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An overview of 3D printing technologies

Four Different 3D Printers

3D printing has been taking leaps in development, since starting its journey from the early stages of the 1950s to the first properly working prototypes in the 1970s.

That journey hasn’t been all smooth, but for what it’s worth, there are many patented  3D printing technologies that propelled this art to a whole new level. They all use 3D printer software to create the model for printing. Let’s go over those technologies and see how they work. 

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)

FDM printers are widely available on the market. If you are looking for a 3D printer for your home, this is the one to get. FDM printers are built on the principle of material extrusion. This 3D printing technology entails a thermoplastic filament that is fed to a heating nozzle. 

The latter melts the filament and then deposits it onto a platform, according to the model designed on the 3D printing software. The nozzle is supported by a rigid frame that allows the nozzle to move along smoothly and deposit the filament without delays. 

Most popular filaments for FDM printers include ABS, PLA, PET, PVA, wood filament, etc. 

FDM printers are the cheapest out there and can be used as a great learning tool for both adults and children. They are relatively easy to use and produce great results. So it’s the best 3D printer type for educational environments and for home. 

Vat Polymerization

This is a general principle of 3D printing that includes a few technologies: Stereolithography (SLA) printing, Masked Stereolithography (MSLA), and Digital Light Processing (DLP). We’ll discuss their differences in a minute, but first, let’s see what unites them as different branches of the same general principle. 

If FDM Printing melts the filament and deposits it on a platform to build the model layer by layer, the process of Vat polymerization uses photosensitive resin in a vat and a light that selectively cures, or transforms the resin, making it solid. 

Stereolithography (SLA)

As we’ve mentioned already, a Stereolithography 3D printer uses photopolymer resin. SLA printers use a system of mirrors situated on the x and y axes. They reflect the UV laser, which selectively ‘solidifies’, or cures the resin. 

The platform is situated on the surface of the liquid resin and gradually rises, as the model builds up. By the end of the stereolithography process, you will have the platform and the complete model underneath it built up-side-down. 

Masked Stereolithography (MSLA)

The process of MSLA printing uses a LED array to cure the resin. It shines the UV light through an LCD screen, which displays the layer slice like a mask. 

This is where the process got the name. Naturally, the displayed layer is composed of pixels. Thus the pixel size is crucial for the granularity of the print. 

Digital Light Processing (DLP)

As a part of the same group of vat polymerization techniques, DLP also uses light to cure photopolymer resin. It is very similar to SLA printing but with a few differences. DLP printing uses a digital light projector to flash the whole layer of the model at once. This way, as the layer is flashed all at once, there’s no need to cure the resin by making pinpoint flashes on the cross-sections. 

Powder Bed Printing (PBP) 

Powder bed printing (PBP) is a process where a thermal energy source selectively fuses powder particles to create a solid object. It uses thermoplastic powders as 3D printing materials and it’s capable of achieving quite sophisticated geometric objects with excellent mechanical properties. 

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)

This is one of the printing processes that uses the general principle of Powder Bed Fusion. For SLS printing, a bed of thermoplastic powder is heated to a temperature just below the melting point. The recoating blade deposits a thin layer of powder, then a laser fuses the particles selectively to create the next layer. After each layer is scanned, the blade will again deposit some fresh powder for fusing the next layer. Each step of the process is repeated until the full object is manufactured. 

Selective Laser Melting (SLM) and Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS)

Powder bed printing is also possible for metals, which Selective laser melting is all about. The process is much like SLS, but if SLS uses thermoplastic powder as material, SLM uses metal. DMLS doesn’t actually melt the metal particles. It heats them up to the point where changes can happen on a molecular level. SLM, on the other hand, melts the powder completely with a laser, to fuse the metal powder and create a homogenous model. PArts created through SLM and DMLS are later heat-treated for durability. 

Electron Beam Melting (EBM)

This technology is different from other powder bed printing techniques. It uses a high-energy electron beam to induce fusion between the metal powder particles. Compared to SLM and DMLS, EBM creates models at a higher speed. EBM creates parts in a vacuum, and the process can only be used with conductive materials.  

Material Jetting (MJ)

This is a way of 3D printing, where drops of material are deposited on the build platform and then cured on the spot. The material is either photopolymer or wax, both of which cure when exposed to light. A standard inkjet printer delivers the ink in a single layer. MJ printers do the same in multiple layers built upon each other. 

The most notable advantage of this type of printing is speed. Plus, it can produce multiple objects at the same time, as long as they are spaced and lined correctly.

Drop on Demand (DOD)

DOD technology uses two inkjets simultaneously. One is for the build material itself, which is much like wax in its properties. The second inkjet is for the support material, which is dissolvable. To ensure a perfectly flat surface, the DOD technology uses a fly-cutter that flattens the surface after each layer is deposited. 

Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM)

During LOM Printing, layers of adhesive-coated paper, plastic, or metal are glued to each other. Then a laser cutter or a knife cuts the final model out of those layers. While it’s not the most popular method of 3D printing today, it is surely one of the most affordable techniques. 

The list above is a general guide to 3D printing techniques, no if you want to learn more about each of them, hopefully now you’ll feel more confident to do so. 3D printing is a rapidly expanding and developing technology that has lots more in store for us! 

