Things to know before buying a 3D printer

In recent years, an increasing number of people and companies are considering purchasing 3D printers to develop complex shapes and unique products.
However, 3D printer technology continues to change, and I think many people do not know how to choose because specialized knowledge is required.
In this article, we will summarize the information you should know before purchasing, such as the basic knowledge of 3D printers, the materials used for modeling, and the flow of modeling.
In addition, we will also explain the points to avoid failure when choosing a 3D printer, so if you are considering it, please refer to it.

1. Basic knowledge of 3D printers

First of all, I will summarize the basic knowledge that I want to know at least about 3D printers.

・What is a 3D printer?

A 3D printer is a technology that creates three-dimensional objects from digital data, and generally uses materials such as resin and metal.
With this technique, you can create whatever you want by stacking layers from bottom to top.
Unlike ordinary printers, 3D printers are characterized by the ability to physically create complex parts and products rather than printing designs on paper.

・Functions and uses of 3D printers

As mentioned above, a 3D printer is a device that can create three-dimensional products and parts using resin and metal.
Since it is possible to create complex parts that were difficult to achieve with conventional processing methods, it has come to be used in a variety of applications, such as the creation of prototypes, small-scale production, and the creation of special models.
They are also used for a variety of purposes and industries, including domestic, commercial, and industrial.

2. Differences between commercial and home 3D printers

Next, let's check what the difference is between commercial and home 3D printers.
Commercial 3D printers are often used for large-scale manufacturing and industrial purposes, so equipment that can produce large-sized, high-quality products in a short time is common.
It has many advantages such as high durability and high reliability.

On the other hand, home 3D printers are generally small and inexpensive.
It is suitable for small-scale models and home use, so it is easy for individuals to use.
In addition, 3D printing can be easily used at home, so it can be used for hobbies and work.
However, it may be difficult to make large sizes or complex shapes, and some materials cannot be used, so it is necessary to check in advance.

3. Differences between resin 3D printers and metal 3D printers

Next, we will explain the differences between resin 3D printers and metal 3D printers, which are often confused.

Left) Resin 3D printer model Right) Metal 3D printer model

The biggest difference between resin 3D printers and metal 3D printers is the difference in materials and modeling methods used.
Resin 3D printers can model soft materials such as plastics and resins.
It is low-cost and easy to manufacture, making it suitable for individual and small-scale use in homes and schools.

On the other hand, metal 3D printers can create objects using metals such as copper, aluminum, and stainless steel.
Therefore, metal 3D printers are capable of high-precision, high-strength modeling.
In the process of modeling using metal, there are many methods of melting metal at high temperatures, so it is common to use full-fledged equipment for commercial use.

Above, I explained the difference between a 3D printer and a metal 3D printer. It is important to choose a 3D printer that suits your needs and budget.

4. What a 3D printer can do

It turns out that 3D printers are used in many applications, from domestic to industrial.
From here, I will explain what you can do specifically with a 3D printer.

・Prototype production

3D printers can produce prototypes when developing new designs and products.
In the development and design of new products, you can check the design and shape by making a small model similar to the actual product.
You will be able to efficiently develop products by generating ideas and conducting sales based on prototypes.

・Production of industrial parts

By using a 3D printer, it is possible to manufacture parts used for small lot production and parts repair.
This makes it easy to produce small numbers of parts that don't need to be mass-produced.

・Production of replicas

By combining a 3D printer and a 3D scanner, it is possible to scan an existing object, convert it to digital data, and reproduce it based on the data. This makes it possible to produce replicas of large products and old toys.

5. Materials used in 3D printers

3D printers are not made of the same materials or materials, so it is necessary to select materials according to the characteristics of the product you want to make.
Below, we will explain the main materials used and their characteristics by dividing them into resin and metal.

・Materials and characteristics used in resin 3D printers

The main materials and characteristics used in resin 3D printers are as follows.

① ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene):

・Synthetic resin ・High strength ・Heat resistance and flexibility

② PLA resin (Polylactic Acid):

・Plant-derived synthetic resin ・Environmentally friendly ・Easy processing and stable molding

③ PEEK (Polyether Ether Ketone):

・High heat resistance and durability ・Resistant to high temperatures

④ PET (polyethylene terephthalate):

・Thermoplastic resin ・High transparency ・High impact resistance and durability

⑤ Nylon:

・High friction resistance ・High impact resistance

⑥ Gypsum:

・Easy to paint after modeling ・Low impact resistance

In addition to the materials introduced above, there are other materials such as mixed materials.
Depending on the 3D printer you use, the materials that can be used and compatibility will differ, so choose the material that suits your purpose.

