With the advent of 3D printers, humans now have the ability to create custom objects of virtually any design. A 3D printer uses a digital file and layer by layer build the object on a base until it is complete. Some of the objects that can be created with 3D printers include eyeglasses, medical implants, car parts, and even food. Really, the possibilities are endless.
Prices range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars depending on functionality. And with so many options available, it can be confounding which particular make or model to buy.
First, answer these questions so you’ll get a better idea of what kind of 3D printer you should get.
- What are you printing?
- What safety features do you need?
- What level of quality are will be happy with?
- Does the brand I’m looking at offer great support?
- What’s your budget?
Answering these questions will give you a better idea of what kind of 3D printer would be best for you.
So, here are the main features to look for when buying a 3D printer: Price, Filament Type & Size Compatibility, Layer Resolution, Speed & Material Support/Printing, Print Bed, Supported File Types, SD Card Support, Networking, Touchscreen or Not, Ease of Use & User-friendliness.
This is the quality of the printing in a 3D printer. The better the quality is normally more expensive and takes longer to print. That being said most printers will have a common printing speed of 40 to 100 mm/s.
Price: This is obviously the most important factor considering 3D printers have a somewhat high price point. There are different variations between what you can get in a 3D printer and they all vary depending on their use.
Filament Type & Size Compatibility
There are two main types of filament. The first one is the ABS which is more flexible and durable than PLA. However, it melts at a higher temperature so you need to make sure your 3D printer has a high enough heat resistance to use this kind of filament. The other type of filament is PLA, which is made out of organic materials such as cornstarch or sugarcane. It doesn’t need a lot of heat to melt and is biodegradable.
This number represents the number of layers that can be printed in a 3D printer per one inch. In general, the higher this number is, therefore, more expensive. For example, if there are 200-300 layers then it’s considered low, but if there are 800-1000 layers then it’s considered high.
Speed & Material Support/Printing
The speed of printing also depends on the kind of printer you have. You’ll want one where you can set the speed that best suits your needs while being able to print different materials without any problems. 3D printers that are able to print different materials are common in the industry nowadays.
The build plate of a 3D printer is also known as the print bed. It’s where your creations start taking shape. Some printers have heated print beds which allows for better adhesion and enables using other kinds of materials than PLA or ABS which don’t have to be heated.
Supported File Types
This is the software you’ll need to use for your 3D printer since some don’t come with their own proprietary software, so you’ll have to download it separately.
SD Card Support
For those who are less tech-savvy, this can be an easy way of controlling your printer without having to use a computer connection.
For those who prefer to control their 3D printer using a PC and don’t want to be tethered through a USB cable, this option allows the user to connect via the wireless network or even remotely if there is support for it.
Touchscreen or Not
Some printers come with touchscreens that can be more user-friendly. However, some printers come with buttons but no screens so you’ll need to connect via USB or use the software included with your 3D printer to control it.
Ease of Use & User-friendliness
Is the setup easy? Does the printer have simple instructions for first-time users? Is the printing process easy?
When looking to buy a 3D printer, there are many factors you need to consider. The three most important ones are price, filament type & size compatibility, and layer resolution. Other features to look for include printing speed & material support/printing, print bed, supported file types, SD card support, networking options, touchscreen or not, and ease of use and user-friendliness. It’s important to keep in mind that the better the quality of the printer is, the more expensive it will be. So make sure you know what your needs and budget are before making a purchase.