Everything you need to know about XNUMXD printers

XNUMXD printers have been transformed from an expensive, bizarre invention into an affordable, useful device. See what you need to know about them.

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You may have seen some parts sold on the internet made with a 3D printer instead of plastic molded parts.

For example, a support arm for a graphics card may include some XNUMXD printed pieces. Other items may be entirely 3D printed.

After all, is XNUMXD printing worth the money and effort? Just think that printing some products from your home is likely to surpass Amazon's fastest delivery method. Or if you are the creative type, a XNUMXD printer may be what you need to make your dreams come true.

So if you are thinking of getting your first 3D printer, there are some things to keep in mind, such as the different types of XNUMXD printers, the accessories you will need to buy, the maintenance and more. Let's go see them.

The two main types of XNUMXD printers you can buy

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Many types of XNUMXD printers are available, but the two main types are stereolithography (SLA - stereolithography), which uses resin and n molten deposition modeling (FDM - fused deposition modeling) that uses a spool.

FDM is both the most common type of 3D printer and the most popular with people who want to print XNUMXD at home. But resin printing can best suit your needs.

FDM is historically the cheapest of the two options, although resin printer prices are falling. Your FDM printer will take a few millimeters wide thermoplastic thread, heat it to melt it, and layer it until your object is formed.

The items produced are durable and usually ready for use without the need for any additional processing. It lags behind in the formation of very subtle features and in the degree of detail it can capture. Due to the fact that it is the most widespread technology, they are constantly evolving with new materials that give objects special properties and characteristics.

SLA printing is the shaping of objects by the hardening of liquid resin by ultraviolet radiation (photopolymerization). Using resin has some disadvantages, some of which can be dangerous to your health. The process releases fumes and the resins themselves can be harmful to your skin and eyes.

Eye protection, gloves and ventilation are therefore recommended. The prints may then need to be washed and hardened, which you can do with a special wash and curing station or just with a sink and sill if it is sunny outside.

But there are benefits. Resin printers can include more detail and display fewer layers (these horizontal lines) than FDM printers. They produce items of such excellent quality, precision and detail that it is often difficult to distinguish whether the item is the final product and not a printed original. The variety of resins is huge, allowing the creators to choose the level of hardness, color and flexibility that will have their object.

XNUMXD printers do not have to be expensive

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If you want to start with a 3D printer, you can choose a basic machine for less than € 200 . For higher quality models the prices can really skyrocket to a few thousand euros.

The extra money allows you to print with a more complete set of threads, have a larger print bed that allows for larger prints, improved print speeds, and generally higher quality prints.

In FDM printers, cheaper models may not have print beds, which can make it difficult for you to use certain threads without major problems.

Yarns and resins also vary in price depending on quality and application. A reasonable quality spool of one kilo of PLA or ABS yarns can cost between 20 and 40 €.

How long this lasts depends on how long you plan to print. If you limit yourself to one item 10g per week, then your yarn will last for years. If you have done a lot of big projects then you can replace your spool every few days.

Some specialty yarns, which may contain metals or carbon fiber, will be more expensive and may not be used on all XNUMXD printers.

Everything you need to get started

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The first thing you need is a 186,00D printer of some sort. As mentioned above, you can buy an FDM printer at prices starting at € 210,00 and the price of an entry level SLA printer starts at € XNUMX.

Printing material
You will also need some printing material, either thread or resin depending on your printer choice. If you desperately want to start with a limited budget, a PLA or ABS yarn roll is usually sold every 10 meters and starts from € 1,50 (10 meters is about 57 grams, so the kilo starts from 26,00 euros).

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Respectively one liter of resin starts from € 33,00. You can add more print media and expand your options as time goes on.

There are differences between PLA and ABS in both quality and processing:
PLA Thermoplastic (Fused Deposition Modeling)
PLA (Poly Lactic Acid) is a biodegradable thermoplastic derived mainly from plant renewable sources which ranks it among the first in the list of the most environmentally friendly plastic materials. PLA is hard, durable and has more rigidity compared to ABS. The temperature at which it begins to soften is about 65 degrees Celsius.

An object made of PLA can be sanded and machined such as drilling, turning and milling. It can also be painted with acrylics and other paints. It is the most common 3D printable material, ideal for all applications that do not suffer from high temperatures.

ABS Thermoplastic (Fused Deposition Modeling)
ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) is one of the most common types of plastics in the manufacturing industry. The well-known LEGO® bricks are one such example. ABS is of petroleum origin which makes it less "green" than PLA.

It is very durable, hard and slightly flexible so that under limited pressure it bends instead of breaking. It maintains its robustness up to 105 degrees Celsius, so it is ideal for applications where resistance to high temperatures is required. The plastics of motorcycles are usually made of ABS. Like PLA it can be pierced and sanded with no problem.

Many XNUMXD printers do not work on their own, so you will need some software. There are many options that will cost you money, but there is also enough free software to help you. An SD card may also come in handy if you can not connect your printer to a laptop and need another way to tell it what to print.

There are a number of accessories that you will find useful. You may need something to grab the printed piece from the printer bed. Resin printers may need to be coupled to one of the washing and curing stations mentioned earlier. Excess pieces of yarn may need to be cut or sanded. And you will need tools to maintain your printer and keep it running properly.