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Origin and History of the 3D printing industry

3D Printed Colorful Object

What is 3D printing, and where did it come from? It might seem to have just appeared out of thin air for the younger generation, but it was a result of hard work and dedication. Today the market is full of different 3D printer models. Looking for a cheap 3D printer? You got it. Maybe you need the best 3D printer out there? That’s possible to arrange as well. But this technology wasn’t as easily accessible in the past. It was developed by engineers, scientists, and enthusiasts throughout several decades of research and progressive thinking. Let’s take a journey through the history of this phenomenon and see how it all began. 

1981-1999: The Infancy of Additive Manufacturing

The roots of a 3D printer lie in a process called additive manufacturing (AM). The name speaks for itself, doesn’t it? Additive manufacturing is a process of creating a certain shape by adding thin layers of material in designated places until the whole shape is complete. 

The idea of such a process being possible tickled the engineering minds in the 1950s, although it didn’t bring any substantial results at the time. Naturally, what’s significant about that period, is believing something like additive manufacturing could actually work. 

In the 1970s, a machine called Liquid Metal Recorder was patented, which is believed to be the first device resembling a 3D printer. It actually worked on additive manufacturing, followed prototypes and used an on-demand pattern manufacturing technique.

Not long after, in the 1980s, Japanese, US and French engineers were already creating prototypes that were undergoing testing, and some of them had a real shot at working. But these devices were nothing like we have today. They were big, bulky and very expensive. Owning a 3D printer could add up to something north of £ 300,000. 

The first-ever patent for a 3D printer was registered in the US in 1984. That year began the rapid development of yet another technological leap.

Another important landmark is 1992, when the patent for Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technology was issued to Stratasys. 

1999 – 2010: The Adolescent History of 3D Printing

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, 3D printing mostly developed along with computer technologies that started to develop faster than before. Now suddenly, there was software that could support all of the wild dreams of printing enthusiasts! 

European EOS GmbH was the one to create EOS “Stereos” software for industrial prototyping. In other words, they started developing the 3D printing software that was used for a long time after that.  

At the time, 3D printing was quite pricey and not widely accessible to everyone. Usually, 3D printing involved people who were in the manufacturing industry and programmers or developers who knew the software well and were creating 3D printer designs. But then slowly, 3D printing took off as an industry and got more and more substantial, slowly starting to replace machinery and entering our schools, universities, and, why not, living rooms and basements. 

2010 – Present day. 3D printing in its prime

In the 2010s, the use of 3D printing or additive manufacturing became so diverse that it affects literally all the key aspects of our lives, from medicine to the automotive industry. All the major markets in the world offer a 3D printer, from home models to professional and construction printers. If you are looking for a 3D printer UK market has to offer, you won’t be disappointed. There are plenty of options out there for every taste and pocket. Even if you’re looking for the best 3D printer UK market can surely accommodate those needs as well. 

Anyone interested in the process and the results can purchase a 3D printer kit that comes with 3D printer software and filament and go off exploring the delightful world of additive manufacturing. 

Nowadays, there are many different 3D printing technologies around, which differ by 3D printing materials and overall technology. The most widespread of them is the FDM printer. Desktop versions of FDM printers mostly work with different kinds of plastic as 3D printer filament, that is fed to a nozzle, melted and then deposited on a platform layer by layer, bringing the prototype to life. There are also other systems like the SLA printers (second popular), which involve a pool of photopolymer resin. That resin is “cured” by a UV laser, creating the desired shape. There are many others as well, but the two listed above are the most widespread. Now that you have the printer, you’ll sure need a file to print!

Before the last decade, the prototypes available for 3D printing were scarce, but as 3D printing became more and more mainstream, hundreds of online libraries offer 3D printer files ready for purchase and print. Lots of libraries, although more limited, are free of charge. So even if you’re not particularly savvy in design software and computer technologies, you can still have all the fun of 3D printing and make toys, household items and anything else you might need. 

Today 3D printing has entered an interesting phase, where it’s very diverse in technology and implications. Throughout the last decade, 3D printing has rediscovered itself in interesting sectors such as construction and medicine. Construction 3D printing is a promising field that can help solve the housing crisis by building affordable and sturdy homes for families in dire need of shelter. In the medical field, 3D printing is creating customised prosthetics and dentures that are created on-demand and fit each individual perfectly. Bioprinting is also an exciting field with lots of mind-blowing possibilities that will very possibly change the way we think about transplants and organ donation. 

We all benefit from 3D printing technology in one way or another. Even if we don’t have the device itself in our homes, the progress is not happening “out there”. It’s happening right here, and we better be ready for it. 

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Benefits of 3D printing

Boy Exploring a 3D Printed Object

3D printing is taking the world by storm and rapidly growing in usage and in volume too. But what is 3D printing?  It is a unique process of additive manufacturing that adds layer upon layer of material according to a previously designed prototype. 

We’ll talk more about different components of 3D printing as we go along, but let’s discuss the benefits this amazing technology has brought and how it has the potential to revolutionise manufacturing.  

Speed

3D printing offers a speedy solution in many types of manufacturing. Probably the most evident example of this is 3D printing in construction. When it comes to construction 3D printing UK is not the leading country on this front. Japan and China are offering many devices and solutions at the moment that will benefit the world. 

These construction printers are able to build a small housing unit in a few day’s time, which is unprecedented and can help solve the housing crisis in many countries. 

Cost

The advantages of 3D printing are versatile and the low cost is definitely one of them. As a one-step process, it requires less time to produce a single unit than a production line, thus saving both maintenance costs and eliminating the human factor. 

