Getting Started with 3D Printing – Complete Guide for Beginners

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Getting Started with 3D Printing (source)

3D printers are now more affordable and available. People are purchasing them for use in classrooms and when completing other important tasks. Most 3D printing projects can take several hours, so checking the speed of a printer is important before you buy. Moreover, various construction materials have an effect on the printing speed and the complex models with many edges are likely to result in slower prints. If you need faster results, go for a printer with a speed over 20 millimeters per second.

Most manufacturers supply their 3D printers fully assembled but some may supply them in parts. Even though some printers have many parts, people with basic mechanical knowledge will find the assembly part very easy. Most of the models come with a single extruder to work as the filament. Such printers can only print a single color or material at a time. Therefore, the printer’s filament is the other thing to consider during your shopping. They also come in two sizes 1.75mm and 3 mm – most of the printers will come with the 1.75mm. Look for a machine with a build area that is above 5 inches by 5 inches by 5 inches.

You can measure the resolution of a 3D printer in two different ways – vertical Z or horizontal XY. The horizontal resolutions are usually smaller movements in 3D printing. A smaller resolution will produce finer details. The vertical resolutions relate to the thickness – a large number will indicate a thick product. For the horizontal measurements go for 0.01 inches and for the vertical ones stick to 0.2 or 0.3mm.

What is 3D Printing?

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What is 3D Printing? (source)

The other name of 3D printing is additive manufacturing and it involves the use of a machine to make 3-dimensional objects. The creation of 3D printed items is achievable with additive processes, which involve laying down of many successive printing material layers until an object of the right shape forms. The printed objects take the shape of thinly sliced horizontal cross-sectional objects.

3D printing is different from subtractive manufacturing – it is the exact opposite. Subtractive manufacturing involves cutting out or hollowing out pieces of plastic or metal to make a shape. A good example of subtractive manufacturing is the milling machine. With 3D printing, people can develop numerous complex shapes and use lesser material than that they used with the traditional manufacturing methods.

The 3D printers do not take the complex 3D mesh and convert them into printed models. Therefore, the user has to decode the 3D model into information that the machine can understand. The process is known as slicing because it scans for all layers in the model and guides the printer on how to print each layer. A slicer or a computer program that handles every activity such as Astroprint or Craftware guides the machine throughout the process. And because the slicer will not lay the material on open air, the 3D printer should have support columns.

Whom is 3D Printing For?

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Whom is 3D Printing For? (source)

Many professionals are benefiting from 3D printing technology. The technology has been constantly evolving and the number of industries adopting technology has been increasing too. Professionals, from both small and large companies, scientists, artists, engineers, designers, and architects are already benefiting from additive production.

They rely on the technology to create new unique items and due to its less expensive production, simplified production processes, environmental friendliness, unlimited sizes and shapes of the product, mobility and recyclable materials.

Are 3D Printers Safe?

The question of whether the available 3D printers are safe has no answer yet. To know whether a printer is safe, you will have to consider several aspects such as electrical safety, mechanical safety and the risk of burns. The power supply should meet all the CE mark regulations and should be protected against overload, short-circuit, over-temperature and over voltage. The mechanical parts of 3D printers do not have adequate power to cause injuries, but the risk of burns is usually high during the printing process.

Best 3D Printers for Beginners

Everyone is now going for something smarter and gone are those days when you could only print drawn images in 2D planes or written text. You can now print a 3D image of your desirable size and shape. To do that, you just need a quality machine. The market is already offering them at a lower price. Here are some of the best choices for beginners.

1. Da Vinci Mini Wireless 3D Printer

The daVinci Mini comes with many helpful features that most people associate with the more expensive printers. The features include the embedded Wi-Fi to allow the users to transmit their object files to form a computer to the machine without the need of connection cables. It also comes with on-board storage to allow the makers to upload their object build files to the 3D printer through a USB cable. After uploading, they can disconnect the USB cable and walk away for the machine to make the design.

The da Vinci Mini Wireless 3D Printer does not come with an on-board LCD screen or a pressure-sensitive menu to allow the users to select the functionality. Instead, the user can control every function through a USB cable or WiFi connection to their computer with the XYZWare, which is the proprietary management software of the company. The platform of the mini print is open-air and the manufacturer does not enclose it with a door like the earlier versions.

The printer is around 30 percent smaller than the predecessors are and weighs just 24.25 pounds. It measures 15.75 inches by 13.23 by 14.25 inches, which means that it is easier to transport and will not occupy much of your desktop space. The print build area is similar to that of the da Vinci Junior and stands at 5.9 inches cubed. Moreover, you do not need any special computer to run the machine. It can operate on any computer running Mac OS 10.8 and later versions or Windows 7 and the later versions.

