- This is a short guide to buying your first 3D printer intended to help you navigate through the myriads of different options available on the 3D printing market.
- Because there is no such thing as a 3D printer that's good at everything, you'll learn how to choose the right 3D printing technology for your purpose.
- The process of choosing the best possible brand and model of the 3D printer is also throughly covered.
3D printing saves money, cuts lead times, and grants creative freedom. But when you finally get sold on the idea and go shopping for your first 3D printer, you are instantly confronted with myriads of different manufacturers, technologies, and devices at all possible price points. Which one should you choose? We’re here to help you out. Here are five most important things to consider when buying a new 3D printer.
What You Want to Print
That may sound pretty obvious, but defining your needs clearly does wonders in narrowing down the search. If you need to print relatively simple things that do not need to endure extreme loads or survive in really tough conditions, you’d probably be best served by an extrusion-based, LPD 3D printer.
If you need very small yet precise parts, it’s best to go for a resin UV LCD machine. The workspace is usually smaller than what you find in the LPD 3D printers, and the process is a bit more difficult to handle, but the precision is way better. With a UV LCD 3D printer, you can expect details recreated with the accuracy down to roughly 50 microns which is barely discernibly by the naked human eye.
So, the key takeaways are these:
- If you want budget-friendly workhorse of a 3D printer- go for an LPD or LPD Plus machine
- If you want utmost precision and don’t need that much workspace – pick a UV LCD 3D printer.
When you already know what you want to print and what is the best 3D printing technology for your purpose, you need to choose the right 3D printer.
Here, it’s best to go for a machine made by a well-established manufacturer. Warranty claim rates at market leaders like Zortrax are slightly lower than what is considered an industry standard for laptops or smartphones. So getting one of their products is a rather safe bet.
Sure, there are many brands that seemingly offer the same stuff for a little less money, but the very first breakdown and resulting delays are very likely to set you back way more than what you have saved by going for a lower sticker price.
Customer support and service
Yes, 3D printers, like everything else, do occasionally fail. And when this happens, it’s good to have someone to pick up your phone, talk to you in your language and sort your problem out quickly. So, look for brands that have official partners and service centers in your country.
Zortrax, being a global manufacturer, has partners in over 150 countries. They will serve you with advice and accept your warranty claim if necessary. All this huge network is there to reduce your idle time to absolute minimum when something goes wrong. Paying a visit to your local dealer is way less of a fuss than sending your machine overseas, and takes less time too.
Complete 3D printing ecosystem
3D printer is just a part of the 3D printing process. On its own, it can do nothing. You need a slicing software that would convert .stl files you exported from your CAD or 3D modeling software into precise instructions for a 3D printer to fabricate it properly. You need printing materials and sometimes post-processing devices to achieve the results you seek. Needless to say, it’s best when all those things work well together.
So, look for such brands that offer a complete printing ecosystem along with software, materials, and post-processing equipment. This way, you’ll get gear that’s been designed, from the ground up, to work and complement each other. Sure, you can use third-party materials and manually punch all the settings into random open-source software, hoping that your printer will handle it all somehow. But if you really mean business, go for tried and true solutions.
Availability of Spare Parts
3D printers work by processing molten plastics or solidifying polymer resins. This means, they have parts that are consumables by design like nozzles which need to be replaced after some specified period. It’s good when such parts are easily available. Preferably, at local dealers or through online stores.
When you go for an established, global brand like Zortrax, you can rest assured that you won’t get left stranded because the spares you need are no longer in production. Serious manufacturers support their products for a long, long time. That’s why, you can be certain that your 3D printer, if maintained properly, will serve you well for many years.
Here you can find more info about a full range of reliable Zortrax 3D printers: https://zortrax.com/3d-printers/