Cost-effective solutions are often what holds many people back from achieving their goals. One 3D printer is much more cost-effective than a whole production line. Yes, you pay for the printer, and yes, you pay for the 3D printer filament and utilities such as electricity, but these costs don’t stand close to what a production line might add up to. 

Flexibility

What limits a standard manufacturing production line? You have to have a machine that is capable of producing the part you need and make exact copies of it, right? 

Well, these machines need adjusting, which can be a pain and you might not end up with what you initially intended. When it comes to 3D printing, making adjustments is much easier, because you’re dealing with 3D printing software and not machinery. 

The whole production system is much more flexible as a result. You make adjustments in the software and get the desired result. If it’s still not what you need. Tweak the design a bit more. In the end, the perfect result is much more accessible. 

The limit is only your imagination. If you master the 3D printing design software, it’s hard to put a limit on what you can do with it. 

And even if you need something standard, there are plenty of print-ready 3D printing designs online that are accessible to anyone interested. 

Quality 

Quality in 3D printing highly depends on the grade of the device and the filaments used. The smallest cheapest models might not give the desired effect when it comes to detail, but a professional-grade printer armed with high-quality 3D printing materials can produce amazing results. 

When it comes to manufacturing, smooth surfaces and sturdy construction are a must. A 3D printer is able to achieve that with every print without fail.  

Consistency

The key aspect in 3D printer consistency is again the 3D printing software. If the design is executed perfectly, the outcome will be the same every time. You can eliminate the percentage of defective outcomes, as there are none. 

A 3D printer produces consistent results. Plus, it needs minimal maintenance along the way. Just make sure there’s no power shortage and sufficient filament. Consistency is one of the 3D printing advantages in different fields. From car part production to construction. The results are quick, cost-efficient and consistent. 

Risk reduction

A production line poses risks for the maintenance crew. People lose fingers and limbs in machines all the time. No matter how safe the machine is, accidents still happen. 3D printing eliminates those risks and produces the needed details in a safe and risk-free way. 

The only risk when it comes to 3D printing is the hot nozzle that is not a good idea to touch with your bare hands. In all other aspects, accidents will not happen. If there’s a need for maintenance or fixing, make sure the device had some time to cool down. 

Also, if you’re printing something big, there’s a risk of a power outage causing you to start over. However, all the modern 3D printers are equipped with a special feature, that allows them to pick up where they left off, instead of starting all over and losing all the effort. 

Accessibility

Most of us don’t have access to fancy machines and massive production. So if we need to replace a broken clip on the bike helmet, or have a comfortable car holder for the phone, we go to the store and buy it. 

So what if they don’t have what we need? That’s where it gets tough. As consumers, we have to either conform to what is offered to us by manufacturers or find another way to alter the merch offered.  3D printing offers a whole other approach. 

Never before has manufacturing been accessible to the general public. But it is now. All you need is a computer that can support 3D printer software, a 3D printer, and an idea. Then you’re good to go! 

If you need a 3D printer UK has lots of options to offer. From table-top models to professional large devices. The best 3D printing software is also available to the public. It is not free, but it is accessible. 

Sustainability 

The 20th century, with its industrial revolution and the wide use of plastic, has devastated our planet and continue to do so throughout the beginning of the 21st century. We are just waking up to what we have done and now try to reverse the damage. 

What better way to do that than to start reusing plastic? Some 3D printing filaments are even biodegradable. 3D printing is all about reusing, and doing it efficiently, and in a sustainable way. 

Customization

The customization feature of 3D printing is probably easiest to illustrate on the example of prosthetics manufacturing. 3D printing has brought medicine a lot of benefits, and especially when it comes to prosthetics. They are very individual and have to be calculated very precisely. 

That’s exactly what 3D printing helps us achieve. Each prosthetic and denture are unique, and each print can be adjusted to the future owner. Plus, these prosthetics are still lower in costs than the ones manufactured in a conventional way and are less time-consuming.  

Win-win for manufacturers and clients alike. 

Economic growth

Because of all the reasons listed above, economic growth will follow as a result. 3D printing is truly sustainable, efficient and consistent. 

That means low costs for production, low risks and a less time-consuming process. With less input, manufacturers can gain higher profits and grow. 
By now you hopefully have an answer to the question of how does 3D printing work, and how is it different from other types of manufacturing. As you can see it carries a lot of benefits, that could save us time, effort, budget and still give us excellent results. The future of 3D printing is surely prosperous, but it’s our job to make that happen.

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3D Printing Guide for Beginners

3D Printed Colorful Object

In this article, you will learn anything you need to know about 3D printing from history to technology. Plus you will learn what 3D printers are used for and what you can make with them at home. 

Introduction 

3D printing is a fairly new technology and idea, but it has already heavily infiltrated our lives and the industrial world. From aviation and automotive to clothes and home design – there are lots of things that are created using this very technology. 

There are a lot of reasons why it has found such widespread use. With a 3D printer, the manufacturing is much faster, sometimes cheaper. Plus it helps to eliminate huge machines and automate some processes that were heavily reliant on humans. 

But what is a 3D printer and how a person can use it at home? Why would anyone even want to get such a complicated piece of what seems, like a machine from the future? 

Let us walk you through the process, starting from the very beginning. 

