3D Printer Buying Guide
What is a 3D Printer?
If none of the above printers seem to have just what it is that you’re looking for, you may find it beneficial to do some shopping on your own. After all, this is a flourishing technology, one which sees new installments and advancements on what almost seems like a weekly basis. However, despite the technology constantly changing, there are a few buying strategies which always stay the same. Keep the following considerations in mind when shopping for your next 3D printer to ensure you get the best possible product for your needs.
How much printing speed do you need?
In terms of how your printer functions, a higher printing speed is always a good thing. As such, it can be tempting to opt for a printer which preforms exceptionally well in this regard. However, if a high printing speed didn’t cost any extra money, no printers would have a low printing speed. You can be sure that a higher speed translates to a higher price tag. As such, it’s important to think about just what it is you’ll be using your printer for. If you plan on taking on large projects, you might want to get something which does the job relatively quick. If you’ll be dealing majorly with smaller projects, which take little time to complete anyways, you can likely get away with a lower speed, thus saving you a significant amount of money in the end.
What resolution do you need?
As with a printer’s speed, a higher resolution always translates to a higher overall level of functionality. However, depending on just what it is you plan on printing in the first place, you might not even be able to notice the difference between a high and low resolution. As such, if you know you’ll be printing off objects which rely very little on smaller details, you may be able to skimp on resolution with no apparent downsides. On the other hand, more intricate designs will require a higher resolution to fully utilize. Knowing what you’re going to be printing before picking out a designated printer can get you exactly what you need without having you pay extra for features you won’t end up using.
How much space to you have to store your printer?
If you’re shopping for printers in person, this isn’t too much of an issue. If you’re shopping online; however, it’s imperative that you resist the urge to judge a printer by its picture. 3D printers are built with a completely different formula than the standard printers we’ve all grown accustomed to over the years. Know how much space you have on your desk or office floor and choose your printer accordingly through reading its physical specifications. It also can’t hurt to take some measurements beforehand. Just two minutes of your time can mean the difference between a great 3D printer and a five-hundred-dollar scrap of metal that you can’t even use.
Solid Units vs. Assembly Required
You can find some printers which come in the form of many different parts jumbled together that you must put together. Sounds like a hassle, right? Not so fast. If you plan on dealing with more advanced 3D printers in the future, you really need to begin learning the ins and outs of just how it is these machines work in the first place. What better way to learn than by actually building one yourself? Of course, you won’t be welding pieces together. However, undergoing a bit of basic assembly can really help you be on your way to mastering the 3D printer one and for all.
On the other hand, you may have no interest in switching to a more advanced printer in the future. Or perhaps you find yourself calling a professional whenever things go wrong with your electronics (and rightfully so; we don’t always have time for DIYing). If this sounds like you, you may be able to get away with a unit that comes in one solid piece. Whether or not you feel this will inhibit your future 3D printing experiences is up to you to decide.
Common 3D Printer Features
There are a few features you should always look out for in a 3D printer. Such features will often make running your new printer a rather seamless experience. Try keeping an eye out for the characteristics listed below when shopping for a new 3D printer.
- A Large Print Area – What size your printer should be will all come down to your own requirements. However, no matter the size of your printer, it’s always good to see its printing area account for a very large portion of its overall mass. This allows you to get more done with less space.
- Included Software – You can find a large variety of 3D printing software all over the net for free. While it may be worth experimenting with these at some point or another, who better to offer you software for your new printer than the people who actually built it in the first place? Although this may not be as important if you’re rather experienced in the world of 3D printing, it’s always nice to see some degree of automation in the setup of a new model you have yet to experience for the first time.
- Included Filament – Once again, this may be less important if you’re experienced with these printers, though it will still prove a nice bonus nonetheless. While I’d certainly never recommend buying a 3D printer based solely on whether or not it comes with filament, if you’re on the fence between two different models, take a look to see which one has filament included.
Mastering the 3D printer may take a bit of time. As such, why waste it shopping? By remembering everything we’ve covered in this buyer’s guide, walking away with a great printer should take no time at all. If you simply don’t know where to begin looking, keep in mind the three products we covered earlier, as this is a great starting point.