Desktop 3D Printer Buyers Guide Part1 – Fundamental Questions

Since you’ve already made up your mind to bring the dream machine to your home, there are a wide range of 3D printers that are available in the market. There are more than 150 different desktop 3D printers available. Out of so many options it’s quite difficult to choose one. This is where you need someone to walk to down the alley of 3D printers, that’s precisely why we are here, to suggest you the best 3D printer!

The first step would be to keep in mind why exactly do you need this printer? What purpose would it serve? Above all the main question should be what is the budget? Once you have the answers to these questions it will be a matter of time you unveil the right 3D printer for yourself.

Where do we start? As a starting point you must do a simple exercise. You just have to ask yourself these basic questions.

Will I have more fun building the printer or printing things? (What’s my Type)

There are two types of people who would love to acquire a 3D printer. The first kind, who belong to the tinker category, who love to dismantle stuff and then assemble them all over again, the DIYers! For such people the fun of it all is being able to make the machine from the scratch. It is possible to source the materials through online suppliers such as McMaster-Carr, Amazon Supply, and eBay.

The other, who just love to print out stuff that others have designed. For these people it would be better to focus on printers that come as kits, low cost and which has a relatively large community to ask questions when there’s a problem. For them the fun starts when they explore the possibilities of the 3D printer and what are all the things that they can print with the help of this printer. If you fall in this category its best to purchase a MakerBot Replicator 2 or Ultimaker, these are the two most commonly purchased 3D printers that are available in the market.

Why do I need this printer? (End Use)

Some people print functional art or desktop ornaments. Other people use it to prototype board game pieces, hardware enclosures, or product concepts. But some of the other people print functional objects to fix and solve their problems around the house. Some use it to create ornaments and while others use it to create metal fittings. These considerations are very important to determine the nature of the output including material used, output dimension, speed, layer width, strength, ductility etc, which in turn determine technology, budget and model of the printer.

What’s the amount of money you can spend? (Budget)

As a thumb rule of 3D printers, kit based printers are cheaper than the pre-assembled ones, and self sourced printers are cheaper than the kit-based printers. The range in which you can buy a decent pre-assembled printer would be $700 to $3000. The Solidoodle and the Printrbot Jr are two best examples of value 3D printers with reportedly consistently good prints for a low price. Many new companies are announcing their printers, and the prices are going down at a great extent. You can even keep visiting kickstarter for new announcements, though how many of them will be stable commercially is yet to be seen.

Once these questions are answered, we can move to the next part of the 2014 Desktop 3D Printer Buying Guide (4 Part Series) for more advanced considerations, which will be published shortly.


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