Origin and History of 3D Printing Industry

Let’s start from the very beginning, what is a 3D printer? 

Additive manufacturing or 3D printing is the process of creating multidimensional objects from a digital 3D model or a CAD model.  

It was first introduced quite recently in terms of historical timelines, only 40 years ago. The first 3D printer was built in the early 1980s, whereas the concept of this technology was first introduced a few years earlier. 

The first-ever 3D printer was built in 1983 by Chuck Hull which used a UV laser to build object layer after layer out of liquid raisin. This method is known as Stereolithography or simply SLA. 

In the following years, many various technologies were created in order to help people with different needs, using a wide variety of materials. 

Benefits of 3D Printing

This technology has very significant and in some cases, revolutionary benefits that it can bring to big companies across many fields as well as to those who are just starting their business. 

3D printing is widely used not only in prototyping but also in full production lines of many manufacturing businesses. Some are also switching to 3D technology from the traditional means of production. 

Here is the list of the main benefits from the latest 3D printing technology:

  • Cost Reduction – probably the most important benefit when it comes to profitability, as you can still meet all your objectives and demands, but at a lower cost.
  • Various Materials – there is a wide variety of different materials that can be used in 3D printing technology, and the list of those materials is rapidly growing. Plus you can experiment and test different materials for innovation purposes. 
  • On-Demand Manufacturing – you can create a different product when they are needed, instead of overloading your warehouses. 
  • Fast Production – Traditional production methods take a long time to set up. However, the best 3D printing technology takes much less time. Plus the production process is much faster, and the bugs are much easier to detect and fix.
  • Idea- Prototype – The development of an idea into a prototype used to take ages, now it’s much quicker, and bugs can be fixed along the way. Sometimes it takes a ready product to see flaws in the design, which are much easier to fix in the digital model and try again.  

The whole idea behind using 3D printing technology for business is that you are able to create a new and quality product faster than your competitors. With this technology, the time between idea, design and testing is much shorter, the process is much cheaper, and the flaws are easily detectable and fixable. 

That’s the main reason why more and more companies are choosing to switch over to this method – in order to survive and get ahead in the times of fierce competition in the high-tech world of today.  

3D Printing Technology

As we have already mentioned, there are many different methods or technologies used in 3D printing that can help you accomplish different goals, use different printing methods and materials and are vary in their printing speeds. 

Refer to the list below to see them all and know which ones are best for your needs: 

  • Stereolithography (SLA)

As stated above, this one is the oldest method of 3D printing technology and is uses a liquid resin that is hardened by the UV ray into the desired shape layer by layer. 

  • Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)

This method is most commonly used for commercial production and 3D printers for the general public. In here a plastic filament builds the object on a heatbed, while it gets heated and goes out through an extruder.

  • Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)

This method is much like SLA but uses different material. Here, the material is in a powder form, and a laser sinters it layer by layer into the designed shape. 

  • Selective Laser Melting (SLM)

Here, instead of sintering the powdered material, a laser melts it all the way, in order to shape the needed design. 

  • Digital Light Processing (DLP)

This technology is very much alike the SLA, with one very big difference – the source of light. Unlike the laser used in SLA, here we have a projector, and mirrors control its trajectory.   

  • Electronic Beam Melting (EBM)

This technology is very similar to SLM with a significant difference in the source of heat – the EBM uses an electron beam instead of a laser, as used in SLM, to melt the materials. It’s important to note that both technologies have enough power to melt even powdered metal. 

  • Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM)

Here the layers of material are fused together, each of them coated in the adhesive with heat and pressure. Then the object is cut into a designed shape with a knife or laser. This method makes 3D printing a very rapid process. 

3D Printing Process

As we talked about the different technologies, it’s no doubt hard to understand for those people who are far from engineering and manufacturing and were looking to get a 3D printer for their kids on Christmas. Of course, all the technologies mentioned above are mostly for production purposes. However, the process of creating an object with a 3D printer is very much the same whether you need to use it to print car parts or a vase for your livingroom. 

Here are the main 3 steps that you need to take to create an object using a 3D printer: 

  1. Design – Here, you need to design your object and transfer it into a CAD format, so the printer can then use it to print the object. The software is widely available both in paid and free formats, and some are even there for you to work online through a website. 
  2. Printing – Here, you need to feed the digital design to the 3D printer and choose the materials you want to use to print the object. There is a wide variety of different ones, from plastics to ceramics, metal and wood. 
  3. Polishing – This is the final step in the process of 3D printing. As soon as your object is printed, now you need to test it and polish before you can present it to anyone – your family or clients, what have you. Here you can either paint, sand or give other finishing touches to your product. 

3D Printers and Types

Above, we have talked in length about the different printing technologies, and there are as many different types of 3D printers, as there are different technologies. 

Different ones are used for different things, in a variety of industries, as each uses a method and material beneficial and applicable for one or another industry. 

For example, EMB technology is widely used in manufacturing biomedical prosthetics and light-weight components for space shuttles aerospace industry. But it will hardly be used in manufacturing clothes or footwear. 

The most common in-home 3D printers are the FDM one, as it’s the most simple, is compatible with a variety of filaments, it pretty straightforward in use and won’t cost you a fortune to purchase. 

Plus, it’s more or less safe to have around children, of course with adult supervision only, and won’t take up too much space on your desk or in the garage. 

