Mistakes to avoid while buying a 3D printer – a user’s guide

There are lot of buzz around the 3D printers lately. Many believe that 3D prototyping is easy. The reality is it is difficult and very tricky as well. It is not feasible to work with for a non – technical person. A small mistake can lead to tragic and disastrous outcomes like geometric inaccuracies, missing faces, poor resolution and much more. Therefore, it is crucial to know the common possible mistakes that can be encountered in 3D printing

Lack of material guideline

Choose the right materials. The options are numerous. There are more than 20 printing materials available. ABS and PLA are the common materials used. Every material has their own pros and cons. They can be stiff, brittle, solid, flexible. Some materials can be worked with all types of filaments. Filament is the component that builds the prototype in a professional 3D printer.

For instance, the user is specific about rounding off corner and overhanging parts, he should consider using ceramic material. Choosing the material pre-sets the basic guidelines in designing. The material should be appropriate to the application used.

Incorrect printing technology

There are around 10 printing technology. Not all the technologies can build all the prototypes. They are application specific. For instance, the electron beam technology is ideal for commercial 3D printers.

For plastic materials FDM – Fused Deposition Modelling technology is used. On the other hand, SLS – Selective Laser Sintering technology is used for alumide materials. SLA – Stereolithography is used for resin and Digital Light Processing is used for wax.

Failing to consider file resolution    

Most of the files are in the STL format STL is Standard Triangle Language. When providing the STL file, it is essential to choose the right resolution for the file. Here are some tips to choose the best file resolution for 3D printing

  • File types with too high resolution or too low-resolution cause problems
    • Low resolution STL file – A poor quality export will not provide a good print.
    • Very high resolution STL file – It makes the file too big. At times the file size is impossible to handle.
  • Choose the right tolerance level while exporting. Exporting with tolerance less than 0.01 mm will not make sense
  • Resize the 3D model before exporting. The size of the 3D model should be the same as the size of the intended 3D print. If the 3D model is small scaled, and the user intends to build a large-scale object, he should scale up in the software before exporting.

Incorrect wall thickness

The Wall thickness of a commercial 3D printer is defined as the distance between the surface of the model and opposite surface. The 3D model should have minimum wall thickness. If the wall thickness is not correct the following issues are encountered

  • Unable to print
  • The protypes could crack
  • Sometimes, the prototypes even break away

Machine not set properly

Failure of the machine is the most common mistake. This can be caused due to problems like nozzles not working, no power supply to the filament, etc. Therefore, it is essential to set up the printer properly before using. Most of the printers in the market today are pre calibrated. However, some printers demand adjustments to function well.

John Smith: John, a former software engineer, shares his insights on software development, programming languages, and coding best practices.

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