Have you ever dreamed of printing out figures of your favourite childhood characters? With the ever-decreasing prices of modern 3D printers, this is now possible. But that’s not all you can do with a 3D printer. You can also easily make various tools, cutlery, phone cases and anything else you can think of.
If you want to buy a 3D printer, you should know that you are facing a challenging task because the differences in prices between different models are very different. In addition, there are many features and materials that printers work with.
What are 3D printers?
We probably don’t need to explain what a standard printer can do. You can print colour shapes, pictures, text and much more with the help of paper ink. The 3D printer is an even more advanced technology. Instead of printing on paper, it prints on a special surface that allows you to create virtually any object. But what exactly does this mean?
This means that you can use 3D printers to create a three-dimensional structure from plastic or other materials. This happens at different speeds, layer by layer and depending on what device you are using. For a satisfactory result, you need a powerful machine, suitable filament (printing threads), as well as up-to-date and compatible software.
What is printed with?
The filament can be made of different materials. In most cases, however, the thread is made of ABS material. This is a special plastic mixture used in the form of thin filaments for the printing process.
We will take a closer look at the different types of materials. These filaments are usually wound on a spool and loaded into the device like ordinary ink cartridges. As an accessory, the filament can usually be purchased from various hypermarkets or in a speciality store in the same department as the ink cartridges or toner cartridges.
Different techniques are used during 3D printing. However, most of the printers available on the market use fused deposit modelling (FDM) or fusible filament production (FFF). Regardless of the technology used, 3D printing is always a layer melting process that achieves the desired printing results.
The necessary software
Unlike standard printers, the software is also essential for a 3D printer. The software you need for a standard inkjet or laser printer cannot be compared to the software you need to use for a 3D printer. This often requires many computational CAD programs (automated design), but the manufacturers do not always supply them. Eventually, the device creates a three-dimensional object from a template created in the CAD program itself.
CAD programs are very extensive and are offered by many software companies. But not every program is suitable for every 3D printer or for every one of your printing projects. In principle, the desired model is previously constructed using the CAD program. Most of the necessary templates can be found on the Internet.
How do 3D printers work?
3D printing is always done according to a model template from the respective CAD program. This task is performed with a nozzle that precisely layers the preheated thread. In particular, the material is drawn from a small threaded motor through the nozzle head and melted.
The already melted thread is applied piece by piece from the nozzle on a special construction board until the planned detail is finished. Even with the most modern devices, this process takes several hours, but it all depends on how big the model is.
Tools, toys and decorative items and even everyday items such as mobile phone cases or utensils can now be printed. All you need except a 3D printer and the suitable filament is the right software and the designed print model. You will either model yourself on the computer or download a template from the Internet.
You can also use a 3D scanner for the items you want to be reproduced in the colour and size of your choice. In addition, today, you will find numerous communities on the Internet that are more deeply involved in the topic of 3D printing to take advantage of tips and practical help.
Acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) or polylactide (PLA) fibres are the most commonly used printing materials. These materials are also characterized by easy processing. If you want solid and heat-resistant models, you should choose ABS filament.
If you want to buy a 3D printer, you can choose from many devices. Because now different manufacturers offer even more machines from all possible price ranges. Nowadays, this device is now available for only a few hundred levs. If you want a high-quality model, you can easily pay a few thousand, but the expensive one is not always better. It depends primarily on the purpose for which you are buying the device.
When looking to buy such a device, you need to know from the beginning that you probably won’t find models from well-known manufacturers like Samsung, HP, Epson, and Canon because their products are restricted for personal use.
You need to pay attention to a few things:
- Printing speed
- Compatible print material
- The size of the installation space and the size of the print
No matter which area you want to use it in, whether at home or in a store, the 3D printer can only be used with a computer with up-to-date USB ports for direct connection. However, some models have an SD card reader. This option allows you to use the printer without a computer. When choosing, it is good to make sure that the chosen model has the connectivity you prefer.
As mentioned earlier, these devices have significant differences in print speed. Some models only need a few hours to complete complex printing, while others need to work all day. You should not confuse and compare the print speed of a 3D printer with a standard inkjet printer. No model will complete a large and complex model in a matter of minutes.