2. FlashForge Finder 3D Printer

If you are looking for a small but sophisticated 3D printer for beginners, the FlashForge Finder 3D Printer is a good choice. Launched in 2015, the producer markets the Flashforge Finder 3D printer as easier to use a desktop printer with many unique features. After ordering the product, you will receive a box containing the printer, PLA filament spool, a USB stick, a Quick Start Guide, a USB cable, a power cable, three Allen Wrenches, and a screwdriver.

The manufacturer also supplies the filament guide tube. Its purpose is to guide the filament from the machine’s spool to its extruder. This product is square shaped and features rounded edges and corners. Even though the manufacturer uses colored plastic to make it, it looks and feels sturdy. Its volume stands at 140 mm by 140 mm by 140 mm on all axis. Remember that the print bed will also function as the sliding tray when inserting and removing.

Due to the ease of use, the fused filament fabrication (FFF) 3D printer can only accept one type of filament, the 1.75mm PLA. That eliminates the need for a heated print bed because you will not work with the difficult and toxic materials like ABS. On the downside, you will have limited options when completing a project. Wi-Fi connectivity and Flashprint software will make things easier.

3. Monoprice Select Mini 3D Printer

The Monoprice Select Mini 3D Printer features a studier featuring a sheet steel construction. Even though it looks basic at first sight, it is satisfying in an industrial way. The manufacturer has not done anything to hide the bolt heads but they have properly covered all the moving parts to prevent injuries or damages. The machine looks like one of the important laboratory machines. It comes with an impressive full-color screen. It is not touch screen but has a tactile clicky wheel near the wall mounted brushed steel plate.

The 3D printer does not come with a filament. The simple filament the manufacturer supplies with it will only help you do the testing and it will not help you build any models. For many people, that will sound like a benefit. You will have the chance of going for the brand of filament you like. Moreover, the manufacturer does not include any assembly instructions and you will have to open their website to get that. The assembly is tedious, particularly for people who hate this part.

Monoprice recommends the Repetier, Cura, Simplicity3D and ReplicatorG printing software that are astonishingly compatible with the 3D printer. The software programs are highly regarded and if you have been using a computer, you will not face any difficulties navigating your way or printing a new model. Cura will prepare some parts or provide you with full manual control and anything in between. The ability run on third party software is another added benefit.

4. XYZprinting da Vinci Junior 3D Printer

The lighter and slimmer appearance of the XYZprinting da Vinci Junior 3D Printer should not fool you. It has a robust build, the measurements stand at 59 inches by 5.9 inches by 5.9 inches and the resolution is 100 to 400 microns. The design allows the user to include an auto-feeding filament system that takes a PLA filament to the machine’s extruder to facilitate proper loading of the filament.

The da Vinci Junior comes with a visceral 9-point calibration detection system which helps it determine the real distance between the print bed and extruder. After the detection, the calibration detection system adjusts the machine’s extruder to ensure that the user gets excellent prints. The fluid press-and-release extruder allows easier replacement and cleaning of the extruder. You just need to open up the printer and press the release button. After that, replace extruder or clean it – that will take a few seconds.

The machine uses a non-toxic biodegradable PLA in filament spools that are easier to install. Therefore, you will not waste anything with the prints. The machine can only consume 75 watts of power, which means that it is greener than many other 3D printers in the market are. With the non-heated bed and enclosed design, the machine is usable around kids and the WiFi connectivity allows faster completion of jobs. The software will run on Windows 7 and later or Mac OSX and the later versions.

5. Monoprice Mini Delta 3D Printer

The Monoprice Mini Delta 3D Printer features a studier all-metal frame, an automatic bed leveling function, a heated build plate to prevent warping, an LCD screen, 50 microns maximum resolutions, Wi-Fi connectivity and it is compatible with various materials. The setup process is simple because you just need to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. The machine comes fully assembled and you will not flip on any switch for it to function.

The user interface is simple. It consists of three physical buttons – select, up and down- and a color LCD screen. You can use the buttons to navigate backward or forward through the submenus of the printer. Even though it might not be the best UI in the market, it is impressive.

The onboard software is also simple. Just as you should expect with other 3D printers from Monoprice, this one does not come with proprietary slicing software and the manufacturer does not recommend any of them. It is open-ended and the novice users are likely to experience problems when initiating their first prints. The Monoprice community has several forums that will guide you on how to use the MatterControl, Cura or any other program.

The Monoprice Mini Delta satisfies most customers when it comes to the selection of filament. The printer can use ABS, PETG or PLA and its hotend can hit 260 degrees Celsius when printing. Furthermore, it offers three connection options, which are USB, Wi-Fi, or MicroSD.

Conclusion

If you are not planning to start printing or designing any parts, then you do not need to replace your 2D printer with a 3D printer. The 3D printers print in plastic but the more expensive versions can user nearly every possible material – including artificial meat. The technology has been moving very fast and its effects can be felt in most industries. If you are planning to go buy a printer, the guide will help you know the things to look for when buying. The reviews will also give you a good starting point.

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