beanz Magazine

3D Printers

Creative Tools on Flickr

3D printers may be new technology but there are several printers individuals, schools, and businesses might buy.

For a couple reasons, you probably should not buy a 3D printer for your home unless you have the extra money and want to play. 3D printing technology is still evolving. People bought the first electronic calculators in the 1970s but paying hundreds of dollars to add, subtract, multiply, and divide numbers did not make sense for most people. Today most phones have a calculator app which does far more. The evolution of 3D printers works the same way. Even better, there are printing services where you can take your digital files and print on the latest printers.

What to Look For

Some things to consider when looking to buy a 3D printer:

  • What materials does the printer use? The more expensive a printer, the more likely print materials will be more than plastic. Be sure to check exactly which materials the printer can print with, as well as the cost for materials.
  • Be sure the print field or volume — the maximum height, width, and depth you can print — is big enough for what you want to print.
  • Research the cost of commonly replaced parts, for example, the extruder and base plate. These may clog or break with heavy use.
  • Check the layer resolution, the height of each layer deposited to build your models. The smaller the layer resolution the more precise the result and longer it takes to print. A range of layer resolutions offers more flexibility.
  • Software used to control the printer should be integrated, not require you to find, download, then configure software.

 

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