If time is not so important to you and you can wait a little longer for high quality and beautiful model, you can ignore the printing speed. This way you can either save some money or buy something essential for you too.
Known types of filaments are ABS, PLA, Nylon – as each material has its advantages and disadvantages. For example, ABS is the most commonly used thread and is relatively easy to process even after printing. PLA is a biodegradable material because it is based on corn starch. However, nylon is highly durable and robust.
Nylon, Laywood and Laybrick are only suitable for specific models. To use these materials at all, the 3D printer must be designed for the manufacturer’s always specified. Some devices are ideal for all current materials.
The build volume shows how much space the finished model can take up in the printer. If you want to make larger models with your 3D printer, you need to pay special attention to the available space.
A build volume of 20 x 20 x 20 cm is sufficient for medium-sized models. However, some devices only have a space of 12 x 12 x 12 cm, which unfortunately only offers space for relatively small models. If you are looking for personal use on the market, there are usually quite a few 3D printers with a 15 x 15 x 15 cm build volume.
Advantages of 3D printers
The ability to print different elements yourself is the biggest advantage of a 3D printer. It is even more cost-effective and efficient to print them instead of making them by hand for some elements. Many companies know this, and today they try to produce as many products as possible with modern printers. Screws, tools and parts for many products are increasingly being produced with these devices.
Of course, personal items such as bolts, nuts or the like can also be printed. Even more creative models can be realized with the help of an appropriate program. In addition, 3D printers are also widely used to make custom phone cases or sculptures.
You also can scan existing objects with a 3D scanner as often as you want to reproduce. In principle, everything can be scanned, such as keys, gears, cutlery and more.
3D printer application
Of course, it’s up to you how you want to use your 3D printer. You already know that the areas of application are very flexible and diverse. In the 3D printing communities, you can even find instructions for printing cities from plastic models that can be used for layouts, for example. It is possible to print an entire dollhouse, furniture and dolls, unique Christmas decorations and even board games. As long as you have imagination, you will have no limits. All this is just a few clicks away with the right materials.
These devices are also used in modern medicine. But the models used in this field cannot be compared with devices from other industries or those for personal use. Nevertheless, they already give a clear idea of the opportunities we will take advantage of in the future. Even today, they are used to print parts of organs, tissues or even skin parts used in various medical fields. This ranges from organ transplantation to plastic surgery.
In summary, the application areas of 3D printers are:
- Art and design
- conceptual models
- Mechanical engineering
Which are the best 3D printers on the market right now
To help you make a purchase decision, we’ve compared different 3D printers for you and told you what each device does. In the guide, you will learn what this device is, how it works and what to look for when buying.
1. Creality Official Ender 3 Pro 3D Printer
The first product in our comparison is Ender 3 Pro. The manufacturer provides you with all the essential information you need to assemble your 3D printer through easy-to-use operating instructions. In an unexpected power outage during printing, the 3D printer immediately resumes the process when power is restored.
The operation of the device is facilitated with easy to use control panel. Another advantage of the Ender 3 Pro is that it automatically detects a finishing filament. This will allow the machine to automatically shut down when you need to replace the 3D print filament roll. You can resume the operation with just a few clicks.
The build volume is 220x220x250mm.
2. ANYCUBIC 3D Printer Mega Zero V2
Mega Zero V2 has an automatic levelling work plate. This will always allow you to get flawless 3D models, even if the table you put it is at an angle. In addition, the newly developed extruder provides absolute accuracy and high speed in the printing process. In addition, this device has a built-in filament holder, which significantly improves the stability of the printer. The build volume is 220 x 220 x 250 mm, making it a solid and practical 3D printer.
3. Creality Ender 5 Plus 3D Printer
We continue with Creality Ender 5 Plus, which is available at an average price. Again, this is a kit that you must assemble yourself before you can use it. However, the steps are quite easy to use, explained in the manufacturing manual so that technology enthusiasts can import the structure faster.
Despite the affordable price, the Ender 5 Plus can impress you with its exceptional functionality. The FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) printing process, which sequentially layers many separate layers of material, results in a more accurate and cost-effective printing process.
In addition, the Ender 5 Plus impresses with its easy operation and a good build volume of 350 x 350 x 400 mm.
