3D Printer Buying Guide - Complete Edition
How many of you here have been searching for the right 3D Printer? Confused with what features you should look out for ? Here is a technical Best 3D Printer Buying Guide for beginners as well as intermediates. We have mentioned few factors to consider while purchasing your next 3D Printer or even spares for your 3D Printer. For those in the market of buying a new 3D printer, this article is exactly for you.
1.High Nozzle Temperature
2. Do I Need A HeatBed?
3. 3D Printer Mechanisms
- Cartesian Mechanism 3D Printers
- Delta Mechanism 3D Printers
4. Bed Moving or Not ?
Certain Cartesian 3D Printers have a fixed Bed while the others have a moving bed. Almost 80% of the Cartesian machines have a moving bed while the remaining 20% have a fixed bed. These are easy to calibrate, and have a nominal installation time.
Using a delta 3D Printer may be slightly difficult for people trying to build it from scratch as it requires lot of initial setup time and calibration time. But once it is setup it is more of a plug and play machine that requires minimal installation time. Hence Clients prefer these machines.
As mentioned in the previous points the Bed stability is very important factor, while selecting 3D Printers. As per a survey which includes users using both the delta mechanism 3D Printers as well as the Cartesian 3D Printing Machines – Almost 85 % Users prefer using Delta 3D Printers. And I Quote “Once a Delta User, Always a Delta Lover”.
5. Auto Bed Leveling
This Feature is used to notify the machine that the bed may be slightly tilted and this needs to be rectified for a smooth first layer this also helps to stop the nozzle from hitting the build plate.
For Cartesian 3D printers auto bed leveling is a must as the frequency of calibration is on the higher side. On the other hand the Delta Mechanism 3D Printing Machines require less frequent calibration hence it is not a must, but something that may be good to have.
6. Larger the Build Volume, the Better
7. Layer Resolution – Smaller the better ?
Just as the chassis of the car defines the stability and the maneuverability of a car similarly the chassis defines the stability of the machine. Various machines use wood or acrylic frames to setup the integral structure of the machine which is slightly delicate and may show ringing in 3D Printed Parts. An all metal Chassis absorbs the vibrations and remains stable with sudden jerks of the machine movement giving high quality finished parts.
9. Printing Speed
There are two speeds which all manufacturers mention in their catalogs one I the movement speed and the other is the printing speed, so what is the actual difference between both?
Well it’s simple, the movement speed is basically the maximum speed that the nozzle can achieve while hopping from point A to point B. This is generally achieved when the nozzle hops from point A to Point B without spilling a drop of molten plastic material during retraction.
Printing Speed on the other hand is basically the rate at which the nozzle is moving while depositing material. Here the raw material is more to be blamed for printing speed as it requires a minimum time gap to cool before the next layer is being deposited. Faster the cooling the faster the part can be manufactured.
10. Are All Metal HotEnd Worth it ?
11. Carriage Movement Mechanism
12. Software Compatibility
Certain machines use dedicated slicing software for printing. Here the options for printing are simple and less complicated but the machine is limited to the option of materials that can be printed.
But for those who love experimenting this is a drawback as few machines give you the option of tweaking the settings a bit thus giving you faster prints as well as high finished parts. Software’s such as Simplify3d, Cura, Slic3r etc provide more option to end user to fine tuning the machine and also print a variety of materials from various manufacturers.
13. Material Compatibility
14. Enclosed Chamber
For printing materials like ULTEM 9085, ABS, PC etc, an enclosed chamber is a must to avoid layer separation. The heat generated from the heatbed maintains the temperature inside the machine and certain machines have dedicated heaters to maintain the temperature within the printing environment.
15. Power Fail Safe feature
This feature is for those where power outage is a common issue. The machine basically store the positional co-ordinates after the power fails and can continue printing after the power comes back.
This is a feature that can be compensated with the use of inverters or UPS that can continue printing for hours based on the rating of the UPS or Inverter.
16. Extruder Mechanism
- Bowden Extruder
- Direct Drive
17. Filament Runout Sensor
The filament runout sensor is also something that you might want to look out for. This basically stops the print and gets back to the home position when it senses that the material is going to run out.
All you have to do is replace the filament spool and resume the print and you are good to go. This feature is not a must but is complimentary to have.
18. Spare Part Availability
This is one more important factor that people tend to avoid. They try to buy either kits or even high end machines that have service and spare part availability. This brings in huge downtime periods which may affect your business.
Trying buying machines from local vendors as they will obviously be within your vicinity and easy to catch hold of any issue. Secondly you will get faster after sales services and support.
Few of the 3D Printer Manufacturers build high end machines which require expensive filaments manufactured by them itself. This will make it an expensive process as you will be limited to buying their own spools regularly at high prices and secondly the availability issue as most of these high end machines and filaments would be imported.
Please do not feel shy of asking the manufacturers the Cost Price of Printing in terms of price per gram of printing. This will give you a basic idea of how much it would cost you in the long run.
Well if you plan on having one or Two machines than this feature is not required but If you plan on making a farm, you will realize how handy it is to have this feature.
You will save on time searching the files from the folders and also Manage a whole lot more machines using just a single PC to access them.
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