How to Know Which Type of 3D Printer to Buy

For many years, metallic and plastic objects were often cut from larger stock pieces of material or molded. Throughout the 20thCentury, however, the idea that something could be constructed from zero by simply adding more material started to develop. This, in time, became known as 3D printing. Fast forward to the modern-day and suddenly 3D printers are available on the market for everyone. The problem then becomes, how do you know which type of 3D printer to buy? With such new technology, it can be really hard to know what you are looking for. In this article, we will discuss some of the most important things you need to know when choosing a 3D printer. 

Types of 3D Printing Technology

There are no less than 9 different technologies developed for 3D printing. Printing Atom’s review on the best printers has all types of 3D printing technology listed, however, we are just going to briefly explain the most common 3 types. These are:

FDM – Fused Deposition Modeling

Fused deposition modelling (FDM) is very commonly used in private homes for 3D printing with plastic. It is sometimes known as fused filament fabrication (FFF) due to the way the process works. This kind of 3D printer works by pushing a plastic filament layer-by-layer onto a build platform. This means it is very quick and cheap but can result in rough finishes and products that are not very strong.

SLA – Stereolithography

Stereolithography(SLA) is the original 3D printing process. It uses a laser beam controlled by a computer to draw layers of a designed part, usually creating the support structures first, before moving on to the part itself. The laser beam interacts with a liquid thermoset resin to create each layer of your design. Once one layer is complete, the platform shifts down a level and moves to apply the next layer of resin, repeating each layer until the full design is complete. It creates very detailed, strong, and smooth-surfaced finishes.

SLS – Selective Laser Sintering

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) printers work slightly differently. By melting together two nylon-based powders into a solid plastic as they print, they create durable finishes. They fall somewhere in between SLA and FDM printers as far as finish goes as they create rougher finishes. But, what they may lack in finish, they make up for in durability and strength. These are great for prototyping designs and testing parts.

What Do You Want To Print?

So, now that you’ve understood a little about the three main types of desktop 3D printer, it’s time to figure out which suits you. The first and most important question is; do you know what you want to print? As you can see, there are positives and negatives to each. FDM is much faster but produces rougher and less durable products, while SLS and SLA take longer but increase in durability and finish.

If you plan on printing models or other non-functional parts, maybe FDM is the correct printing process for you. If you are planning on designing parts with more functional purposes, you’d have to consider a more robust 3D printing technology. Some printers will be better for large scale output You may find a different 3d printer for tabletop miniatures.

If you are simply a hobbyist, we recommend you stick to FDM for starters. Knowing what you want to print will inform most of your decision regarding 3D printers.

Open or Closed Frame?

As you may have guessed, 3D printers come in both open and enclosed designs. There are pros and cons to both which can have a big influence on what type you go for. Firstly, let’s discuss enclosed/closed frame printers. One big decider for home printers may be style, and many argue that enclosed printers look much neater than their open counterparts. They can also be much quieter and also produce slightly neater products due to the enclosure keeping drafts or dust out of the printing nozzle. On the flip side, many people prefer an open printer for a few reasons. Firstly, as it is open, you will be able to clearly see the printer’s progress and keep tabs on how your design is coming along. It is also arguably easier to keep clean and work on the printer as it is in action, as well as easier to perform maintenance and upgrades.

Price

It is also worth considering the price. FDM printers can start at a much cheaper value than SLA and SLS, with SLS occupying the highest price point on the scale. FDM and SLA both start quite affordable, so are generally considered good starter printers. Again, it truly depends on what you’d like to print, and how often.

You should now be armed with all the knowledge you need to decide which 3D printer to buy. It’s an enjoyable experience designing in 3D and watching your products come to life. We hope you find a printer you love.

High-Tech Solutions Every Architecture Firm Will Benefit From

Modern tools provided through digital solutions have become more prevalent and popular. These include machine learning and artificial intelligence to work with fabrication technologies and Big Data. Its impact on our daily lives has captured the interest of various firms regardless of size and scope. The digital aspect of construction is being utilized in every infrastructure and communications technology.

Here are some useful high-tech solutions used by every architecture firm:

Modernization of Prefabrication

From 3D printed models to precision-made construction materials, digital fabrication has made some headway in the architectural industry to create precision products and prototypes at an improved pace along with the versatility to accommodate changes. And it is through the high technological innovations such as precise laser engraving and CNC cutting that has become possible to realize even the most sophisticated design ideas. Because it’s driven by sophisticated software solutions, it is now relatively easy to create high-quality designs using various materials, which could have been tedious and costly if done manually.