4. Monoprice 134619 Select a mini V2 3D printer
This is an easy-to-use mini 3D printer that is no bigger than a home coffee machine and can fit any desk. With a 120 x 120 x 120 mm build volume, the small device offers good features and surpasses many other products in this category.
In addition, this device has an SD card reader that allows you to print your models with just a few clicks on the control panel.
Thanks to its compact design, you can easily transport it from one room to another.
5. XYZ Printing da Vinci Jr. 1.0 3D printer
Da Vinci JUNIOR can be easily put into operation in just a few steps, which gives it a slight advantage, unlike the first two products.
You can join the large online 3D design community with a collection of artists to share or upload your 3D designs online. Whether you have questions about how to use the 3D printer, you will get an answer at lightning speed.
Da Vinci JUNIOR has a closed work area and a window that allows you to monitor the process. This guarantees additional device security and reliable dust protection. The modern design of Da Vinci JUNIOR definitely gives a nice touch and is worth considering.
6. VoxeLab Aquila 3D Printer
Are you looking for a very affordable 3D printer? Then VoxeLab Aquila with its excellent price-quality ratio, may interest you. Above all, the device is characterized by quick and easy assembly of the structure and easy operation. So, if you are looking for a cheap product that you do not need to spend so much time assembling, VoxeLab Aquila is worth considering. Due to the low price, quick setup and simple operation – VoxeLab Aquila is ideal for beginners who would like to experience the world of 3D printing.
VoxeLab Aquila has excellent filament compatibility. This means that with this device, you can easily use different materials such as ABS or PLA. However, you have to accept for the low price that the print speed of this device is relatively low, and the build volume is not the largest. If you plan to print very large models, you should look for another device.
7. XYZ Printing da Vinci mini w 3D printer
We continue with the Da Vinci MINI W, which is also available at a very reasonable price and is one of the best-selling devices in this price range. Here it is especially impressive that this 3D printer, unlike most other devices at this price, does not have to be assembled. The device is available as an assembled model and is ready for use.
In addition, the Da Vinci MINI W supports a 1.75 mm thick PLA filament. Thanks to its small size and open frame construction, this device fits easily on any desk. This is a solid and affordable device that is perfectly suitable for beginners.
8. Geeetech Acrylic Prusa I3 Pro
The next product in our comparison is from Geeetech. What immediately attracts attention is the extremely low price. Again, this is a kit that you need to assemble before first use, but it doesn’t take more than 30 minutes.
Geeetech Acrylic Prusa I3 Pro has a so-called open-filament system, which allows you to use both ABS and flexible PLA filaments. The high layer resolution and low tolerances also ensure smooth surfaces and a stable object structure of your models.
Overall, you get a very flexible 3D printer that is ideal for getting started in the world of 3D printing.
Thanks to the open design, you have free access to the print object at any time.
9. 3D Printer Anycubic Photon Mono
Anycubic Photon Mono is again a mid-range device. A special feature of this device is the special printing process. In this case, the liquid synthetic resin is cured by UV rays – layer by layer.
To maintain a uniform UV light for a longer period of time, a highly efficient radiator is essential for this process. In combination with a 2K screen, you can expect stunning printing results. For this, the manufacturer provides you with the internal software “ANYCUBIC Photon workshop / ChituBox 1.8+”. This makes it easier for you to operate the printer, allowing even a layperson to use it without any problems.
The advantage of this device is the efficiency of printing processes. In addition, Anycubic Photon Mono has an easy-to-use USB mode and Wi-Fi connectivity.
If you are already familiar with 3D printing and you are used to FDM technology in the first place, you should take some time to get used to it, but if you are buying for the first time – Anycubic Photon Mono is a good choice.
10. QIDI TECH Large Size Intelligent Industrial Grade 3D Printer
QIDI TECH is also one of the products aimed at more experienced users. The price range can be found as for the previous product of the above class. The build volume of 300 x 250 x 300mm also offers you a lot of space for future models.
The clear screen will make it easier for you to set up and use the printer. In addition to the standard USB port and Wi-Fi connection, you can use an SD card. With this printer, you can process ABS, PLA, TPU, Flexible Filament.