The possibilities provided by the 3D printing technology are endless. Now, you can build almost anything you want as long as you have the dimensions. But before you go on adding 3D printers into your chart, it will be wise to have some knowledge about the various types of printers out there. This will help you select the right one for your specific needs.
One of the most important things you have to consider when shopping for 3D printers is the print speed. While the definition of print speed varies with brands, the general definition has to do with the time required to complete a single printing through the z-axis. Others also define it as the time the printer requires to print a complete volume or part of it. You should pick a printer with a greater speed to avoid printing parts queuing up, which can disrupt the efficiency of your model.
3D printing model
There are basically three types of 3D printers including Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), Stereo lithography, and Selective Laser Sintering. FDM makes use of extruding plastic and heating that pieces together layer by layer. Stereo lithography works by means of an ultraviolet beam that solidifies a model placed in a photosensitive liquid. This method makes 3D printing much more realistic and perfectly executed. Selective laser sintering is very much similar to Stereo lithography, only that it makes use of powders and lasers instead of UV light and liquids. The SLS system allows the printing of metal models, something that is not available in other systems.
To build or buy
The good thing about 3D printers is that you can actually build your own. There are many 3D printing online communities out there that can help you with information and details about the processes of building a 3D printer for yourself. You can also get good information from brochures and online websites that sell parts about instructions on how to build the printer yourself. But you should know that this takes time, and if you don’t have the time to sacrifice you should just buy.
There are generally two types of materials used as printing materials in 3D printing including; Poly Lactic Acid (PLA) and Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS). These are thermoplastics that will freeze when cooled and become soft when heated. But they both have their advantages and disadvantages.
PLA is made from corn starch, which makes it biodegradable and very easy to manipulate, especially for beginners. However, it has a low melting point and can become a real headache if you are working with joints.
ABS is a plastic made from petrochemicals, which makes it strong and at the same time flexible. It has a higher melting point, and unlikely to deform during printing. Its disadvantage is that it takes a longer time to cool when compared to PLA, and it produces fumes during printing.
You should also consider price. While hobbyist printers can be obtained for as low as $100, professional printers are available for as high as $2000 dollars or even above. You will also need to know about 3D software and slicing software.