How to choose the right 3D printer for you?

ReprapWorld has the best assortment of 3D printers available for the best price. Whether you need a plug-and-play model that ‘just works’ or want to build a kit piece by piece, we have the most popular models from major brands. This page will help customers new to 3D printing choosing the right printer. By answering a few easy questions yourself, you will find your favorite 3D printer right away!

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What kind of products do you want to print?

The most important aspect of the printer is what you want to make with it. Some customers have a hobby like, for example, model trains or drones. If you are unsure what you need it is recommended to look for the most common properties.

Probably the most easy aspect is the size. The 3D printer needs to be able to print the biggest sized print you want to produce. The build volume defines the maximum width, depth and height of 3D prints that the 3D printer is able to produce. By changing orientation you may be able to print diagonally across the build surface, or you may be able to modularize an object into smaller 3D prints that you glue, puzzle or screw together afterwards. This of course affects the way the printed object looks and how strong it is.

Common build volumes are between 200x200x200mm and 300x300x300mm. Largest volumes are 50cm per axis, while smallest are 10cm.

Big 3D printers

Whether you want to produce a piece of art with your 3D printer or make a prototype, a certain level of quality is required. The tradeoff is time: high quality prints require more time as the printer needs to run slower and more layers may be needed to print. So layer height defines how fine the layers are, and therefor how visible. Mostly prints are made with 0.2mm layer height, where the layers are clearly visible. 0.1mm layers, make the print much smoother, but take twice the time to print. Most printers are able to produce 3D prints using 0.1mm layer height, for finer layers Resin printers are more suitable.

Printers with a bed moving in the horizontal direction tend to have a problem at printing at high speed above 15cm, as the inertia of the print may the layers appear rippled. A printer where the bed moves up and down doesn’t have that problem.

Finally the width of the lines the 3D printer prints,  define the minimum resolution, you cannot print fines than the nozzle output diameter. 0.4mm is common for most 3D printers and kind of middle-of-the-road. 0.15mm is very fine (and takes much longer to print), 1.2mm is about the largest. For Resin 3D printers, the resolution of the laser beam or light source is defining the maximum quality the machine can create.

For most 3D prints PLA filament (printed at 200-210 degrees) is a great material and most suitable for people starting in 3D printing. PETG (printed around 245) is also commonly used by more advanced users. The 3D printer should be able to reach the extrusion temperature recommended for the material of choice. While most 3D printers can reach the extruder temperature, the temperature of the heated bed as well as the type of surface affect the adhesion of the print to the build surface and the maximum temperature may be insufficient for the material. Some materials like ABS printed in larger objects need a heated chamber to be able to be printer correctly.

Finally if you want to print multiple colored prints or 3D prints with ‘overhang’ which require a support material like PVA, you need a multi-head 3D printer.

Typically 3D printers can print both PLA and PETG. If you want to use more advanced materials, you should check the required temperatures for the extruder and heated bed for that materials.

More information on filament

Do you want to print or learn how a printer works?

3D printing is not that difficult to start doing, but to understand a failure, it is good to understand how a printer works. For people new to 3D printing, assembling your own printer as a do-it-yourself kit may give you an advantage. There is the plug-and-play type of 3D printer, as well as complete bolt-by-bolt kits that may take a few days to assemble. There is more choice however. Within the Creality brand for example, the Ender series need some assembly,  but complex parts like extruders are pre-build, saving you the frustration of leaking Hot Ends, while still enable you to build it yourself in a few steps. The CR-series by Creality are not really plug-and-play, but with only two parts to assembe, they hardly count as do-it-yourself.

Plug-and-play 3D printers
Do-it-yourself printers

Do you want to upgrade?

At some point you may decide that you want to change something. For most printers we carry spare parts and upgrade too. So it may be good to check out how upgradable and maintainable your printer is, so you can extend the lifespan of it by adding features or replacing components that have worn out.

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