Shopping For Your First 3D Printer? Here Are Some Tips

You can print anything you want and they will be the real object, and they will work. If you are shopping for a 3D printer that can print things like toys, replacement parts, jewelry and anything that you can imagine for home use; the list is endless. But don’t expect 3D printers for the home that can print human organs; you also get a 3D printer that prints food, but not available in India.

Is 3D printing easy? Yes, and no. No, because such printers are not like 2D printers (laser/inkjet); you put paper inside; give a print command and print copy is ready to use.

3D printers are a bit different and come in variety; so it’s important to understand what you are buying and what objects you want to print.

How do 3D printers work?

Most printers that you will be buying use Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) which is an additive manufacturing technology commonly used for modeling, prototyping, and production applications. Other technologies used are Stereolithography and Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), but we will not talk about it as these are currently used for commercial/industrial use.

Which 3D Printer to Buy?

If you are buying it for the first time and don’t have much knowledge about how this technology works; then make sure you buy something that comes with more features and allows auto-configuration. If you are starting a business and will be providing some on-demand services to customers then you need to look at speed and spend; and how you will get ROI (Return on Investment).

Based on what objects you will be printing make sure you double-check that the printer you are buying provide sufficient:

  • Quality and strength of the printed object
  • Size
  • Smoothness
  • Printer speed

Which Raw Material (Filament) To Use for 3D Printer?

  • Either Poly Lactic Acid (PLA) (more glossy than ABS but smells )
  • Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS)

Cost: around $30 per kg.

Depending on melting temperature, printing environment, the flexibility of finished print, colors, and compatibility with 3D printer your filament type will vary.

These days you also get PLA — Wood, PLA — Bamboo, PLA — Bronze variants. If you need more information Filament Guide has more to offer

What Are The Other Feature of 3D Printers?

  • Cloud/App enabled
  • Wifi/USB/Ethernet connectivity
  • On-board User Interface
  • Multi-part build capability

Which 3D Printing Software to Use?

3D software: Many free and paid software are available. There will be some learning curve if you have never used design software or similar 3D tools, but one you start you will find the possibilities are limitless

3D modeling: Do it yourself or download from public libraries available in STL file format (STereoLithography)

All3DP has more information on 3D printing tools

How Safe Are 3D Printers?

Heat and fumes could be very common if your printer has no enclosure around print area.

If you are printing for hours and hours every day and don’t have enough room and worried about bad quality air then you should use some duct mechanism (flexible hose) to throw out that bad air.

Don’t forget that PLA is safer than ABS

If some parts of your 3D printer say High Voltage or Hot Surface. You know that you don’t have to touch.

If you are somewhere in India where power stability is questionable make sure you have a power inverter that can handle 3D printer power requirements.

Can I print anything with my 3D Printer?

Well, use your common sense. You think you can print Gucci handbag design; yes you can, but you might infringe intellectual property rights.

Your 3D printer doesn’t give you rights to play with intellectual property owned by somebody else, and you can’t print objects like guns and drugs that subject to a strict certification under applicable laws. Similarly, you can use CAD/STL files that are available publically but make sure you don’t break any law by reproducing/sharing/selling product design based on those.

Do let me know about your 3D printer shopping experiences.