Written by Tim

Advice on 3D printers

You're thinking about buying a 3D printer, but don't you know exactly which 3D printer is suitable for you? If so, you've come to the right place. Answering the following questions makes choosing the right 3D printer a piece of cake.

1. Ready-to-use

3D printers can be roughly divided into 2 categories: *Self-build printers *Ready-to-use 3D printers.

Ready-to-use 3D printers have a number of advantages:

  • Get started immediately with printing
  • Doesn't require any effort or time
  • The printer looks finished
  • Less maintenance

2. Do you want to create or download designs yourself?

3D printing

With a 3D printer, you can't print every image. You need a special '3D' file, usually a .stl (stereolithography) file. Manufacturers often supply the printer with their own software. This software can be aimed at making printing as simple as possible, or at giving the user maximum control of designing and printing. You can also use a 3D scanner to create designs.

3. What do you want to print in 3D?

Depending on the material chosen, the number of printheads, the print resolution and the print size, you can print different objects. Most 3D printers can handle different print materials. These materials can have different properties such as: soluble in water (PVA), flexible (nylon), very strong (ABS).

Print heads

The number of printheads (extruders) determines how many different colors or materials you can print at the same time. The more printheads, the greater the possibilities. The simultaneous printing of different materials has the added advantage that you can print complex objects: for example, you can print part of your design in ABS and a part in PVA, so that part of the object dissolves in water. This has the advantage that you can let the material that supports the print 'disappear'.

Number of printheads

1 printhead

With a 3D printer with 1 printhead, you can make objects in 1 color and 1 type of filament. This type of printer is suitable for making relatively simple objects that are in only 1 color.

2 printheads

With a 3D printer with 2 printheads, you can create more complex objects because you can print 2 colors filament and even 2 different types of filaments at the same time.

Print resolution

3D printer resolution

3D printers have different print resolutions. With a 3D printer with a print resolution of 200 microns or less, you can print with a minimum accuracy of 0.2 millimeters. The more detailed the printed object must be, the higher the print resolution must be. In comparison: a human hair has an average thickness of 150 microns.

Print size

Every 3D printer has a different maximum print size. Some manufacturers have an XL printer in their assortment with which you can print larger objects. These are usually more expensive than the printers with a smaller print volume. Do you want to use the 3D printer to create small models, or do you also want to print larger objects? Pay attention to the maximum print size of the 3D printer.

4. How do you want to connect and use the 3D printer?

Use 3D printer

Most 3D printers need to be connected to a PC or laptop via USB to be able to print. However, some 3D printers can also be operated with your smartphone and tablet. These 3D printers with WiFi can be placed anywhere in your house, and are easy to share with other users. Useful when you want to use the printer with multiple people.

Speed

If you want to share the 3D printer with multiple people, or if you just want to make a lot of prints, it's wise to check the speed (extrusion speed) of the printer. Printing a design will easily take a few hours. In addition, the higher the resolution, the more time the printer usually needs for the prints. Some 3D printers are specially designed to speed up the printing process.

5. What else should you pay attention to?

Most 3D printers work via Fused Filament Fabrication. The disadvantage of this technique is that material expands when it cools down, which may result in or even printing errors. This problem can be solved in two ways.

  • A 3D printer with a closed casing keeps the temperature around the print stable, so that the designs cool evenly. This helps prevent printing errors.

  • Another way to keep the temperature of the print as stable as possible is to use a heat bed. A heat bed ensures that the print does not cool too quickly. Nowadays, most 3D printers have such a heat bed.

Universal or cartridge system

3D printer filament

Some manufacturers use filament systems of their own design. These can be compared to ink cartridges of 'normal' printers, and ensure consistent quality. In this case, you are limited to use filaments of the manufacturer. These 'cartridges' are often relatively pricey. Other 3D printers work with 'universal' rolls of filament. This means that you can easily buy filament from other parties. However, the quality of the filament can be different, which may cause printing errors. The advantage is that you have more choice, so you'll often spend less.

6. How does a 3D printer work?

How does a 3D printer work exactly and what does a 3D print ultimately look like? How difficult is it to control the printer and can I get started quickly? We answer these and other questions in a review by our product expert.

7. Questions?

Do you have additional questions or would you like more advice about 3D printers? Our customer service is available 7 days a week.

Tim
Article by:
Tim 3D Printer Expert.

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