・Materials and features used in metal 3D printers

Next, the main materials and characteristics used in metal 3D printers are as follows.

Example) Image of molding using various metal materials

① Stainless steel:

・High corrosion resistance and antibacterial properties

② Titanium:

・High strength, light weight, and rust resistant

③ Copper:

・Excellent conductivity and flexibility

④ Aluminum:

・Inexpensive, lightweight, rust-resistant

⑤ Inconel:

・Similar to stainless steel ・Alloy with high wear resistance and heat resistance

As mentioned above, there are many types of materials that can be used with metal 3D printers, and the modeling and quality change depending on the characteristics.
Therefore, it is important to select a suitable material depending on the metal 3D printer and modeled object to be used.

6. Modeling method used in 3D printers

Next, we will introduce some of the modeling methods used in 3D printers.

(1) Fused additive manufacturing (FFF): Resin

② Stereolithography (SLA): Resin

③ Powder Sintering Layered Manufacturing (SLS): Resin

④ Deposition method (directed energy deposition method) (DED): metal

⑤ Atomic Diffusion Additive Manufacturing (ADAM): Metal

⑥ Powder Bed Method (PBF): Metal

As mentioned above, compatible materials differ depending on the type of modeling method.
We recommend that you decide whether you want to make it with resin or metal, and then choose a molding method that matches the characteristics.

7. Flow of modeling with a 3D printer

I will explain the general flow of modeling with a 3D printer.
The flow differs depending on the model, material, and modeling used.

・Creating 3D data

In order to model with a 3D printer, it is necessary to prepare 3D data first.
Use CAD or 3D modeling software to create digital models to design objects for 3D printing.
You can set various parameters such as the shape, size, and color of the model you want to create.

・Data output and checking

Output the created 3D data in a format (such as STL format) that can be used with a 3D printer.
After output, we check the expected results of the 3D printing, check the size of the 3D print and the quality of details, and make corrections as necessary.

・Start 3D printing

Send instructions to the 3D printer and start 3D printing when ready.
In this step, 3D data is sent to the 3D printer to instruct it to start building.
Based on 3D data, 3D printers proceed with modeling while layer by layer.


After the 3D printing is completed, finishing processes such as polishing, welding, and painting are performed on the product as necessary.
3D printing time can vary from hours to days to weeks, and cannot be measured in a fixed amount of time.
Therefore, it is necessary to check how much time is required depending on various factors such as the type of printer to be used, material, size, etc.

8. Points to avoid failure when choosing a 3D printer

When introducing a 3D printer, some people may not know what kind of perspective to choose.
Here, for those who are considering introducing a 3D printer mainly for business use, we will summarize the points to avoid failure.

・Clarify the purpose

First of all, let's clarify for what purpose the 3D printer will be used.
Companies use commercial 3D printers for various purposes, such as creating prototypes and aiming for full-scale manufacturing.

In order to prevent the failure of not being able to create the modeled object that you envisioned after installing it, let's clarify what you want to make and how you want to make it, including materials and sizes.
We do contract modeling, so please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or consultations.

・Check functions and specifications

Technical specifications of 3D printers vary depending on output resolution, available materials, operability, etc.
In order to find a 3D printer that has the features that suit your purpose, it is important to research the features and specifications.

・Check the price/budget

The price of a 3D printer varies greatly depending on factors such as size and features.
You need to find a 3D printer that fits the type of product you want to make and your budget.

Commercial 3D printers are generally more expensive than home 3D printers.
Also, 3D printers that support metal materials are more expensive than resin.
In order to find a device that meets your needs without exceeding your budget, it is necessary to confirm the purpose and function as described above.

If you buy a cheap 3D printer based on price alone, you may end up with inferior quality, so be careful.
We also introduce 3D printers suitable for customer's problems, so please feel free to contact us.

9. The future of 3D printers

The future of 3D printers is considered bright, and demand may increase due to various factors in the future.

Especially in the manufacturing industry, the use of 3D printers will increase to make production lines smoother and to support the production of customized parts and products.
Demand for 3D printers is expected to increase in the medical field as well, for the production of artificial tissues and joints, and the production of assistant tools during surgery.

Demand for 3D printers may also increase for personal use, as the need to create DIY products and goods using 3D printers increases.

10. Summary

In this article, we have explained in detail what you should know before purchasing a 3D printer for those who are considering using a 3D printer.

When purchasing a 3D printer, it is important to check the modeling method, functions, and usable materials in advance.
By choosing the right 3D printer for your purpose, you will be able to create the product you want.

If you do not know which 3D printer is suitable for your product or purpose, please feel free to contact us.
We sell 3D printers for both metal and resin. Please contact us if you are considering using it.

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