Different Types of 3D Printers
It goes without saying that the price of 3D printers varies depending on their type. For instance, 3D printers used for professional purposes tend to cost more than those that are built for hobbyists. The main reason for this is that professionals invest more in their equipment (because they obviously want the best for high-end projects), while hobbyists or enthusiasts tend to use their 3D printers for DIY projects at home.
There are two main factors that you need to consider when it comes to getting a 3D printer:
- What is your budget?
- What are you going to use the machine for?
You also need to get familiar with the different types of 3D printers available in the market. The following are some of the different types of 3D printers that you will have to choose from. Of course, industrial and professional 3D printers are going to cost you a lot more than those that have been designed for entry-level users, hobbyists, and enthusiasts.
- Enthusiast 3D Printers
- Entry-level 3D Printers
- Hobbyist 3D Printers
- Industrial 3D Printers
- Professional 3D Printers
It is important to note that along with the price tag, the size, capability, and features of a machine also change for each category. For instance, entry-level 3D printers cost around $200 - $400, while top-of-the-line industrial 3D printers could cost thousands of dollars.
Entry-Level Category 3D Printers
$200 – $400
Beginners should use entry-level 3D printers, mainly because they're not familiar with the machines and getting good at 3D printing is a matter of practice and trial-and-error. Entry-level 3D printers are an excellent way to familiarize yourself with the technology before investing in a more expensive one. They have a rather easy learning curve, so learning how to use them should not be a problem.
However, your experimentation will be limited since these are entry-level machines. For instance, most entry-level printers won't allow you to print anything larger than 3-4 inches in any dimension. Another limitation is the material selection. Also, most printers only let you use one filament at a time.
In comparison to more costly machines, an entry-level 3D printer might be noisy and sluggish. They're also not particularly long-lasting, which are two other factors to keep in mind.
3D Printers for Hobbyists
$300 – $1,500
Hobbyists are folks who have dabbled with 3D printing but have caught the bug. They've developed a strong interest in it and want to get their creative juices flowing. 3D printers for hobbyists are competent devices, especially at the top end of the market. Larger 3D items may be printed on hobbyist 3D printers than on entry-level equipment, which is why these are often the next step for those who have been bitten by the 3D printing bug.
With most hobbyist models, you won't be able to create anything larger than 5-6′ inches in any dimension, but the good news is, the majority of enthusiast 3D printers are quicker than entry-level models. They also provide greater material versatility, allowing you to be more creative when designing 3D components.
Professional-Grade 3D Printers
$3,500 – $6,000
These 3D printers are no joke. They produce high-quality 3D components, with some having a build area of about 12 inches (all dimensions). The variety of 3D print materials available currently includes a wide range of textures and colors. In addition, the top machines in this category can print quickly while retaining high quality.
These printers will definitely make a massive dent in your bank account, which is why you need to make sure you really need a professional-grade 3D printer. Schools and colleges, robotics groups, and large and small businesses are among the people (and organizations) that invest in a professional 3D printer.
Industrial 3D Printers
$20,000 – $100,000
If you're going to use the 3D printer for your DIY pet projects at home, you probably won't be needing an industrial 3D printer. However, if you're running a business that requires the use of 3D printing, you'll need one of these machines. Industrial 3D printers are extremely long-lasting, thanks to the use of a lot of metal. They also come with easy-to-use user interfaces for bespoke printing modes.
They aren't 3D printers that you can make yourself. As a result, most models come with an additional maintenance cost. There may also be limitations in terms of materials and their availability. Anyone who buys one of these creatures, though, should be aware of all of their alternatives. Many of the less expensive professional printers are beginning to compete with these super-expensive printers.
Other Factors to Consider
Apart from the type of 3D printer you choose, there are also other factors that will bump up the cost of owning one.
Not all three-dimensional models are made equal. Some are ready-made for simple 3D printing, while others are just plain insane. Basically, the complexity of your project will determine the type of 3D printer you need. If you're looking to print prosthetics or machine parts, you're going to need a high-end printer to get the job done.
The material you pick is also going to make a big difference to the overall cost of your 3D printer. You may already know that there are several options, but we'll concentrate on the most popular ones for now – thermoplastics and resin. Even if you're new to 3D printing, you've undoubtedly come across the terms "ABS" and "PLA." This is because these two materials are the most frequently utilized 3D printing materials available in the market today. These thermoplastics are popular among hobbyists since they are inexpensive. Filaments range from $20 to $70 per kilogram and need to be used with precision. This is arguably the best 3D printing material available. It's adaptable to nearly any difficult project and produces the highest-quality 3D prints.
Resin material, on the other hand, is extremely pricey. Standard resin costs $50 per liter on average, with certain resin compounds costing up to $300 per liter. Fortunately, 3D printing businesses often have lower pricing for this sort of material.
Not all 3D models can be created with the same amount of filament. This means that the amount of 3D printing you will be doing will also impact the cost of owning a 3D printer. The good news is there is 3D printing software that you can use to get a good idea of just how much material you will need to create a particular design using your 3D printer.