Type of 3D Printers

Industrial 3D Printers

3D printers have been used by the industry for about 25 years, especially for rapid prototyping and later on rapid manufacturing (the relatively inexpensive production of a small number of parts). But industrial 3D printers are generally prohibitively expensive, not really user friendly and extremely bulky. The advantage of these machines is that they are very fast, they can often print in different colours and they can print multiple copies of the same object during the same print run. These machines also allow printing 3D objects in a very large variety of materials. With today’s 3D printing services, you can choose whether you want your part printed in metal, plaster, ceramic, metal alloy, paper, resin or even edible materials.

Consumer-oriented 3D Printers

The buzz created by 3D printing is mainly due to its potential to be used along the lines of a normal home printer , yes we are speaking of personal 3D printing and consumer-oriented 3D printers, also known as desktop 3D printers. These have only been around for a few years and were first adopted by techies and tinkerers. The technologies and software for these machines have progressed a lot since then, mainly thanks to the enormous efforts of makers, DIY’ers, enthusiasts and diverse open source communities. Consumer 3D printers are now desktop-sized and their prices have dropped significantly in the last few years. So much in fact that experts consider the technology is soon ripe to be adopted by a broader consumer level, before entering mass production stage.

The current consumer-oriented 3D printers are however still directed at a hobbyist and enthusiast market. The 3D printers are still less precise and far slower than their industrial counterparts, but how cool is it to actually print toys and tools at your desktop. Most consumer-oriented printers only use thermoplastics as printing material.

The different types of 3D printers each employ a different technology that processes different materials in different ways. It is important to understand that one of the most basic limitations of 3D printing — in terms of materials and applications — is that there is no ‘one solution fits all’.

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