Resolution and speed of 3D printing

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Other characteristics of a 3D printer are its resolution, density and print speed. 3D printing is done by depositing successive layers of material. The thickness or height of these layers determines the print resolution. In higher resolutions the layers are difficult to distinguish so the visual result is better compared to the corresponding lower resolutions. The available options displayed by the application depend on the material you have selected for your printing.

Analysis in Fused Deposition Modeling
It can start from 0,3mm and in the very expensive ones up to 100 microns (millimeters). It is essentially the thickness of each layer that is adjusted in millimeters.

The smaller the thickness the better the print. With a thickness of 0,3mm, the result is a durable and robust object that has distinct levels both visually and to the touch.

While with a thickness of 0,1mm (in every millimeter of the object there are 10 layers of material) these layers are so thin that we can not perceive them either visually or in touch.

Analysis in Stereolithography
Respectively in the resin the thickness can start from 0.05mm and reach up to 25 microns.

Speed: It is usually measured in milliseconds per second.

Density (p%)
Density does not actually refer to the quality of the printer, but it does play a big role in print speed. It is about how full the closed structures of the object to be printed will be in material. Density, or filling percentage, is expressed as a percentage. The higher the percentage, the more material will be used, where 100% gives us a fully compact object.

Below you can see a square printed on different density scales.
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The robustness and final weight of the 3D printed object depend directly on this setting. It is good for objects that are functional, in which case they are under mechanical stress, to choose one of the highest percentages. Otherwise if the model is intended to be presented it is safe to choose a lower price.

You can also find 3D printers with a spool and extruder (single), with two (dual) or with triple.

XNUMXD printers require some maintenance

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You should definitely use a maintenance tool kit. FDM printers will require more work than SLA printers, but both will benefit from a regular maintenance schedule.

The manufacturer's wizard can provide a checklist that you can use to make sure your printer is in good working order.

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As with most things, a XNUMXD printer will benefit from regular cleaning. Make sure the printer is dust-free if it has not been used for a long time, as contamination can damage a print. Likewise, a wipe after each use will not harm it.

The straps on which your printer rests may need to be stretched or replaced from time to time. Some parts require lubrication to keep everything smooth. A flat printer bed is important, so check your printer bed often and adjust it as needed.

Your printer nozzle may require special care. If it clogs with melted thread at some point it can usually be cleaned. This will involve heating the nozzle and either cleaning it with a brush or removing the barrier with pliers. If the nozzle is hopelessly full it may need to be replaced completely.

You can print almost anything

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You can print almost any object you can imagine, provided you can transfer this idea to a CAD file. So if you are an inventor that wants to make an original object, or one cosplayer wanting some pieces of costume or just a DIY lover who needs a missing piece from your old device, 3D printing may be right for you.

Some items only need one print. Others may require printing and assembly of many components, along with some sanding and dyeing. Yarn restrictions that you can use may also play a role. Sometimes XNUMXD printed fittings need to work with other fittings made of metal, or with nuts and bolts.

Despite the shortcomings, printing an object is much easier than sculpting from clay, carving an object from wood or casting it. All of these things tend to require skills and a range of expensive equipment. At its basic level, XNUMXD printing simply requires a XNUMXD printer.

You do not need to be a design expert to use it

3D printer thingiverse

You can use a XNUMXD printer with absolutely no design experience or ability. Tons of items are available in XNUMXD databases, some of which are free. You can search for something that suits your needs, download the file and send it to the printer. The whole process can be as simple as using a conventional printer.

If there is something specific you need but can not find a CAD file that fits, then there are other ways to bring your designs to life. You may not be able to use CAD effectively, but there are a lot of people who know. You can hire a good designer who will design what you need at a reasonable price.

They are becoming more useful, but they are still not for everyone

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Just like with a standard printer, not everyone needs a 3D printer, but the need for one is ever-increasing. Think for a moment about conventional printers, a technology that once belonged to very few but is now found in most (but not all) homes.

If you do not have and need to print a resume, you may be feeling short of a printer as you have to go to your friend who owns a printer. However, if the handle in the kitchen drawer breaks, you will probably look at when you can walk to the hardware store instead of just printing a new handle and continuing your day.

This will change as XNUMXD printing becomes more mainstream. You will see the ways in which it could affect your life, and then you can evaluate whether a jump in XNUMXD printing is worth it.

If you occasionally need an individual item, then paying someone to print it for you is the most sensible and cost-effective option. If you find that you need plastic things two or three times a week, then it's time to jump.

Even more are coming

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In extreme cases, 3D printing is already pushing the boundaries of what people might think is possible. It has applications in the medical field, and if in a few years you are unlucky enough to need a transplant, your new instrument may have been printed in XNUMXD.

The old and expensive prosthetic limbs are now printed at a much lower cost and are accessible to all.

XNUMXD printed houses could revolutionize the housing market. Houses can be "printed" from concrete and earth raw materials. Using this technique, exterior walls can be built in 12 hours, which is four weeks faster than conventional construction methods.

If the idea of ​​plastic printing discourages you, there are currently XNUMXD printers available that use metal ή ξύλο - although quite expensive. You can still print and a steak.

All of this increases the number of applications in which XNUMXD printing plays a role and increases the chances that you will encounter it in your daily life.

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Written by Dimitris

Dimitris hates on Mondays .....

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