SLA printers the second most popular 3D printers for homes and classrooms. However, here you are more constricted in the matter of how big of an object you can make, by the size of the printer itself, and you need to operate it in a very well ventilated space, or outside, as the 3D printer will emit a bit of odour while printing. 

3D Modelling Process

When it comes to modelling, there are a lot of ready to go models available online. There are many libraries, where you can sign up and download as much design as you want for your 3D printer. 

In case you want to create your own, then you need to go through some steps to make sure your design doesn’t have flaws, and you can have int he needed format for the 3D printer to be able to read it and then print the object. 

  • Create a 2D model of the object (digital or otherwise)
  • Extract a 3D model form a 2D file
  • Prepare the model 
  • Export it in a 3D format to use it later on in 3D software
  • Scale and adjust the design in 3D software
  • Download the ready model to feed it to the 3D printer.

Above is the overview of what you need to do to create a 3D model of your choice, in case nothing that is available online is not a suitable option for you.  

3D Printing Accessories: Filament and 3D Pen

As we have mentioned earlier, there are lots of materials used in 3D printing, wich his called filament in other words. 

There are the most common plastic ones – ABS, PLA, PVA, HIPS, PETG, TPE/TPU/TPC, Nylon and much more. You can create anything you want from Legos to shows and gloves. 

There are also some not so common filaments, like wood, metal, wax, ceramics and such. These are more expensive and harder to get, plus, not all machines are compatible with such filaments. Before purchasing a 3D printer, be sure to investigate what kinds of filaments you can use with it, and how much they cost.  

Some of these plastics are food safe, like PLA, PP, Nylon-6 and PET, as well as some brands of ABS. However, in case you need to put them into a dishwasher, do not print anything with PLA, PET and Nylon, as they soften in high temperatures. 

The cost of these filaments also varies, the eco-friendly and food and child safe ones are naturally on the higher end of the spectrum, but the average price would be about £20 per kg.

In case you want to test out how you feel about a 3D printer in your home or want to make a relatively inexpensive gift for your kid, who might get tired of a 3D printer anyway, a 3D pen might be your best choice!  

It’s a small device that will 3D print writings, small objects and is very easy in use. Even your 10-year-old will have loads of fun making school projects with it, and maybe even create fun objects for you and your family, like coasters, magnets and so on. 

3D Printing Apps

There is a lot of both paid and free software available for 3D printing, as grew more in popularity.

Moreover, there are also a lot of apps, that will help you master the 3D printing process and make it easier and more fun. 

There are a lot of them that are both available for Android and iOS, and some that are only for one or the other. 

The most popular one of them would be the Tinkerplay, which gives clear and easy instructions to follow to create the 3D model. Plus it’s UI is very intuitive with lifelike simulations. 

Other famous ones include Blokify, MakerBot Mobile, Thingiverse, Morphy and Autodesk 123D. 

Applications of 3D Printing

As we have mentioned before, 3D printing has become popular with industries, much sooner than it began to be accessible and available for household use. 

There are many industries that have been using 3D technology to create an easier or maybe cheaper manufacturing line and automating their processes. 

Here are the most common uses of 3D technology in manufacturing by industries. 

Architecture & Construction 

Back in the olden days, architects used to create their models of the cardboard, paint them and maybe even make it a family pastime. 

However, today all that’s behind us, with a 3D printer at hand. The process is much faster and efficient. Plus, no more arts and craft supplies clotting the office or the home office. 

However, 3D printing technology has gone way further than just being a handy model building equipment. It might sound as something futuristic, but there are building now being built with 3D technology. 

The first commercial 3D printed construction was a pedestrian bridge over the stream in the Park of Madrid, that opened to the public in late 2016. 

Less than a year later, the first 3D printed building was built in 2017 in Copenhagen, Denmark.  At the moment the biggest 3D printed building, that is registered in the Guinness Book of World Records, which is 9.5 meters tall and has a space of 640 square meters.  

Automotive 

The automotive industry, just as much as any other, has adopted the 3D technology and has been using it for some time now. As 3D printing doesn’t only mean plastic, but metal too, there have been many items produced in this manner from end-use parts and spares to fixtures and tools.

Plus, this technology has given an opportunity to put the warehouses and stocking problems behind, as on-demand manufacturing is a primary source of such items. In case you need an item, you make it, if not, then don’t. 

With the rise of electric cars and motorcycles, additive manufacturing has become a huge part of their production. There are even some that are fully 3D printed. For example, the use of 3D printing technology in the manufacturing of BigRep’s electric motorcycles has reduced their production line to 12 weeks. 

Aerospace & Aviation 

As we see Elon Musk building spaceships that can return safely to Earth and be reused, it would be silly to assume that one of the greatest visionaries of the modern day doesn’t use a new technology that can do so much more than traditional manufacturing, at the same time reducing costs and introducing new materials.  

#d printing made it possible to introduce new materials that are reducing weight and at the same time are increasing their durability. These materials are widely used in both aerospace and automotive industries to create parts of the aerocrafts like fuel nozzles and some inside parts.  

Plus, there are currently rocket engines and parts are being partially and sometimes fully build using 3D technology. As the benefits of additive manufacturing are undeniable, the industry welcomes the possibility of less material waste, higher production speed and better products as an outcome. 

