Up until recently, 3D printing seemed like something from the futuristic sci-fi movies. However, by bringing so many advantages in a variety of industries in so little time, 3D printers have become the ultimate pieces of equipment to have. Nowadays, many people are jumping on the 3D printing opportunity train and are opening businesses in a wide range of industries. So, if you’re looking to get into the undersaturated market of commercial 3D printing, then now is probably just the right time to get ahead of the curve. All you need is a commercial 3D printing machine or two, and a decent idea of what you actually want to create with them.
And while I can’t give you a good idea about what to do, I can definitely give you some tips on buying the right commercial 3D printing machine. It’s best that you visit a local tech store to buy your first 3D printer because there you can get advice from the salespeople. However, the particular store you visit may not have a wide variety of models available to fit your specific needs, so you should also consider shopping online. Regardless, there are two popular types of printers – FDM and SLA.
FDM printers are the most popular type and they use thermoplastic filament which is heated and extruded through an extrusion head that lays the molten plastic in pre-set coordinates while the building platform lowers the object layer by layer. These 3D printers are commonly used for rapid prototyping and product development in the education sector and small businesses as they can produce robust parts quickly and quite reliably. FDM printers can use a wide range of filament to print, which makes them quite versatile.
SLA printers, on the other hand, use photosensitive liquid resin and a UV-laser beam which hardens the liquid resin and makes it solid. The laser keeps sweeping layers of resin as the building platform in the liquid tank steps down the thickness of layers, and the laser starts working on the next layer. In other words, layers are built on top of each other. However, in order to do this, the printer requires support structures and after completion, the objects need to be rinsed with some kind of solvent or baked in a UV oven as a finishing touch. SLA printers are ideal for objects that require extreme attention to detail, and they’re popular in the cosmetic dentistry and jewelry industry.
That being said, make sure to do some research on the type of objects you want to print before deciding on the type of printer you need to buy. Shop around and check a couple of different models, compare their specifications and their price to make the best buying decision.