Selecting a 3D Printer

When first setting out to choose a 3D printer you may naturally ask “Which is the best 3D printer?” Fortunately or unfortunately there is no such thing, and realistically the answer is “It depends”.
It depends on what it is that you want to achieve.
The same is true if you were to ask “Which is the best 3D Printing Technology?” the answer is also “It depends”.
It depends on what it is that you want to achieve.
FFM and FDM™ is a process where a plastic filament is liquefied or melted and the print head then layer by layer builds the object.
When first selecting a 3D printer you should thoroughly evaluate what your expectations are and what you expect your printed part to be capable of.
What are you looking at it?

  1. Prototypes – to evaluate the design

  2. Functional Prototypes – to evaluate and test the design

  3. Fit and Form – to see how your design fits together

  4. Models – Marketing or Sales models

  5. Low Volume Production

  6. High Volume Production

  7. Production tools – patterns, jigs, fixtures

  8. Medical – approved medical materials

  9. Modeling

  10. Surgical guides

  11. Dental-approved medical materials

  12. Surgical Guides

Once you have determined the part application, you can start to evaluate what part criteria matter most: how to select a 3D printer

  1. Part strength

  2. Surface finish

  3. Accuracy

  4. Durability

  5. UV resistance

  6. Heat Resistance

  7. Flexibility

  8. Medical approvals

After a clear picture has been established as to what matters with regards to the part features and applications, it is then possible to evaluate 3D printing technologies and devices.

As part of any evaluation of machinery once an understanding of the part or performance requirements are established it becomes important to start comparing specifications, and this is an area that causes a lot of concern, with no approved standards that allow you to accurately evaluate the manufacturer’s claims as to the performance of their device.

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