In less than a generation, 3D printing has gone from looking like it just came from the best science fiction novels to a technology increasingly more popular and affordable. A lot of people are now investing in getting their own 3D printers, and the trend is expected to keep growing.
3D printers are, indeed, almost everywhere. They’re used by scientists, engineers, and artists who need them for their projects. They’re also more often seen in ordinary homes, where people use them to make DIYs and print gadgets or toys.
Despite their popularity, 3D printers can look very complicated at a first glance, to the point in which picking one to get started sounds like a daunting task. There are so many 3D printers on the market, where are you supposed to get started?
That’s why we decided to compile this guide. We want to help you decide on which 3D printer to get, as well as share what you should look for in a 3D printer that will help you get the job done.
Do You Need to Buy a 3D Printer?
First of all, think about how you are going to be using this printer. You might have seen a couple of videos about 3D printers and how impressive they are. But, is this a reason good enough to buy a printer? Are you going to really use it or will it quickly end up in the storage room?
There’s no problem with buying a 3D printer to try out and experiment with this new technology. Many 3D printers can cost much less than a smartphone. However, to get the best bang for your buck make sure that you have a list of 3D projects you want to work on.
For how much we love 3D printers, we also need to admit that using 3D printing is not as easy as with other DIYs. It does have a bit of a learning curve, and you will need to spend some time working on it to be able to get the hang of things.
But, don’t worry, practice makes perfect.
What Types of 3D Printers Are Available On the Market?
There are at least 10 types of 3D printing technologies. Here’s the complete list:
- Stereolithography (SLA)
- Digital Light Processing (DLP)
- Fused deposition modeling (FDM)
- Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
- Selective laser melting (SLM)
- Electronic Beam Melting (EBM)
- Laminated object manufacturing (LOM)
- Metal Binder Jetting (MJ)
- Sand Binder Jetting (BJ)
- Drop on Demand
Now you might be wondering how the hell are you supposed to pick one among the 10 we just mentioned? Luckily for you, most of these technologies are not suitable for home use and the only two affordable options are FDM and SLA. This is why we will only talk to you about these two technologies that you can use at home for your 3D projects.
- Fused Deposition Melting (FDM) Printers
FDM printers are the most commonly used printers at home.
They are not only the most affordable and cost-effective. They can also produce parts rapidly and reliably. Not to mention that on the market you can find a huge variety of FDM printers with a price range from a couple of hundred dollars to thousands. Add to this the fact that the FDM technology keeps improving, with new models being released at a fast speed.
How Do FDM Printers Work?
The process of printing with a FDM printer starts with heating to then move to the extrusion of a molten plastic filament. After this step, the build plate lowers the object to add extra layers on top of it. If you want to print objects that have overhangs, you will need to support them until the printing process is over.
- Stereolithography (SLA) Printers
SLA printers are also known as “resin printers”, and they are suitable for home users as well.
Their printing process is more complicated than the one of FDM printers. However, they produce more detailed objects with a smoother finish. It’s no wonder that SLA printers are generally more expensive than FDM printers.
How Do SLA Printers Work?
The printing process with SLA printers starts with liquid plastic. In other words, a layer of photosensitive resin is exposed to a UV laser bean, which makes it harden.
The laser then gives the object the desired pattern. Just like FDM, even with SLA printers one layer is added on top of the previous one once the object hardens. Even in this case, you’ll need to use supporting structures until the printing project is over.
After the object has been printed, it should be rinsed with a solvent or even baked in a UV oven.
SLA vs FDM: Which One is Better for You?
You might be struggling to decide which type of 3D printer to get. So, let us help you make up your mind. Start by thinking about the cost of the printer and the quality you need.
FDM printers are perfect if you are on a tight budget and don’t need a lot of details with your prints. On the other hand, if you need a printer that will allow you to get high precision – for example, if you need to print cosmetics or jewelry -, then you should go for an SLA printer.
How to Choose a 3D Printer That Meets Your Expectations?
Well, it all starts with deciding what you want from your printer. The most expensive printers aren’t necessarily the best ones either.
Not to mention that certain printers might be intended for a different print type than what you are aiming to print. Also, the cost of the printer isn’t all only about buying the printer itself. Your budget should also include the costs for the materials a printer needs to operate.
Think about the size of your prints and check if the printer you have your eyes on has the right resolution for the type of print you’re looking for. Common truth is that the smaller the resolution of a printer is, the better.
Another aspect to consider is the speed of the printer. Don’t make the mistake to think that the faster the printer is, the better. In fact, if the printing speed is too fast, this can lower the quality of the output. While you wouldn’t want your project to take forever to be ready, rushing things won’t also do you any good.
The best compromise is a 3D printer that can produce an impressive object within an appropriate time. You’ll then be able to get the best of both worlds.
Where Can You Buy a 3D Printer?
Nowadays 3D printers are easily accessible on most online stores. However, if you are looking for quality on a budget, Teknistore is the best place to shop for 3D printers. We have a wide collection for all budgets and printing needs.
To make your life easier, we’ve listed here below our top 5 3D printers:
- Creality 3D® Ender-3 Pro V-slot Prusa I3 DIY 3D Printer
- Geeetech® A20M Mix-color 3D Printer
- Creality 3D® Ender-3 V2 Upgraded DIY 3D Printer
- Anet® A6 3D Printer DIY Kit
- Dotbit Cloned Prusa I3 MK3 Bear Full Kit 3D Printer
We hope this guide was useful! Stay tuned for more similar guides coming up soon and don’t forget to like our Facebook page.