When coupled with advanced virtual reality design models, prefabrication has evolved in its quality and precision. This reduces the variability of the project and allows for better control of resources. The modern technologies that are available off-site have compensated for the shortage of skilled workers on-site. Production plants also have a controlled environment specifically configured to optimize the manufacturing and assembly of the required components. This allows for better checks and reviews to improve quality control as well as maintain the safety of all the workers involved. 

Modern production control methods use RFID tracking to control supply chains of prefabricated materials. With tracking devices attached to every component, it makes it easy for them to streamline the process and effectively coordinate with other processes. Modern designers can benefit from this technology in reducing waste regardless if it’s a housing project or a major infrastructure endeavor.

Sustainable Technologies

Today, going green is the only way to be a responsible member of the architectural industry. Using sustainable methods means reducing your negative impact on the environment from the building perspective. But how does it benefit a firm? On the business side, with the widespread awareness of climate change, consumers have begun to tag and criticize irresponsible business practices while praising and endorsing those who are mindful of the environment. 

Designers consider different aspects of the structure and its surroundings as well as its process to come up with a sustainable strategy. Some of the things taken into account include:

Active and Passive Sustainable Designs

Architects and engineers use efficient electrical, HVAC, plumbing, and other systems to reduce the project’s environmental footprint. Passive methods make use of the surroundings like climate and sun orientation when considering window placements and how to manage sunlight and natural ventilation. This reduces the need for electricity for the HVAC and lighting. In certain places, they use thermal mass techniques which use solar energy by incorporating thick walls to absorb heat during the day to provide heating during the night.

Renewable Energy Systems

The use of solar energy has recently become more popular because of the advancement in producing affordable solar cells to convert light into energy. Buildings and houses integrated with systems that harness solar or wind energy have become more common as designers and consumers recognize the value of renewable energy.

Green Building Materials

The use of recycled materials is not only environmentally friendly but is also cost-effective. Architecture firms make it a priority to source raw materials as well as prefabricated components from vendors that are environmentally responsible to ante up their sustainable strategy.

Virtual Reality and 3D Printing

For many decades, Computer-Aided Designs (CAD) have become pervasive in architecture stemming from other industries such as shipbuilding, aeronautics, and automobiles. It changed traditional techniques as designers can now create complex 3D designs as opposed to a 2D representation. However technology did not stop there, nowadays, many architecture firms use augmented reality or virtual reality. This transformed designs from being visual to achieve a sense of being physically performative. 

Simulations allow architects to embody temporality, fluidity, change, and motions consequently influencing people’s interaction with their surroundings. From the initial concept of the building to the last finishing touches, virtual reality lends itself to provide an architectural experience to the user. During the design stage of the project, it allows clients to explore the structure far better than a 2D image, they can take a closer look at each corner of each floor and request changes prior to its implementation. Firms can invest in Virtual Reality and make a great impression on clients as they make real-time changes to accommodate their requests.

Although 3D printing technology has been around since the 1980s, it wasn’t until the last decade that it has become more accessible and affordable. 3D printing saves time in making models in two ways: it can virtually create unlimited copies of an object and revisions are easily done through its programming software. 

The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things refers to a concept of connectivity, this particularly involves connecting basic or “dumb” things to the internet. You may have Alexa or any other smart devices in your homes like your thermostats, video doorbells, and coffee makers but designers are taking this concept to drive changes in the design and construction ecosystem.

Building Information Modelling (BIM)

BIM generates a model of the building and sorts out all of the plans. This enables different building plans to be updated simultaneously. By installing sensors into the building to read energy usage, foot traffic, temperature trends, and more, designers will be able to make the right adjustments or improve on future plans.

Green Systems

Humans tend to forget a lot of things and one of them is to turn off the lights when you leave the room. Through IoT, a designer can reduce the building’s energy consumption and CO2 emission without relying on the people.

Technology generally pulls other technologies forward. With the advancement of modern applications to provide better solutions, the building industry can benefit from these developments to take the business to the future. As architecture proceeds to make a physical and socioeconomic impact on the people around them, they have taken a deeper look into the digital solutions and advanced methods to cater to the demands of today’s market.