New technology .. tough choice!
As 3D Printing is a new technology making that choice of whether to build or buy a 3D Printer is much harder than purchasing other everyday off-the-shelf consumer products.
Here we hope to enlighten you on a few things to consider before purchasing or attempting to build your very own 3D printer.
In our experience building your own 3D Printer from scratch would definitely not be a project for those with no mechanical, electronics or software experience.
However making a 3D printer from a kit is somewhat less daunting especially for the hobbyist, creative or DIYer especially if that kit provides clear instructions, good support and is easy to assemble and set up. A 3D printer kit comes with all its mechanics, electronics and software ready to be assembled and setup in a few simple stages.
So what are the main differences?
- More costly to buy and repair
- In most cases works out of the box
- Occasionally comes with its own specific print materials & software
- Been tested and more likely to work first time
- Already optimised for best print quality for the materials it uses
- Extensibility is limited i.e. does what it says on the box and nothing more
DIY / Build your own
- More cost effective to buy and obtain replacement parts
- Needs some skill in building and maintaining it
- Have a wider choice of print materials & software i.e. can be customised
- More effort involved in getting it to work right at the initial setup stage
- Getting a good print quality may involve more effort to get it optimised to print different materials
- Extensible – can be further developed and customised to add new features and functionality
If it is a plug and play experience your after, an easy life and you have money to spend then this may be the best option for you.
However at T3DT we recognised some time ago that you could get just as good a 3D printer by making our own at a fraction of the price albeit with some effort provided you have the right expertise and knowledge. Which is why we have developed our product range of kits & ready built systems to suit those that are more economically minded but still want the results of a good quality 3D printer.
What are the things I need to consider when choosing a 3D printer?
- What to print? Firstly decide what you want to print and ensure the printer you want to buy prints the materials you will need to use
- What quality? Next to consider is the quality of the print you want to achieve. Different printers print at different resolutions and with different materials which will affect the final print quality. For example do you need a high resolution print or will a lower resolution be sufficient for your needs or do you need flexibility when it comes to quality? For really complex high resolution printing you may also need to consider obtaining a printer that provides the ability to print support material. For this kind of printer you will also need to factor in the cost of obtaining the solution to dissolve the support material and the additional time it will take to finish an end product.
- What materials? Do you need to print in more than one colour or material? If so then consider a printer that supports multiple extruders or multiple printing materials. In most cases a single extruder printing just one material at a time is sufficient.
- Have you got space for your 3D Printer? A 3D Printer once setup should ideally not be moved about too frequently and should be protected from cold draughts, inappropriate exposure to the elements and be kept out of reach of children (due to hot parts). Ensure you purchase a 3D printer that suits your environment.
- Do you need carefree maintenance and support? If 3D printing is a total mystery to you then this should also be a key factor in deciding the right choice for you. Check the manufacturer provides good customer support and aftercare for when things go wrong.
- Customisable? At the outset it maybe that all you want is a 3D Printer however take time out to think ahead a bit before making your choice.
- Easy to use or build? Reliable? This factor will depend on your experience and knowledge of 3D printing. To determine if a 3D printer or 3D printer kit is right for you check 3D printing forums and customer reviews about the printer before buying it. This is usually a good indication as to the ease of use and reliability of the printer and the manufacturer.