By Sumay McPhail
3D Printers are the new way of doing Additive Manufacturing instead of the regular Subtractive Manufacturing. Additive manufacturing provides many benefits such as being faster, cheaper and easier to customize. If you are interested in this, you can check out my other three articles on Additive Manufacturing. Today we are going to be talking about different 3D Printers you can get that will give the most benefits. More specifically, we will be talking about how 3D Printers are different from each other, what 3D Printers you would use in different scenarios, and how you would go about finding the 3D Printer fit for you.
First off, how do different 3D Printers differ from each other? Different 3D Printers all do basically the same thing, which is additive manufacturing, but each has different addons, strengths and weaknesses. One example is automatic bed leveling. Automatic bed leveling is when the platform that you 3D Print on automatically goes to the correct height without you having to adjust it. Having the correct bed leveling is very important because if it is too high the nozzle will scratch the bed and you also won’t be able to print anything since there is no space for the filament to get through. And if the bed is too low, the filament will just drag out from behind the nozzle and you would just be wasting filament and not printing anything. There are many others factors as well such as the ability to use different colors and types of filament, size restrictions, accuracy, closed vs open structure and other factors.
Check out this video comparing 3D Printers. Simon Sörensen is the creator and he does a great job of discussing the pros/cons of printers available for household plastic filament applications. The video is a bit dated (2018) but its the best I can find to this day (2021) on explaining how printers differ and key considerations before buying. He also does a ton of other videos actually using these printers so you know he knows what he is talking about.
What 3D Printers would you want to use in different scenarios? You have to think about what qualities would work best with your circumstance. If you are trying to mass produce something using 3D Printers, you probably want a durable and big 3D Printer that doesn’t have the most amazing quality but prints fast and reliably. If you only want one 3D Printer and are only going to use it once a month to make something small, you would want something with a small build volume but prints in detail. You probably don’t need to worry as much about it being reliable because it won’t be in constant use and isn’t as important as it would be in a factory. Make sure to look at what each 3D Printer provides for you before choosing the one that you will benefit from the most. You probably don’t want an industrial grade 3D Printer to make buttons.
How would you go about finding a 3D Printer? There are many people who give very useful recommendations on which 3D Printer you would benefit the most from. Simon's YouYube channel named RCLifeOn has a few videos giving useful recommendations on a wide variety of 3D Printers. He recommends the Ender 3, JGaurora A5S, and the TEVO Nereus which are all under 500 dollars. If you are going to be using your 3D Printer a lot and want to invest more money to get a higher quality one, you might want the Orca Cygnas2. There are also some 3D Printers with a paste extruder and laser cutting abilities that you can get as well!
The best way to do your market research is probably to start with Amazon. Just type "3D Printer" into the search bar and search for printers that have at least 4 stars and lots of reviews. That's what I did and that's how I confirmed the value of the Ender 3. As you can see there are many types of Ender 3s but they all have great reviews and are affordable.
For my first 3D Printer I went with the Official Creality Ender 3 3D Printer linked here and shown below. I put it together myself and have had no trouble printing a wide range of plastic objects that I was able to download online or build myself. You should decide what printer works best for you but in my opinion its hard to go wrong with this printer for new additive manufacturing enthusiasts.
Today we talked about the differences in different 3D Printers, what 3D Printer to use in different scenarios and how to go about finding the best 3D Printer for you. Buying a 3D Printer is one of the best ways to get started making things. Sometimes you may have an idea of something you want to make, but don’t have the parts. With a 3D Printer you can print the parts! If you are nervous about designing your own prints, you can find many designs on a website called thingiverse where you can download many designs.
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