the resin selectively.
There are fewer budget-friendly SLA machines than FDM 3D printers, but prices have dropped drastically on these printers, and you can now buy one for as low as $300. The real issue with the cost stays for the resin liquid itself, which is more expensive than filament spools and, in general, is printing fewer models than a spool of filament.
So here is where you need to decide: do I want a cheaper printer with access to great filament for reasonable pricing? Or maybe buy something more precise and accurate with the printing and faster as well.
What features does my printer need?
Dozens of features can help you with your 3d printing journey, but here is a list of 6 crucial features that you need to consider before making a purchase.
- Heated build plate (print bed) -- You have to know your project and what filament you plan on using, to know if you need a heated bed. For example, if you plan to use ABS, PETG, ASA, Nylon, Polycarbonate, HIPS, or PVA, you need a heated bed.
- Enclosed printer -- If you have kids at home or pets, you may want to buy an enclosed printer so your loved ones are safe. Another reason to consider enclosures is if you print something like ABS that leaves an odor of burned plastic in the room, the enclosure may help reduce it.
- Build volume -- simple know your needed print size before purchasing because there are significant differences in build size between printers.
- Dual extrusion -- Do you plan to print complex parts that need support material? Do you want to print two colors in one model? If the answer is yes, then you need a dual extruder.
- Hotend & bed temperature -- This is necessary if you plan to print with high-temperature materials such as polycarbonate and nylon. For those, you need a hotend temperature of 260 - 310°C and a bed temperature of 80 - 120°C.
- Automatic bed leveling -- having a level print bed is absolutely required for a good print. If the bed is out of level, the first layer may not stick. On some machines, the bed leveling is done manually, usually with adjustment screws used to lower or raise a corner of the bed. Leveling the bed will usually take from a few minutes to a half-hour, depending on how much testing you do to verify that the bed is level. Auto-leveling eliminates the need to level the bed periodically and makes a first layer adhesion a bit more fool-proof.
Where do I buy my new printer?
Especially if you're a beginner, you have to make sure that you're buying from a place that provides helpful support and a manufacturer that gives support and has recourses online to start, upgrade, and troubleshoot your device.
If you use 3D Wholesale, you could buy with peace of mind that you're in good hands and will not be disappointed with our support.