3D printing is a fairly recent and growing industry. According to a recent census, since 2010 the industry has grown at an average of 30% annual growth rate. Which is impressive by any standards. Currently, the majority of 3D printing applications are for personal and/or industrial use. Seeing how interesting this fact was, I began to wonder what separates these different printers. Are there market standards? Does brand matter or play into the price? Is pricing based on components or precision? All these questions ran through my head. I compiled a guide to help you find which printer is right for you. You might ask yourself how do I even start to compare 3D printers? The first question you need to ask yourself is this for industrial or personal use? While personal printers are more affordable for the average person. Industrial printers are very expensive due to the competitive performance quality required by the industry.
Thanks to the Reddit community I was able to ask what were their standards before buying. When it comes to market standards the most important criteria is:
- Ease of use
- Print quality
Here is some of the feedback I received. At all price ranges, there are reliable and unreliable printers. Many cheaper printers such as the Wanhao i3 duplicator are reputed for being relatively reliable whereas other printers which cost 5 times as much such as the Makerbot replicator are far less so. Don’t trust brand names at all for this – the two biggest brands (arguably), Makerbot and Cube Systems both make fairly unreliable printers. The CubeX is particularly horrendous (literally look at the Amazon reviews most people couldn’t even achieve a single print and there is no support). Name brand, genuine components are also definitely a plus. A lot of people shop for printers the way they shop for consumer electronics, that is “most features lowest price = best machine,” but this really isn’t the case. Cheap machines often use poorly manufactured parts, cutting corners wherever possible to keep profit margins high. Steel and aluminum frames become acrylic, precision milled nozzles become drilled welding stock metal, leadscrews become threaded rods, capacitors are underrated, fuses are poorly soldered by hand, the list goes on. It’s important to do your homework on these machines, and it’s also important to not trust product reviews on the website because everyone loves their first printer. No matter what, as long as it turns on and doesn’t catch fire (immediately, fire may come later with cheap printers, I’m dead serious), it’s an amazing machine, and when you have nothing to compare it to, even the worst printer is amazing. source quote: [Reddit]
MatterHackers a leader in desktop 3D printing and software, suggest the anatomy of a 3D printer involves several key components which all printers must have. The printer bed which is the base where the material will be layered on to. It usually has a heated or non-heated surface to allow this process to happen. The filament is another component used by 3D printers with an extruder. The filament is fed into the extruder; heated and pushed through a nozzle to form the desired shape. The extruder contains a cooling fan, nozzle, motor, hobbed gear, heat sink, thermistor and a heating block. The extruder doesn’t have a full range of motion so stepper motors and belts are used to position the nozzle correctly to layer the filament. Other parts you should be aware of are the electrical supply, motherboard, stepper driver and user interface and the SD card slot.