The development of 3D printers have revolutionized so many industries and are fantastic pieces of kit for businesses and individuals. From architects to miniature hobbyists, a 3D printer can provide so many opportunities for design, creativity, and construction. 3D printing has advanced enormously since it was first developed and modern 3D printers are incredibly fast and accurate. There are various sizes of 3D printers for both the home user and for major companies to print on an industrial scale. With so many printers available now, it can be difficult to know what is the best option for you.
To help make it easier to choose the right equipment, here is what you should know about a 3D printer before getting one.
1. 3D Printers Have Different Features and Capabilities
There are two main types of 3D printers available, FDM printers and SLA printers, and the first thing you will need to do is choose which type of printer is most suitable for your needs. SLA printers are generally considered to be the most accurate so if you are looking for a 3D printer for home use in miniature making or another hobby, that may be your best choice. They are easy to set up and can enable you to create awesome models in no time at all. FDM printers are also capable of producing extremely detailed models but you need to know a little more about how to configure the printer so this takes some practice and experience.
2. 3D Printers Use Different Filaments
As well as there being different types of 3D printer, there are also various filaments which are used. Three of the most used are PLA, PETG, and ABS. There is a hot debate among 3D printing about the best 3D printing filament but there are some qualities that are generally accepted amongst the printing community. PLA is a great filament for detail and is very safe to use but it isn’t heat resistant and is often very brittle. ABS is far less brittle than PLA and is resistant to heat but it releases toxic fumes and is prone to warping during the print process. PETG has all the benefits of ABS without the warping problems or the toxic fumes. Take all of this into consideration and try experimenting with some different filaments before choosing your 3D printer or the filament.
3. Learning How to Use Your Printer Is Key
With any piece of sophisticated equipment, if you don’t know how to use it then you will never unleash its full potential. When it comes to 3D printing, practice and experimentation are so important as each time you attempt a print, you will learn from your previous mistakes. One mistake which many beginners make is to try and rush a print and end up with poor results. When printing bigger models this is not so much of a problem as even with a fast print speed, the large layer will have time to dry. If you plan to use your 3D printer to make miniatures or a similar hobby then you will want a slow print speed. When choosing a 3D printer for home use, check that you can set the print speed as low as 20mm per second so you can get the best results.
4. Layer Height Is All-Important
As well as print speed, another vital factor in your print configuration is layer height. For the most accurate and detailed models, you will need a smaller layer height so if you intend on creating smaller models, make sure this is possible on any printer you are considering. Some cheaper 3D printers can’t be configured exactly as you want to so it is often worth spending a little extra to give yourself more control. The core layers inside any model should start very small and should be increased incrementally.
5.Cooling Times Are Vital
The final thing you need to know about the 3D printing process is the importance of cooling times. Before each layer is added, the previous layer needs time to dry. This can be difficult if you are printing miniatures as there isn’t enough time for layers to dry and also because the nozzle can drip filament. In order to give your models the best chance of drying if you are having issues is to print more than one miniature at a time. This will give the layers of each model time to cool while the nozzle is still active so it isn’t idle and dripping filament.
3D printing is an amazing technology and can be utilized in so many applications. Before you purchase a 3D printer, it is really important that you take all of the above factors into account. Make sure you take your time to learn how to use your new 3D printer and experiment to get the best results.