3D printer at home
If you deciding about the 3D printer, there is mainly 3 most used routes to go. Which one you will choose depends on few things. One important point is budget. The other main point is your technical knowledge. More technical knowledge you have, smaller budget you need, to start printing 3D.
Let`s start with a bit of basic theory. You can get the 3D object in two basic ways – additive or subtractive. In subtractive process, you take peace of material and remove it, where it is not necessary. This is how the CNC milling machines work. In this article I will focus on additive 3D printing. Even if we talk about additive 3D printing, there is different technologies used. For consumer oriented printers, there is two main technologies used – stereolithography (STL), where, as material is used ultraviolet curable material and UV laser or other light source used to form the image. Other technology is – fused deposition modelling (FDM). FDM uses material wire what is pushed in printing head, where it is melted and pressed out through the nozzle and forming object layer by layer. This is the technology, I will focus on this article.
Here is timelapse video of 3D printing using FDM technology.
If you want to follow me and choose additive FDM technology, next thing is to pick the printer. One of the easiest way, that need almost no technical knowledge, is to choose printer from well known manufacturers, like Makerbot or Mass Portal. Therefore this is one of most expensive options. You can decide this option, if your budget is 2000$ or more.
If you have some technical knowledge, you can choose some 3D printer kits from online retailers and assemble it on your own. This could be one of most popular options for home users. Since most of the kits are replicas of well know open source hardware models, you can get quite good community support and there is also wide variety of additions and improvements, you can use to upgrade your printer. Depending of quality of parts, the kit is priced under 1000$
Other side of the road is to build your printer from scratch. Yes, most of the parts you can buy in local hardware and hobby stores. But you must have some degree of technical knowledge. The most popular source of information is RepRap website. There is a lot of information about possible choices for electronic parts, mechanic parts and also the firmware driving your printer. You can build your own 3D printer for as cheap as 200$
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