After hearing about the possibilities of 3D printing, you have decided to purchase your first printer. After purchasing it, you can create a whole bunch of unique items - smartphone cases, useful household parts, jewelry, souvenirs, etc.
But don't rush to make plans. The market offers many 3D printers. They are all designed for different purposes and differ in specifications. Plus, there are a few things you need to know before you dive into the world of 3D printing.
3D printing is a fairly broad term. It integrates many of the technologies needed to produce physical objects. Among hobbyist printers, the most popular devices are those using FDM technology.
FDM is an additive process in which a model is created by melting and extruding plastic layer by layer.
The other two types of printing are stereolithography and selective laser sintering . Printers based on them are more expensive and are more often used in industrial production than at home.
Buying ready-made or building your own?
The network is full of instructions for selecting components for a 3D printer and assembling your own from scratch. Assembling your device can be cheaper than buying a finished one. But this activity is not for beginners: you will need knowledge of soldering, physics, programming, not to mention the ability to understand the technical characteristics of components. Don't want to waste time learning all the intricacies? Purchase a pre-assembled printer that comes as a kit.
The final decision depends on whether you want to get deeper into the technology or just want to start printing right away.
A simple hobbyist FDM printer works with PLA and ABS materials. Both are thermoplastics that soften when heated and solidify when cooled. They are sold in the form of threads, wound on spools weighing 1 kg or more. They are also suitable for working with a 3D pen.
Not all printers support both of these materials. There are models that only work with one type of plastic.
PLA is a plastic made from corn starch. It is relatively easy to craft, suitable for making household items and very popular with hobbyists.
ABS is a petroleum-based plastic. It is popular for its strength, easy processing and painting. Remember Lego bricks? They have been manufactured from ABS since 1963. Compared to PLA, this material has a higher melting point, the finished parts are less prone to deformation from high temperatures.
The main thing to remember when printing is that you are working in high temperatures. The extruder, the print bed and the plastic itself can heat up to over 200 degrees. Carelessness during work will result in severe burns. Particular care should be taken when handling printers that do not have a protective enclosure.
The 3D printer should be placed in a well-ventilated area. As already mentioned, molten ABS releases harmful substances. So far, there hasn't been enough research to prove that ABS is bad for health, but that precautions won't hurt.
Often, 3D printer buyers hope to use the device to print household items - dishes, cutlery, etc. While ABS and PLA are safe on their own, some of the additives and colorants they contain may not be compatible with food. The product created with an FDM printer has a layered surface on which bacteria can easily collect. Special treatments can be done to smooth the surface, but it's best not to take risks and not 3D print any kitchen or utensils at all, including pet feeders and aquarium decorations.
Print quality depends on two things - resolution and speed.
Resolution is the level of detail. It is expressed in microns. The lower the resolution, the correspondingly higher the level of detail, and the seams between layers are less noticeable.
Print speed indicates how fast the extruder is moving. The faster the print speed, the faster the model will be ready, but the surface may be uneven. Shaking the printer violently while printing can cause the model to come loose from the stage and move. You can find out the maximum possible print speed without losing quality by thoroughly testing your printer. Well, or by looking at YouTube reviews.
The model for printing can be made by yourself or downloaded from the Internet. For 3D modeling, there are many free and paid programs that are difficult and affordable for beginners. The print-ready file is saved in stl format.
Before printing, the stl file must be run through a slicer. Slicer is a program for slicing an object. It divides the model into layers, defines the initial and final positions of the extruder, specifies which areas of the model should be hollow and which should be filled and with what density.
During the printing process, you will likely face many technical difficulties, for example, poor adhesion of the model to the stage, problems with extrusion, plastic jams, etc. In a large city you can find service for the maintenance, repair and adjustment of printers. But if you live in a small settlement, you will have to deal with many problems yourself. Fear not - you are not alone. Numerous forums and sites where 3D printing enthusiasts communicate will help you find solutions.
The Topic of Article: 8 Things You Should Know Before Buying Your First 3D Printer.