A lof of 3D Printing Center readers are asking us about a piece of advice and consultation about choosing a proper device and possibilites od 3D printing technology. We answer loads of questions and resolve a lof of doubts. 3D printing has a great potentialbut it’s not a technology for everyone! We try to make our readers aware of this fact and to march their needs to their real possibilities. We believe in this technology but we know its weaknesses and limits. That’s why we created a guide for beginners which can help them to find their bearings with the world of 3D printing
Do I need a 3D printer?
At first, you have to realize that the only thing which it’s similar between 3D printer and a normal ink printer it’s their name “a printer”. They are completely different devices having entirely different functions. A traditional printer applies an ink or toner on a sheet of paper, transfering a picture or a document from the screen. The process of printing is simple and not complicated – you have to click on PRINT (or use a keyboard shortcut CTRL + P) and set the basic options (f.e.: number of copies) and print a document.
Printing on 3D printer is much more complex. It consits of applying of layers of materials one by one, until your object is read. You can print in different technologies which differ from each other because of their complexity and price of the devices.
We distinguish 4 types of 3D print:
|3D print from melted plastic z roztopionego plastiku (FDM/FFF) – used in almost every low-budget (cheap) 3D printers and also in expensive, professional devices.|
|3D print from resin z żywicy harden with laser light or projector light (SLA or DLP) – professional, expensive technology of 3D printing, since recently used in low-budget form for office and home use; because of the materal can require additional treatment after printing.|
|3D print from powder (SLS, SLM, DMLS) – professional, expensive technology requiring additional processes of treatment after printing.|
|3D print from paper – professional technology of 3D printing, profesjonalna technologia druku 3D, patented by company M-Cor, consisting of printing of paper sheets, sticking them, cutting a shape in them and pressing into one object; on the one hand it’s the cheapest technology od 3D print, on the other hand machines applying it are one of the most expensive on the market.|
Working with a 3D printer
To create a model in technology of 3D printing, you need first of all a proper project to print, created with a professional program class CAD. After that your project has to be optimalized for 3D print, cut into layers and sent (f.e. in form of a special code: G-Code) to your device. A software of your device is responsible for this process.
You should prepare your 3D printer according to the technology which is udes in your printer – prepare a material and start printing. In each printer the process of printing runs different and requires another procedures. As you can see it’s a complex process, particulary when you compare it with traditional printing.
How to use your 3D printer?
|In reality, you can use it only to print easy items or their parts which can be used to make more complicated models. You can’t print “everything” with it. It can’t print a radio, a smartphone or a hair dryer but you can print its casing or spare parts which aren’t electronics od whole conceptional models.|
|You can print almost unlimited number of easy gadgets, figurines, complicated vases and cups for office supplies or even shoes! Your shoes will have an unique, exclusive shape, however they’ll be printed from normal, industrial plastic.|
Do I really need a 3D printer?
To take full advantage of your 3D printer you should be aware of your needs and expectations. If you are going to buy a 3D printer to your home, you should have a particular aim to do it (f.e. creating of your models to stick or for your RPG games or to construct your own devices like a quadrocopter). In another case, after 2-3 months of fascination with this device you won’t know how to use it further. If you are going to buy a printer to your company, you have to know precisely which technical parameters you except from your models. It concerns not only sizes of your models but also their precision. Anyway, in both cases it should be a rational and well-thought-out decision.
Purhasing a 3D printer
The most important thing by purhasing a 3D printer is to determinate an aim of having it and your budget. Generally speaking you can assume that the higher is the quality of 3d print, the higher is the price of the device and materials. Simple 3D printers which print from plastic costs 350-500 € (in version for self-assembly). Professional 3D printers printing from colorful powder cost several – several dozen thousand €!
Therefore, when you want to print an objects from powder, it’s recommendable to ask for it in any services company.
According to the price you can distinguish 3 groups of 3D printers:
|Low-budget – printing from plastic and its derivated in technology FDM which cost 500-3000 € brutto.|
|Prosumer – printing from plastic, polymers, or resin in technologies: FDM, SLA, DLP, their prices oscillate between dozen thousand €.|
|Big-budget – printing in all of the technologies, their prices oscillate between several dozen to several hunderd thousand €.|
Assembled or to self-assembly?
According to the model you can buy a 3D printer in two variants: assembled printers – ready for use or devices to self-assembly. There’s an elementary difference between these two types in their price. These for self-assembly are much cheaper but… you have to assembly them.
A self-assembly of a 3D printer is not a piece of cake. It equires specific manual skills, experience and knowledge in electronics and mechanics. A person who does it for the first time has to matter with the fact that it lasts minimum 2-3 days.What’s more, a self-assembly and starting of your device is only a beginning… Your 3D printer should be calibrated, you have to download and install a software and… learn how to use it.
The time needed for calibrating and learining how to use your 3D printer can take you several weeks.
Therefore, before you decide to assemlby your printer yourself, you have to think it over. When have you assembledan electronic device recently? Can you use a soldering iron? On internet message boards you can find plenty of questions from people who bought a 3D printer and ask for help with assembly because they’ve stuck in it or they don’t have time to cope with it. A 3D printer is not a toy – it’s a device!
I have a 3D printer and what’s more?
Having a 3D printer is in truth just a beginning of your adventures with the technology of 3D print. Using a 3D printer you can create a lot of interesting and unique items, however it’s challenging and problematic. A key meaning has also choosing of a material which you use in the process of 3D printing.
Low-budget 3D printers printing in technology FDM have been “sentenced” for a very long time only for 3 types of material: ABS and PLA. However, nowadays we can use different materials which develop tpossibilities of our 3D printers like:
- composites of plastic, wood and plaster,
- elastic materials,
- gum-like materials,
- materials which change their colours with temperature,
- conductive materials.
Maybe I will ask professionals?
Low-budget 3D printers are achievable for most of people and companies and make possible to print relatively simple models from plastic (ABS, PLA and others. However, 3D printing offers a wide choice of possibilities – unfortunatelly you have to buy extremely expensive devices for it, in price of a car or even… a flat.
Very othen it’s quicker and cheaper to a service company to print out your object, than buy a printers. These companies have not only proper devices but also the knowledge and experience which guarantees a high quality of services.
Although we don’t handle with commercial 3D printing, we cooperate with plenty of companies which sell services on a very high level. We can advice you (click on KONTAKT).
That’s the end of our guide. I hope that I resolved your doubts and explained how does this fantastic world work. Now I’m ecnouraging you to read our articles. In case of doubt, feel free to ask.