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What you should consider when buying your first 3D printer


3D printing has become very popular over the years and is starting to play an important role in a number of businesses. 3D printing allows you to create any object, so it is becoming widely used in schools and industries. But everyone has to start somewhere!

As a beginner, it can be difficult to know what to look for when purchasing your first 3D printer, but it’s always good to try to determine what you want to print so you can take this into consideration. In this blog, we will touch on what you should consider before making your purchase.

Considering the different types of 3D printers

Most people may not realise that there are different types of printers, and they do not all use the same materials. Because of this, it is important to know exactly what you are looking for and what type of prints you plan to create.

Filament printers

FDM (Fused Deposition Modelling) and FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication) printers, or sometimes known as standard 3D printers, are the most common type of 3D printer for beginners as they are affordable and user-friendly. FDM/FFF printers use 3D filament and work by building the object up layer by layer using the melted filament. They are typically ideal for printing prototypes and larger objects, so are ideal for tool-making industries or engineers.

Resin printers

SLA (Stereolithography) and DLP (Digital Light Processing) printers, 3D prints are created using resin instead. This is done by illuminating a liquid resin and curing it layer by layer. Using these 3D printers you can print small, highly detailed objects, so resin printers are often used by the likes of jewellery designers or architects. They are slightly less popular than filament printers, as they are slightly more expensive.

Would you like to get started today with a plug-and-print 3D printer?

Do you want a 3D printer that is immediately ready for use? Then a plug-and-print 3D printer is what you’re looking for. If you don’t have much technical knowledge, then this is probably the best option for you. A number of standard 3D printers and resin printers are easily set-up by just plugging them in. However, these printers are generally more expensive than a DIY printer.

Do you want to assemble your own 3D printer?

If you fancy exercising your DIY skills, then you can purchase a 3D printer that you must assemble yourself. For a beginner, most printers will either be semi-assembled or come as a kit that can be quickly assembled. However, assembling your own 3D printer is a good way of becoming familiar with the mechanics of the printer and how it works. You can easily find videos that will help you assemble your 3D printer and get you started. Once you have your 3D printer kit and the correct tools, you should be well on your way to building your first 3D printer!

Best materials to use for your 3D printer

There are many different materials you can use to 3D print, ranging in sizes and colours. Choosing the correct material mainly depends on your printer and the object you want to 3D print. Materials for your 3D printer will usually come in the form of 3D filament, pellets and resin. It is important to consider what type of material you would like to print with as your standard 3D printer is not suitable for printing with resin, similar to how a SLA/DLP printer will not print using filament. Deciding what you would like to 3D print with will help determine what type of printer you’re looking for.

When you are first starting out, filaments such as PLA and PETG are both good options. Both filament types are widely available, quite affordable and easy for beginners to use. Once you become more experienced with 3D printing, you may consider using materials with different properties, such as ABS, TPU, TPE; the list goes on! These materials differ in strength, hardness, flexibility, resistance, colour choice and most importantly, melting temperature. You can have a look at our 3D filament comparison chart to compare and prepare yourself for your next print!

For beginners in resin-based 3D printing, it is recommended you start with a standard resin, which is designed to be easy to use. Standard resin usually has a moderate curing time, which means you will not have to rush your printing process. This resin comes in a number of colours, with different types of strengths and hardness, which will also be something a beginner can experiment with. When you are more confident with your resin 3D printing abilities, you might look at switching to different resins, such as laser resin. The type of resin you choose will also depend on the curing method the printer you have uses, such as UV light or daylight curing, so this will be good to keep in mind.

No matter what type of resin you use, it is important to follow safety guidelines when handling and curing resin. We recommend you work in a well ventilated area, where possible, and wear appropriate personal protective equipment, such as rubber gloves and safety glasses.

Creating bigger 3D prints

When you are first starting on your 3D printing journey, you will probably stick to smaller prints for a while. This will help you learn how your 3D printer works and what to expect when printing. However, it is important to also take into consideration that you might eventually start printing bigger 3D objects. The print surface of a 3D printer can range from round to square and the sizes can vary. The prices of 3D printers will also depend on these factors.

Prices you’re willing to pay

As a beginner 3D printer, there is no need to spend an unnecessary amount of money. In fact, we suggest you buy the bare necessities when first starting out, unless you are absolutely certain that you are going to continue 3D printing for years. The prices of 3D printers can range anywhere from €200 to €15,000 +, so perhaps a higher range 3D printer is something you might look at when you become a more confident 3D printer!

We have a number of 3D starter kits with everything you need to get started, all at very affordable prices. By purchasing one of our bundles, starting your 3D printing journey should not be too expensive.

By taking these six tips into consideration, you should be able to get a better idea of exactly what type of 3D printer you are looking for.

Our top 3D printer picks

If you feel you’re ready to purchase your 3D printer, then why not have a look at our 3D printer comparison page. You will see our top three FDM/FFF printers and SLA/DLP printers that are perfect to get you started on your 3D printing journey here. However, if you have a specific 3D printer already in mind, then you might find it amongst our range of 3D printers.

FDM/FFF printers

Print Volume
(L x B x H)
Camera Network Heated Bed Filament diameter
Creality 3D Ender-3 V2
22 x 22 x 25 No No Yes 1.75mm
Creality 3D Ender-3 S1 Plus
65.5 x 55.7 x 53.5 No No Yes 1.75mm
Creality 3D Ender-5 S1
57 x 42.5 x 46 No No Yes 1.75mm

SLA/DLP printers

Print Volume
(L x B x H)
Camera Network Light Source
Elegoo Mars 3 Pro
14.3 x 8.9 x 17.5 No No UV-LCD
Anycubic 3D Photon Mono X
12 x 19.2 x 24.5 No No UV-LED
Elegoo Saturn S
19.6 x 12.2 x 21 No Yes (Ethernet) UV-LCD

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Common Questions

What 3D printer is suitable for beginners?

We have picked our top 5 3D printers, which are not too expensive and suitable for beginners. You will find a number of 3D printers here that are suitable for beginners, but the 3D printer best suited to you depends on exactly what you are looking for.

Is it expensive to start 3D printing?

When first starting out, 3D printing can be a little expensive, but by choosing one of our 3D beginner kits, you should be able to cut costs. Rather than buying every product imaginable, start with what you really need. Your 3D printer, a spool of filament (or bottle of resin), adhesive spray and a cleaning brush are usually what we would recommend.

Can I learn how to 3D print at home?

While it might seem daunting, it is possible to learn how to 3D print at home. There are a number of videos and blogs that will help you along your way and Thingiverse will give you an endless amount of ideas for objects to print! Practice makes perfect, so it might take some time before you 3D print something you are 100% happy with. And don’t forget, our Help Centre is a great resource for advice and troubleshooting tips.

If you have any questions, contact us and our 3D specialist will be happy to help!

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