There are also some “crazy” ideas floating, like those that propose a self-replicating 3D printers that can even process soil on the Moon. This, of course, would make the colonisation and exploration of the moon very efficient, but as of today remain a very bold idea from the researchers of the University of Ottowa. We will probably see something similar being developed soon enough, the 3D printing software and technology has made a huge leap of advancement in the past few years. 

Racing 

When it comes to racing, even the millisecond can make a huge difference in determining the winner. Thus, 3D printing can come in very handy in order to create the best car on the track, by making the parts of the car more durable and lighter at the same time with innovative materials, and as a consequence providing it with greater speed. 

There are also advantages for racers when the speed of wheel changing is increased, and that’s also when additive manufacturing can come in handy, creating tools necessary for a quicker process. 

Medical 

The medical industry has been one of the first ones to embrace 3D printing technology. There are so many different applications here that it’s hard to name them all. 

First and foremost, additive manufacturing has revolutionised the dental industry. From nightguards and aligners to fixing broken teeth and floss assistance – there is nothing that 3D printing can’t help you with. It also helps with creating a mould for further carvings of the ceramic crown or creating dentures. 3D printing has sped up this process, making it much cheaper. 

3D printing has also revolutionised the manufacturing of prosthetics, using much lighter and durable materials. Anything from hearing aids to a prosthetic hand or foot – you name it, 3D printer will make it. 

Moreover, additive manufacturing has been a great aid in creating eyewear from new materials, that can bend and not break, proving patients with the longevity of the glasses and the convenience not having to change them so often or be very gentle with them.

Another application of 3D printing technology in the future may be donor organ 3D printing. The idea is to take a tissue sample and create a fully functional organ using additive manufacturing. This technology is being developed as we speak, so it can soon be our reality. 

Jewellery 

This industry has also been very fond of 3D printing, as it’s used to create the designs and moulds for further carving it from the metal. The 3D prototyping has made the mass production of jewellery much more efficient and rapid. 

Most common materials used for designers within jewellery is metal. 3D Printing materialises the following materials to develop its products: Brass (Gold, colour and PU plating), Silver (Gloss and high gloss, satin, sandblasted and antique) and Gold (14k or 18k and polishing). 

Consumer Products 

Nowadays, we can find more and more products being 3D printed for mass production. Such things include clothes, footwear, eyewear, jewellery, accessories. The list goes on and on. 

There are many famous brands such as Adidas, that is now mass producing sneakers that have been 3D printed using recycled plastic. 

There are also items of home decor, like reproductions of famous paintings, that you can purchase for your home that were 3D printed. They not only give you the image but also texture, making them the most realistic reproductions. 

3D Printing In Education And At Home

It is undeniable that the future has a lot in store for us when it comes to using 3D printing technology. Thus, we need professionals that understand this technology, know how to operate it and are able to develop it further to accommodate the needs of tomorrow. 

Hence, it’s very important to introduce this piece of technology in the classrooms and get the kids and students excited and interested in it. It is also crucial to teach them how to use it and all the much needed and potential applications of it. 

In medical and science faculties of universities, a 3D printer should be an inseparable part of their learning process, as that’s the equipment that they will use in their everyday work tomorrow. 

You can also get a 3D printer for your home, in case you are into technology and want to get your kids fired up about it too. There are many items of home decor you can make with it like vases, keychains, picture frames, toys, oven mitts and so on. 

There are really no limits to the imagination when it comes to the minds of our children, and what they want to make to play with. 

If your kids are crafty and like to make things on their own, then a 3D printer at home can be a valuable asset for their development and a great tool to make personalised presents and toys for the whole family. 

Why You Should Choose 3D Printer World

As you can see, 3D printing is an amazing piece of technology, that is now available for us at home, and we should no doubt teach our kids the new tech as soon as possible, as it’s going to be even more widespread and popular in the future. 

There are many different shops you can purchase a 3D printer for home, but here are some reasons why you should choose us. 

We put our clients in the centre of all our activities and guarantee 100% satisfaction every time you shop with us. 

3D Printer World is a specialised 3D printer shop UK market has to offer and is one of the best ones out there with a set of great services to go with the wide selection of high-quality 3D printers and best prices. 

We offer free delivery around the UK, as well as a warranty on all of our machines. We also got your back with 24-hour customer support and 30-day money-back guarantee, that just shows how customer-centric our company really is. 

Plus our very user-friendly website and easy navigation interface will make a shopping experience pleasant and stress-free.

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Best Budget 3D Printer Under £500

Four Different 3D Printers

Introduction

You have probably heard of this really cool new piece of technology called 3D printers. 

Also, you are likely to think it’s an expensive machine that is used by professionals and is out of the reach of an everyday person. 

Let us tell you – 3D printers are for everybody! 

There are lots of different kids out there, and in this article, we will discuss and present you the best budget 3D printers UK has to offer. 

That’s right, all of these will be just under £500.

How much does a 3D printer cost?

This is the question and answer which may surprise many people who are not up to speed with modern technology. 

Let’s start with the use of 3D printers. 

There are professional grid ones that are used in such industries as aerospace, automotive, mainstream production. 

3D technology really infiltrated and reshaped our understanding of technology and its limits. 

We can do things with 3D technology that were considered something of a science fiction not more than 30 years ago.

There are machines now that can print metal, fused and mixed materials, clay, and of course the traditional plastic, which you also have many kids of. 

So what are the 3D printer prices? 

Those professional and high-efficiency printers, of course, cost a lot of money. You are looking to pay anything from £5.000 – £10.000. 

