3D printing is carried out by 3D printers that generate or produce three-dimensional objects. What should you know about 3D printing? 3D printing is a part of a procedure known as additive manufacturing. In this process, numerous layers of material are put together, and 3D printers print an object or article in three-dimensional form from a graphic or computer-made design rather than on paper. It sounds interesting.
SIGNIFICANCE OF 3D PRINTERS
3D printers are extensively used these days in all areas of our society. The use of these printers in industries, education, and even medicine is increasing day by day. The applications of 3D printers include automobiles, jewelry, shoes, toys, furniture, and much more.
With the help of 3D printers, there is an advancement in the treatment of various medical conditions.
So you have made up your mind to buy a 3D printer after discovering the astonishing and breathtaking things it can produce. There is a wide variety of 3D printers in the market today. Each printer has its own design, specifications, and technicalities, which you must know before buying the right 3D printer.
TIPS FOR SELECTING A 3D PRINTER
Now you might be thinking, what features should you look for in a printer? Following are the criteria for selecting a 3D printer:
1. Types of 3D printing technologies
What should you know about 3D printing? To buy a 3D printer, the foremost thing is to see your project’s requirements and realize what you want your printer to make for you. There are many 3D printing technologies available in the market presently. Each technology carries out its specific functions and is used to produce certain types of objects. Similarly, every technology for 3D printing has certain limitations as well. None of them can provide you the full package. So, your purpose can identify which 3D printer is best for you.
The most popular 3D printers are
- Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) 3D printers
- Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) 3D printers
- Stereolithography (SLA) 3D printers
Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) 3D printers
The most commonly used among them is the FDM 3D printer. This printer makes a model by first heating the plastic, and then it is forced out in different layers. This printer is easily accessible and is used widely. It is quite affordable. It is used to create prototypes.
Stereolithography (SLA) 3D printers
SLA 3D printers use UV light to harden the melted plastic. It can produce prints of high quality. However, it is expensive as compared to FDM
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) 3D printers
It is similar to the SLA printer, except that it uses lasers in place of UV light. It has an advantage over other 3d printers in that it can produce metal objects. It is also expensive.
2. Selection of printing material
Every 3D printer requires a specific material for the printing. Selection of material can be made once you realize which material is most acceptable for the finished product. Then you can make the right decision in finding the printer for your object.
For most of the 3D printers, two materials are used
- Poly Lactic Acid (PLA)
- Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS)
Both of them are thermoplastics in nature. They are available in the form of filaments of varying sizes. Most printers use filaments of 1.75 diameters.
By comparing the pros and cons of materials with each other, you get to know which is best for your final product.
Poly Lactic Acid (PLA)
It is obtained from corn starch. It has the advantage that it cools rapidly and it can easily be decomposed. However, it is difficult to handle and has a low melting point. It is used for the printing of basic and uncomplicated things.
Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS)
It is obtained from petroleum. It is popular because of its strength and flexibility characteristics. Its high melting point enhances the durability of products. Its cons are that it releases fumes during printing, and a lot of time is required to cool it.
After knowing the facts mentioned above, you can easily choose the material.
3. Market price
Another point to remember when buying a 3D printer is to have an idea of each 3D printer’s market value. The price of a 3D printer starts from as low as $100, and the cost of professional printers goes even higher than $100,000. For example, 3D Platform Excel is $450,000. So if you are buying it for the first time, it is better to get the cheaper one. It will definitely have a lot of limitations compared to expensive ones. Still, you can use them for practicing and learning to make yourself able to utilize skills on expensive ones.
4. Quality of 3D printer
Quality of 3D printer is an essential criterion for selecting a 3D printer. Specific parameters determine the quality of the printer, but two of them are the most important.
It refers to the degree of precision the printer can produce. The print resolution mainly determines the clarity of detailing’s in the model. It is usually measured in microns. The lesser the value of print resolution, the higher is the quality of the printer.
It refers to the pace at which the printer prints the objects. Of course, the faster the speed of the printer, the more will be its quality.
Now, the question arises how we come to know which printer is of good quality. For this, you can check reviews of different best 3D printers on the internet. Also, you can have a view of the outcomes of the various printers before buying.
Are 3D printers safe to use? Every newbie must take into account the safety of the printer when buying it. Every printer comes with safety guidelines, which must be followed to protect yourself and prevent any disastrous accident.
Deal wisely with Heat
While working with 3D printers, you come in contact with heat and hot materials. Usually, the extrusion nozzle is heated to about 190°C to 260°C to melt the plastic. Such high temperatures can severely burn the user’s skin if he mistakenly touches the nozzle’s tip. Some printers also have heat beds to boost the standard of printing as they help keep the plastic warm, which is ejected from the nozzle, and prevent the process of warping. Heat beds can also cause skin burns and can even catch fire if left unguarded. So it is recommended to wait for 10 minutes after switching it off before touching. It is better to work in an enclosed area rather than an open space.
3D printers consisted of many moving parts, for example, pulleys, carriages, motors, small fans, and many more. The sleeves, fingers, or hair of the operating person may get stuck in these parts during operation and cause injuries. So it is advised to place the 3D printers in an enclosed area with a locking system. The user should also take care to protect his hair and clothes.
After using the printer, the user must switch it off and unplug it to avoid a short-circuit. Over temperature, over-voltage, and overload can be disastrous.
So users should deal with these risks cautiously.
Emission of toxic substances
3D printers emit toxic compounds such as VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) and UFPs (ultrafine particles) if they are not ventilated properly. UFP diameter is less than 100nm. These particles pose severe threats to human health, such as asthma, stroke, or heart disease, leading to death. Sometimes during the printing process, fumes are also emitted. This usually happens when using Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) plastic.
So when buying the printer, it is essential to choose the printer that has exhaust to catch the fumes. Moreover, 3D printers must be placed in a well-ventilated area.
Now it is clear what features you should look for in a printer for safer printing.
6. Where should you get a 3D printer?
This is another important question that usually comes into the mind of beginners before buying the right 3d printer. There are many online websites like Amazon, Aliexpress, and many others. Either you buy it from the market or through online platforms, the following are the tips for selecting a 3D printer which you should keep in mind:
- You should buy a printer from a seller who offers free after-sales services for a particular period and paid services after the due time is over.
- Always buy printers from sellers with a good reputation.
- If you are buying the printer online, check their policies before placing the order. Genuine sellers will provide you the opportunity of replacement if the printer makes any trouble.
- Always check the reviews of registered sellers on online websites not to get cheated.
- Buy a printer that comes with instructions for setting up and safety guidelines. Otherwise, it would be difficult to assemble.
Buying a 3D printer is not an easy decision. But many online communities can assist you in this regard. They can solve all your queries and can explain the working of 3D printers. As a beginner, you must be very careful and look for the necessary information before buying a 3D printer.