There are several elements to consider when choosing a 3D printer. Firstly, you need to think about the models you want to print with it. This will determine the choice of 3D printing method (FDM, DLP, SLA, etc.), as well as the size of the printer. Check out what 3D printer specifications you should pay attention to.
The size of the working area determines the maximum dimensions of the printed object – both its weight and dimensions (x, y, z).
The most common home 3D printers have a working field in X and Y of around 200-250 [mm], there are also some in the 300-350 [mm] range, but these are less common. As for the height in the z-axis, it is usually 200 to 300 [mm].
VSHAPER industrial printers have working area sizes: 250x250x175 [mm] or 420x420x420 [mm]. They make it possible to print more parts at the same time (small batch production) or to print larger models.
Most industrial printers use auto levelling of the table before printing, so that each print is placed on the working platform in the same way. This eliminates the problems of print detachment and failed prints. In home printers, the presence of such a sensor is optional and rare. This involves controlling the alignment of the work platform and adjusting it manually. This is tedious and labour-intensive.
Home printers are usually open designs without an enclosed print chamber, this presents problems when printing materials that have higher shrinkage during cooling such as ABS. This can cause problems such as corners coming loose on larger prints or even the entire print falling off the work platform or the model cracking and delaminating.
Most industrial machines have a chamber to stabilise the air in the chamber and minimise the risk of print distortion due to material shrinkage. In addition, heating systems for such a chamber are often used, which further stabilises the conditions in which the printing takes place. This makes it possible to print even very demanding materials such as PEEK.
Home printing is directly related to materials with relatively lower processing temperatures, i.e. PLA, PET-G, ABS. There are very few machines that process high-temperature materials such as PEEK.
Firstly, such materials are more expensive and require much more knowledge about their use. PEEK is a highly specialised material, biocompatible and even used in medicine.
In industrial printers, the most common type of material feed is called Direct. This means that the material feeder is located above the hotend in the print head. Thanks to the short distance between the feeder and the nozzle, we are able to feed material more precisely and use materials with less rigidity such as TPU (rubber). Unfortunately, this is associated with greater weight, this at higher speeds can affect the speed performance of the machine. Therefore, the XY layout of industrial machines needs to be stiffer, which comes at an additional cost.
More common in home printers is the Long Distance system, where the feeder is hooked onto the printer’s support structure rather than directly onto the print head. Material is fed via a tube from the feeder to the head.
Home 3D printers, by virtue of their lower price, will in most cases have lower temperatures at which they can melt material. This is due to the use of cheaper and less thermally robust materials, as well as the open chamber.
FDM printing speeds for both segments – industrial and home printers – are very similar. Radical differences are not observed, due to the mechanical properties of the materials limiting the printing speed. However, with industrial prints, time is saved by not having to position the work table before each print, so more models will be printed in less time.
The lifespan of a 3D printer depends primarily on the quality of its manufacture. Cheaper, homemade printers are often made of Chinese, low-strength components or parts with a very low lifespan. In addition to build quality, the frequency and method of use is important. Proper care of the printer, maintenance and regular cleaning and servicing can prolong its life. It is also important to use appropriately selected filaments for the printer and to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations can significantly extend its service life.
An important element when buying an industrial printer is technical support for implementation and service. When buying a printer for home use, online instructions, which are not always available, usually have to suffice. In addition, users most often rely on online advice.
At VSHAPER, after the purchase of an industrial printer, implementation training by a 3D printing expert is provided. During the implementation, the customer becomes familiar with the operation of the printer, its features and functions. He becomes familiar with the SOFTSHAPER software. This is necessary to use the printer in the right way. In addition, VSHAPER experts are available to all VSHAPER customers for support, service, troubleshooting of reported problems. We have a dedicated system that will enable any problems to be reported quickly.