3D printers and printing technology are not just meant for engineering and science projects. With the increase in its demand, the technology is improving day by day with a decrease in the prices alongside. It is similar with respect to the other new technologies as well. The first model of 3D printers came into the market around 30 years ago. During that time, it was known as the entire solid imaging process stereolithography. The technology is entirely new doe libraries, schools, home users, and so on. Still, it is getting popular because it has become way more affordable than it was back in the day.
With the word affordable, it doesn’t mean that 3D printers are cheap. But it is significantly cheaper than earlier times. It is not particularly necessary for people to own a 3D printer, but more and more people are investing in having their own machines these days.
If you are planning to get a 3D printer, this guide is going to help you make an informed decision to get the best out of your hard earned money. It doesn’t matter if you want to buy a printer now or later in the future, this guide can come handy anytime.
Recommended: Give Freedom to Your Creativity with 3D Pens
Before we go deeper into the subject, you need to understand that all 3D printers aren’t the same when it comes to materials, functionality, quality, or cost. The highest price won’t always get you the best model. Hence, it is essential for you to plan and then decide to get a printer. Now, let’s proceed to the different questions you need to ask before making the final purchase.
1. Is the 3D printer needed?
The answer to this question is self-evident. If you want a 3D print and have a design at the place, to what extent are you willing to go to materialise the print. Do you have other projects on hold? Have you checked for printers that can print the design?
Before you compare 3D printers, you will have to make sure that you know enough about the current technologies in 3D printing. Is it enough to be impressed by YouTube videos, sales pages, and TV tech shows? It is essential to know whether you will be putting the printer on work regularly or not.
2. Which type of printer should you buy?
You will have to get a printer that will be able to make the kind of prints you want at an expected level of quality. You will require a machine that can produce quality prints in the future as well. Currently, there are nine types of 3D printing technologies. These aren’t the considerations for people who want a printer for their home but still can take a look for a better idea.
- Binder Jetting (BJ)
- Material Jetting (MJ)
- Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM)
- Electronic Beam Melting (EBM)
- Selective Laser Melting (SLM)
- Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
- Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM)
- Digital Light Processing (DLP)
- Stereolithography (SLA)
Out of these nine technologies, the two most affordable and popular choice is the Stereolithography (SLA) and Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM).
3. Which printer will be able to meet your expectations?
If you are not very careful about it, you might only be throwing away your money to welcome disappointment. All 3D printers are not the same. It is the same for technologies and machines.
If you are a novice, you won’t be making large prints that come with intricate details. However, you are planning on selling your services; having a high-quality printer must be necessary. Hence, know your needs and based on that decide on the printer. Two essential factors that require your focus include –
- Print Speed
- Print Resolution
4. How essential is the print speed for you?
Your expectations matter the most when it comes to print speed. At times, the fastest printer is not the best because it might decrease the quality level of the print. The print speed is also affected by the size and complexity of the object that you plan on printing. You will have to wait longer if the purpose needs to be of high resolution. It is not possible to place an average time on 3D prints because it could easily range from a couple of minutes to a few hours, depending on the characteristics of the printer and printer.
5. What are your final goals?
When you compare 3D printers, you will have to keep your final goals in mind. You would not like to invest in a tiny, budget 3D printer of your ambitions are big. You need to keep the bigger picture in mind when you plan on buying a printer, especially when they can cost a bomb.
6. Where should you buy a 3D printer?
You will be able to find 3D printers in most of the e-commerce websites in the market. If you do not have a lot of money to spare, you could also take a look at the second-hand options. However, it can be riskier for you as will not have a clear picture of how long the machine has been used for by the previous owners. If you are a first-time buyer, it is better to buy a new machine than rely on a second-hand one.
These are a few pointers you will have to keep in mind when you are planning on buying a 3D printer. Make sure that you do thorough research before you go and make a purchase to ensure that your decision is the best.