In the ever-changing world of today, where new products and designs are being invented in the blink of an eye, 3D printers are the ultimate craze. From schools and design shops, to hobbyists and hospitals – their demand has been constantly on the rise in the past few years thanks to the fact that they are incredibly precise and easy to use.
If this is the first time that you are dealing with a 3D printer, you might feel a bit confused as to which kind is best for you and how to operate it. But no need to worry – in this article we’ll be talking about the different printer types, the materials they are made from and their speed. Now let’s get into more detail.
There are two basic types that you should be familiar with – the FFM (Fused Filament Manufacturing) and SLA (Stereo Lithography). FFM printers heat up a plastic filament that when it starts to melt the printer head starts to move and directs it to start forming the shape of the model. SLA printers on the other hand, use lasers to solidify a resin and by focusing the laser it begins to create the outer form of the model. Out of both of these desktop 3d printers the FFM printer is the cheaper version and it is also much simpler to use.
Depending on the type of desktop 3d printers you like, you will need to choose the suitable type of material that it uses to print. The FFM printer uses filaments like the LulzBot TAZ 6, which is available in many different materials such as ABS (same plastic used for making lego blocks), PLA (a brittle, biodegradable material) and HDPE (a light, tough polystyrene). Bear in mind that all of these filaments can be found in many different colours. There are not that many options for SLA printers, but some models can use resins that range from rigid to flexible and rubbery.
If you have ever used a 3D printer, you probably know that it takes some time to create a model. A 7-10cm model will typically take somewhere between 6 and 12 hours to be printed, depending on its complexity and the print quality you choose. 3D printers work by layering, so the thicker the layer you select – the faster the printing will go. However, choosing thicker layers means less detail and poor resolution. Essentially, it is a trade off between quality and time. Good printers will always have the option of choosing the type of quality you want to get from each print.