However, those are not the focus of our topic today. 

There are also a lot of machines available out there for those of you, who are tech geeks, tech enthusiasts, or simply need something small to modernise your operations. 

Those kinds are much smaller in size, have limited capabilities, and the prices reflect that. 

When looking for a cheap 3D printer, you can expect to pay something from £100 – £500. 

Those also include DIY models. They are great in the sense that you get to build it yourself, giving you more profound knowledge and understanding of how everything works. 

If you are not planning to print a house for yourself, and looking for something small, here are the best models in the range of affordable 3D printers.  

Best budget 3D printers

As we have mentioned before, a cheap 3D printer can be easily found. The important thing is knowing what you want it for, thus comes the choice of different ones.  

Below we will present you with our picks of the best 3D printers under 500.

BIQU Magician

BIQU Magician 3D printer is an excellent option for those that need something compact and high efficiency to use at home or for educational purposes. 

Plus, it’s ideal for beginners, as it doesn’t require any assembly. All you need to do is unpack it and start using. 

This printer uses FDM technology and is compatible with a wide range of different filaments. 

BIQU Magician is the most affordable 3D printer on the list, with a market price of £305. 

It has a pretty impressive printing volume for its price range of 100*150 mm in diameter and comes with either Titan or MK8 extruder. 

Magical also features a TFT 2.8 highly-sensitive touch screen for easy and convenient operation and includes automatic levelling for your convenience and prints 70mm/s. 

In case you want to print small toys for your kids or learn 3D printing technology for your class, or maybe you are a beginner and don’t want a complicated machine to learn on, this is a perfect option for you.

Anet ET4

Anet ET4 3D printer is the best affordable 3D printer you can find! 

It is one of the most cost-effective printers out there, which makes it the perfect option for the small manufacturers and professional use. 

Whether you need to print dental moulds, architectural models or jewellery designs, this cheap 3D printer is what you need! 

The price is only £390! 

With a printing speed of 150 mm/s due to dual rails and a great printing volume of 220*220*250 mm, it gives you the room to experiment and at the same time get what you need out of it fast! 

Anet ET4 is a silent machine, compatible with a broad range of different filaments like PLA, HIPS, Nylon, PP, TPU and more; with an option of offline printing that guarantees smooth and highly detailed end-product. 

BIQU Thunder

Another model from this manufacturer – the BIQU Thunder 3D printer is also perfect for manufacturers and professional use. 

It has an impressive printing volume of 300*300*400 mm and a printing speed of 150 mm/s and comes in 2 versions – standard and advanced.

The standard version comes with features like automatic levelling, filament jamming detection and detachable magnetic heat bed. 

The advanced models offer such added features like remote printing via an app, wifi connection and an automatic shut down after the printing is finished. 

The price is a bit higher than the above 2 models and starts from £430. 

However, you get your money’s worth with this highly efficient machine that is just perfect for busy professionals, that need quick and smart technology, to print even when they are not there. 

All of its features make this model, hands down, the best budget 3D printer UK has to offer. 

JGAURORA A3S

Last but not least, our home-friendly, slightly more sophisticated model – JGAURORA A3S 3D printer. 

The printing volume on this one is 205*205*205 mm with a printing speed ranging from 10-150 mm/s. 

It is an FDM printer, perfect for those who want to teach printing to their kids, make toys and home decor objects together, or simply learn about this new technology and bring to life the theories from the classroom and books. 

A3S has a full metal frame and diamond glass heat bed, for excellent adhesion and easy pick-up.

This printer is slightly on the higher end in our range of cheap 3D printers with a price of £480. 

This model is equipped with a filament detection technology, letting you know if the filament breaks or is about to finish. It also automatically stops printing in such a case, and resumes form the breaking point to avoid waste. 

Which 3D printer is best for different industries? 

There are many things you need to take into consideration when choosing which 3D printer to buy. 

One of the criteria is the material you will need to use. For example, do you need to print metal, plastic, wood or any other material? If possible, choose a printer that will be compatible with a wide variety of filaments, however, metal, for instance, will need a separate machine to work. 

Another question is what kind of end-product you will be printing? Is it going to be dental moulds, shoes, auto parts or anything else? Knowing the desired results will guide you in the right direction, as your choice will derive from the printing volume as well. 

For instance, if you need to make dental moulds, then the Anet ET4 is the perfect option for you. However, it will be a bit small, if you are a home decor designer. In the case of latter, your best bet would be to go with the BIQU Thunder, as it has a far greater printing volume. 

So to recap, make sure you are considering every aspect of your industry and manufacturing process to make an informed decision. 
These best 3D printer under £500 listed above are just a small portion of all the machines available out there, thus make sure you do your research before getting one.

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How much does 3D printing cost?

Boy Exploring a 3D Printed Object

We were used to thinking about 3D printing as something out of science fiction, but it’s been on our doorsteps for a while now, and it has become more and more affordable over time. 

But how much does it cost to own and successfully operate a 3D printer? 

We have to consider not only the 3D printer cost itself but also the 3D printer filament, the 3D printing software, electricity costs, and the possible upgrades for better printing results. 

Let’s discuss the realistic prices and see how much 3D printing actually costs. 

3D printer cost 

How much does a 3D printer cost? The range of 3D printers is extensive. It starts with a 3D printing pen at about £30,  but 3D printer price depends on a few specifications:

3D printer body material

You can find a low cost 3D printer model for under £200 on the UK market. Those are typically small-sized, have a plastic body, and lack in printing precision. 

