Are you in the market to buy a new 3D printer? Whether it’s for your business or just personal use, it can be confusing enough to choose the perfect one needed with so many available and not knowing where to begin. 3D printing is still very new and is only just moving into the mainstream. So, if you’re unsure where to start, here’s some clever advice to consider, from German online electronics retailer, reichelt.co.uk.
- 3D Printing Technology
The first thing to understand is the technology used in these devices. Most 3D printers use a process called “Fused Deposition Modelling” (FDM), but is also known as “Plastic Jet Printing” (PJP) or “Fused Filament Fabrication” (FFF). This technique involves layers of a specific material being laid down repeatedly until the object has been created. The cross-section layers are formed by a continuous length of plastic being ejected with a heated nozzle. The plastic then quickly hardens. Other printers use “Stereolithorgahpy” (SLA) where a laser solidifies layers of photosensitive resin. Having a grasp of what processes these devices use is the first step in understanding the product and ultimately, how it will function.
- Printing Material
The next thing to recognise is the printing material itself. It’s common that most printers use a spool of filament in either PLA (polylactic acid) or ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene). These are thermoplastics which can means they can be heated to become flexible and revert to being solid once cooled. ABS material is preferred by professionals as it’s flexible, strong and has a high temperature resistance. Whereas PLA can produce thinner layers, sharper corners and is available in more colours making it preferred by schools and hobbyists. However, there are other materials available:
- HIPS (High Impact Polystyrene)
- Stainless steel
- Printer Attributes
When choosing the right printer for you, consider its attributes. What is its print area? The bigger it is, then the bigger objects can be created. Look at the printing speed as well. The type of material used and the complexity level of the print can affect the printing speed. Also, the layer resolution should be thought about. Some 3D printers allow you to enter the value of the layer resolution, whereas others provide options. This will affect the outcome of the final printed object. Lastly, the extruders of the printer is a key attribute of the device. These allow for the melted printing material to be ejected, and therefore, more than one extruder will allow you to print in different colours and different materials.
Don’t forget about the different features 3D printers offer, which can make the printing experience easy and enjoyable. Some will come with connectivity options to allow for wireless connection or even come with an SD slot. LCD displays on these devices are also available. To have a visual display on these gadgets is always a pleasure to relay information back on its printing progress.
Most of these printers come with its own 3D printing software that can open STL files, which is the standard file format you might use to print a 3D model. With this software you can choose print settings, layer thickness and fill types. However, to design and create your 3D models, you’ll need 3D modelling software. There is a wide range available either for free or which can be bought. It’s with this type of software that the STL files can be produced.
Finally, settling on a preferred 3D printer will largely depend on your budget. They can start from the hundreds of pounds mark, going into the thousands of pounds for the higher-end type of products. It goes without saying that the more expensive the printer, the more features it will have. Essentially, its price will reflect the overall output quality and functionalities of it. Online electronics retailer, reichelt.co.uk, offers a variety of 3D printers to suit hobbyists through to businesses – all at competitive prices.
For a high-quality, affordable and accessible 3D printer, the XYZ Printing da Vinci Junior is perfect for first-time 3D designers and aspiring inventors. For something more advanced, the Ultimaker 2 Extended is a world-class device that delivers and prints complex models with ease.
Newly launched online retailer for industrial and consumer electronics, reichelt.co.uk, offers a range of tools, components, tech accessories and more – save up to 20% on many top brands.