What’s the best type 3D printer?
Two major, three dimensional printer formats exist, with which I am familiar as an owner/user. FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) and UV cure resins. There are a proliferation of variation with these format names but the process is the same however a manufacture chooses to use a different acronym. It’s creative marketing hype to be “different”.
Commercial Additive manufacturing (a.k.a - 3D Printing) is a totally different “animal” than hobbyist and very small business. Commercial equipment is far beyond the garden variety desktop system for which I speak.
The hobby class manufactures from outside the USA (and their USA distributors) love to spout off how “professional grade” their low cost product compares to others in their class, but it is a sick joke when put up against REAL professional and industrial grade machinery.
OK, not going there in this report.
I associate with the home user / hobbyist. I manufacture but I am not a manufacturer. There is some sense to that. I assure you there are no major manufacturers reading this blog looking for 3D printer and 3D printing pointers.
This story is about how I view the hardware I own and use as far as the difference between FDM and resins. Their differences do NOT make one method the best do-all choice above the other.
A jewelers metal forming hammer does not do the same work as a carpenter’s framing hammer. The only thing in common is they bare both called hammers. This same analogy applies to FDM and Resin 3D printers.
If I want to do both jobs I need two different hammers. Same with 3D printers.
I have created and printed a lot of “stupid plastic Junque” with my (now numbering 7) FDM printers. FDM, once I got away from printing Junque, is the work-horse for practical plastic products. I can take advantage of the many variants in filament types to make strong things that are practical. Those things may not be heirloom quality family hand-me-downs.
One great advantage is I can print large one-piece items with FDM. (See picture.)
Resin printers I use are the DLP variety. Not LASER scanners but picture mask full layer projectors. This limits what I can make as far as size. For me it is perfect for personal jewelry size items. What it brings to the 3D printing desk is extremely fine detail resolution not available with FDM. Excellent for highly detailed modeling and masters for jewelry casting models.
Resin prints at the hobbyist material quality level are not good for end use products. Most prints are fragile and resin curing is usually not complete. Painted gaming models, model train (type) display models, lost resin (wax) casting are its strong points. The value is in the superb modeling detail. Not as a durable or functional end use product. (Remember I am referring to hobby class materials here.)
My advice is start with FDM. Then move to resin for the excellent but less durable detail printing.
I am satisfied with that strategy. It works for me. (Your desires may certainly be different.)
I would love to have an application where I could justify an FDM system in the price class of MakerGear and Ultimaker. Or perhaps a resin printer such as B9Creations or Formlabs. My printers are roughly 10% the cost and probably 60% the quality.
Low cost is reflected in the components that just meet the minimum spec to do the job. Higher cost is for superior design and hardware that far exceeds what is minimum. Stability, strength, weight, endurance are reflected in the higher cost to obtain.
“Better” is a relative term. A point of view. Better and best helps a professional perform by reducing working effort and failures caused by pushing and exceeding limits. Perhaps automation reduces effort.
Buying the best tool does not make one the best at what has not been mastered. But the best tools do make the masters into the best professionals at what they can do…
Nothing wrong with buying the best tools to start if possible. Just saying that getting started doesn’t always demand the very best. Like buying a Huffy bike to learn to balance before opting for the full dress Harley.