With that said, if you are looking for a 3D printer to be used in an educational environment for demonstration, a cheap 3D printer will do the trick. 

If you need a 3D printer that will feature high precision and good filament flow, consider a metal construction.  Metal 3D printer cost will be higher than plastic, starting from  £350- £400 and up. 

Printing size

Desktop printers

3D printer cost will also range depending on printing size. The non-industrial devices are usually referred to as ‘desktop printers’ and have a printing size of 300x300x400mm on average. 

Desktop 3D printer price ranges, as we said, from £200 to about £1000 and more. The expensive 3D printer usually means more precision and less hassle when it comes to part replacements and upgrades. 

Industrial printers 

An industrial-grade 3D printer price UK has to offer can vary from around £1000 up to a few thousand and more. Those are professional devices used in mass manufacturing and are not usually suited for individual use because of their size and price as well. 

Printing Material

3D printers vary in the 3D printing materials they use and the general principle behind printing. The 2 biggest categories are FDM and SLA printers. They are different not only in 3D printer filament but also in technology of the whole process, as well as the price. 

FDM printers

This is the most popular kind of desktop 3D printers on the market and the most affordable one as well. These printers use a filament ‘feeding’ mechanism, which basically melts the filament and uses a precise nozzle to distribute this 3D printer filament and make it into a specific shape. 

The price range we discussed before mostly included FDM printers, so we have to repeat ourselves here. They range from £200 to approximately £1000-£2000, meaning the devices that can be used at home.  

SLA printers

They use a totally different principle to print. The filament is actually a pool of resin, and the device uses UV light to ‘transform’ the resin and make it into shape. These printers are generally higher in precision and are more costly. Starting from around £600 and ranging up to a few thousand as well. 

Also, consider possible update purchases, and replacements that can add up to around  £70-£80. 

Don’t forget, there’s always the option to buy a used 3D printer if you are looking to cut the cost, but check both the seller and the product carefully before making a decision. If you are not particularly tech-savvy, ask someone for help. 

3D printer filament cost 

As we mentioned before, 3D printer filament can range in price and material, so let’s discuss the FDM and SLA printers separately and compare the prices. 

The filament is a large section of expenses, when it comes to 3D printing, as you need a lot of it if you are hoping to print something worthwhile. 

And regardless of the type, it’s always more cost-effective to buy in bulk, if you are planning on using your printer regularly. 

FDM printer filament cost 

FDM printers use a range of materials, from different sorts of plastic to 3D printer wood filament, and 3D printer metal filament. The most popular 3D printer filament types for an FDM printer are PLA and ABS (types of plastic), which cost about £15- £20 for 1KG of filament. 

So how long can you use it for? It basically depends on how much you print. If you are doing a small 100g print, it will cost you about £2 maximum. If you are doing a large 400g-500g print, you will spend about £10. But remember, that you can sometimes cut the cost by doing a hollow shape instead of a solid one. 3D printer filament UK market offers today are multicoloured, have different thicknesses, and are suited for different printers, so you have a wide range to choose from. 

SLA printer filament cost 

As we said before, the SLA 3D printer uses UV sensitive resin to print, and a 500g bottle of this resin costs around £20, so it’s a bit more expensive, but still worth the price considering the detailing and the incredible precision SLA printers provide. 

3D printing software cost

3D printing is a CAD-based (computer-aided design) process, so you need 3D printing design software to create and design the shapes you are hoping to print. If you are not that into the design part, that’s ok too. Today there are online libraries, where you can choose ready designs to print. 

Free CAD software for 3D printing is not that hard to find, but if you are serious about your printing, it’s a good idea to invest money and time into quality design software.  It usually costs cheaper, when paid annually, but monthly payments are around £100 for professional 3D printing software.  

You will also need so-called slicing software, which transforms your designed shape into a multitude of layers for the device to print. That software usually comes with the printer, but again, you can purchase it separately, spending around 50 additional pounds. 

Time and Electricity

This is not that big of a segment of spending, even when it comes to continuous use of a 3D printer. Some models are more energy-efficient than others, but on average the energy consumption is relatively small, the cost comes around to about £60-£100 per year, which is insignificant, compared to device and filament prices, but should be considered nonetheless. 

The process is time-consuming, though. It often takes a few hours to print a relatively small 300x300x300 shape. If you are printing something big, be prepared to spend time on it. 

On the other hand, you can always leave the printer to do its job and get on with your usual schedule. Most of them have power-loss protection built-in, and things like break-resume technology, which will stop the process if the printer is out of filament and you’re not there to feed a new roll in. 

Total Cost 

We’ve discussed all the major items of expenditure in the 3D printing world, so let’s take stock and shortlist all the expenses one more time:

  • 3D Printer –  £200-£1000
  • Filament –  £20 per 1KG
  • Software –  £50-£100 monthly with an option to cut this cost and get free software
  • Electricity –  £60-£100 annually. 

As you can see,  3D printing can be quite affordable and can make an enjoyable and educational pastime not only for yourself but for the whole family. 

3D printing is quite flexible. There’s always a way to cut some costs here and there, and vice versa, invest more if you are planning on doing this professionally. 

Be aware and prepared, when it comes to finances, and 3D printing will not disappoint!