Nowadays you will find 3D printers for less than 400 euros, cheaper than an iPhone! You have probably heard of 3D printers in the news and probably wants one also after seeing one in action, but the question is, do you need 3D printer at the present time and what are the costs of the acquisition?
Are there many manufacturers in the market, or is it still a niche product? In the following article, we will go through those questions.
3D printing for home use
Compared too few years back 3D printer are today more established in the commercial retail market thanks to improvement and breakthrough in the technology. With improvement comes better machines and so also a growing user base. The 3D printer have gone from a very special niche product to become more mainstream niche product.
3D printers can be divided in desktop 3D printers for home use and industrial 3D printers. The later have been used for years in business already for different fields. For example spare parts production, for medical production use, replicating expensive artifacts, for the automobile industry, aircraft industry, jewelry industry as well as the extensive market for prototyping. Companies see this great potential and are sure that 3D printers are the future and indeed a very important tool.
Industrial 3D printers are very expensive and can cost up to 500 000 EUR +.
For home desktop 3D printers the potential are particularly suitable for manufacturing of custom products in small scale. As of today many uses home desktop 3D printers for experiment, education, fun, spare parts making and for prototyping. This said, 3D printer for home are today very functional but are still very young. In fact the technology can be compared to where PC were 15-20 years ago which means there still room for lots of improvements.
A few years back it was not easy to 3D print an object as it required skilled technical person. This have however changed as competition have driven the market to become more adaptive to non-technical. For those that do not have much technical skills can today easily download many free or paid design on the internet and with some easy setup get the printer to start producing the assigned design with just some mouse click- 3d printers have today been engineered to be easy to use.
If you do not have any design you can always replicate the things you want with a 3D scanner, which scans any object and make it to a 3D file which then can be 3D printed.
Some example of things that you can 3D print with home desktop 3D printers: spare parts, toys figure, funny objects or your own design. As home desktop 3D printers mostly is using plastic as base material this will also be your preferred material.
If any of the thing mentioned above fits you, then you should not hesitate to buy a 3D printer, it is fun and easy to use. If you are a maker, like to build things or interesting in technology this is a must for you.
How do I find the right 3D printer?
Basically any 3D printer works on the same principle: solid objects are formed from a digital file. Object is created by laying down successive layers on layers of material until the entire object is created.
While home desktop 3D printers mostly use plastic or plastic synthetic as material, professional 3D printers can use almost all kind of material to produce a part- plastic, metal, ceramic, plaster, rubber and so on.
For private use the “Fused Deposition Modeling” (FDM / FFF)” 3D printer technology is the one you should look for. This technology uses plastic filament as material where the plastic is heated and deposited in layers from a print head nozzle.
Manufacturer of such 3D printers are not few today which have result to lots of brand to choose from. Some of the FDM 3D printer comes in kits where it needs to be assembled according to the “Lego principle” before it can be used. Then you can also get those that comes assembled and ready from the box-ready to be used anytime.
Since 2015, the FDM 3D printers are very affordable, 3D printers can be purchased already from 400-500 euros. For those that like to build, assemble and have some technical skill should considering DIY 3D printer kit as it is much cheaper. It takes around 1-2 day to build a FDM 3D printer from a kit.
For those that prefer a normal fully assembled plug and play printer the price can go up to 2000 USD, but then again it depends on your requirement and the quality you want. You can find fully assembled plug and play 3D printers for almost the same price as a DIY Kit, but normally those 3D printers have a small print size.
As for today, the three most famous FDM 3D printers are: Ultimaker, XYZprinting and MakerBot. But then again, there are 20+ more brands that deserve to be looked at before you make your purchase.
What are filaments for FDM 3D printer?
When you buy a FDM 3D printer, manufacturers usually includes a software (or it can be downloaded from the internet) and all that remains is the filament – the so called material, or “ink”.
Which filament material and size you need depends on the application and if the 3D printer is compatible to print that material or size-usually this information can be found out in the manual of the printer. There are many different materials you can choose from, for example, ABS, PLA, PETG, PP, Rubber, Woodfill etc. and sizes normally consist of 1.75 and 3.00 mm.
The most common option of filament material are PLA and almost all printers are compatible with it. PLA is a plastic made out of corn starch and can be easily processed and purchased in different colors.
Filament normally comes in 1 KG net weight and cost around 30-40 EUR each. You can print out around 365 full size chess pieces with a 1 KG of filament.
This article is based on and improved from 3druck.com
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