Do you need to Buy a 3D Printer?
As you begin your journey into the world of 3D Printers, its great to ask yourself, do you actually need to buy a 3D Printer. Based on your needs and expectations, what should you know? First of all, 3D Printers can be expensive, and for individuals wanting to create objects at home, it can cost up to over a couple thousand dollars.
For small businesses, a large production printer can go up to 5 figures! One of the best ways to find out what printers may suit your needs is to do online research and connect with fellow 3d Printer owners. By asking about their experience, you can learn as much as you need regarding 3D printers in general!Another option is to find a shared space that allows people to pay to use the 3d printers there. You can develop your own understanding of these machines there, and then decide based on your experience if a certain specific 3d printer is for you!
What type of 3D printer Should I Buy?
As an individual buying a 3d printer for your own home, there are probably only a few 3d printing technologies that are suitable to your needs.
The reality is that you probably won’t be buying a 6 figure machine that produces metal objects, instead, you’ll probably be considering 2 main categories of 3D printing technology.This would be FDM and SLA (also known as DLP, or MSLA)
FDM stands for Fused Deposition Modeling and is one of the most popular printing technologies in the consumer market.
Should I Buy an FDM 3D Printer?
Fused deposition modeling (FDM) is the most common printing method used in desktop 3D printing. How can you tell if a 3D printer uses FDM? Firstly there will be a nozzle that heats up and extrudes the thermoplastic material used to create layers of plastic on a print bed. Layers will be stacked upon each other until the entire design of the object is fully manifested.
FDM is very useful especially for individuals, or small institutions that want to do a cost-effective way of product development and prototyping. There are many complex designs that can be executed with FDM technology.
One amazing benefit that FDM printers have is their compatibility with a wide range of affordable materials. These are typically industry-grade plastics that are found in some engineering industries. While these machines are easy to use, they also tend to require lots of attention and can be quite high maintenance.
Should I Buy a Resin 3D Printer?
What are Resin 3D printers? The technology is called vat photopolymerization. This is a process where a liquid polymer is hardened into an object through exposure to ultraviolet light.
The 3D object is constructed through layers of liquid photopolymer resin stacked on top of each other. The liquid resin is typically hardened through an ultraviolet light that it shown through the bottom of the vat.
SLA stands for stereolithography. Together with MSLA and DLP, these 3 technologies are both considered a form of vat polymerization. What sets these 3 methods apart is the light source used to harden the liquid resin.
What’s great about Resin 3D printers are the amazingly fine details that they can produce. The objects produced are much smoother and also tend to produce objects faster than FDM machines. Objects made from Resin printers tend to be more durable and sturdy as the layers of material have better adhesion.
These benefits tend to make SLA machines cost more than FDM machines, and often more suitable for professional use. Despite that, there are still extremely budget-friendly resin printers on the market!
Where should I buy my 3D Printer?
So where are the best places to buy a 3D Printer today? For an average consumer or small business, we would say that there are 3 main places you can turn to.
These 3 places would be:
- China-based Shopping Platforms (Aliexpress).
- Official Brick and Mortar Stores near you
Amazon is a great place to look for budget-friendly 3D printers. You can typically find printers that start from $200USD. If you compare the inventory to chinese ecommerce stores, you will find way less discounts and deals. Despite this, Amazon is still a great place to shop for printers that have a steady price with no hidden fees.
As the biggest online shopping platform in the world, Amazon is known for its streamlined and efficient services. Besides buying printers, you can buy the necessary additional printer parts of materials for your personal or professional needs.
On Amazon you can also find merchants that buy up stock from Chinese brands such as Creality. After doing this, they make small branding and product adjustments and rename them to something new such as Comgrow.
These new merchants also offer their own customer support as well. This may be extremely confusing especially if you’re seeking to buy a Creality printer.
As a buyer, Amazon also has a great return policy. There is a 30-days withdrawal period for all new and unopened items.
You can find almost all the popular manufacturers on Amazon. For brands based in Shenzhen, you may find some of them their well known products on there as well.
AliExpress, Gearbest, BangGood can be just as reliable as Amazon. If there is a warehouse in your area, the delivery service from these stores can match that of Amazon’s
One downside of these chinese online shopping platforms are price fluctuations. The best approach here is to do your research and compare as many pricepoints against each other as possible. When shopping on these stores, do note that prices may change or jump the very next day.
As you decide on the product you want to buy, keep note of the possible import fees that your product may be subject to, including the delay in delivery and possible handling fees. We suggest you find out where the product is being delivered from, and to communicate with the online vendors as well.
One possible solution to this problem are warehouses in your country. If a chinese manufacturer has a warehouse of their products in your country, it would make more sense for you to order from that warehouse instead. This will save all the custom fees that you potentially face from overseas orders.
AliExpress is a very well known online retailer from China. On top of that they have quite a good and wide selection of 3D Printer brands on products.
If you’re there at the right time, you can often find products that are cheaper than what you find on Amazon. But as we mentioned before, watch out for the unexpected price fluctuations!
Despite the massive size of AliExpress, its not the easiest to navigate at times. Because product names may be in chinese, direct translations can often be translated to a name that doesn’t make sense at all.
AliExpress’s return policy varies based on each vendor. For most sellers you have to pay for the return shipping bill yourself. This will be quite a common thing that you will face. In the worst case scenario, the return shipping bill can sometimes cost more than the product itself. Do your research before you actually buy the product!
Most brands on AliExpress have warehouses in different locations all over the world. This makes it convenient as it reduces the shipping time for the products you buy. You can trust what’s being sold on this platform, as a lot of brands have official stores on AliExpress.
BangGood offers a good range of products and also ships globally. Out of all the chinese online stores, it operates most similarly to Amazon.
With good deals on the 3D printers that they offer, it is always good to check out their offers and find the best deal that you can get. Do note that shipping fees will vary from seller to seller.
Besides that, BangGood is easy to use, however product descriptions can be difficult to read and understand as they’re not always in English. As you do you research for which sellers you want to buy from, take note of the shipping times. They can vary from 5 days to a total of 50 days!
BangGood’s return policy is different to AliExpress’s. If there is a product that malfunctions, you can have 7 days to return it for free. If not, you have 30 days to return unopened or unused items and you have to pay for the return fees.
GearBest has a wide range of products that they offer, however they are known for selling electronics at a wholesale price.
Similar to BangGood, GearBest product prices tend to fluctuate a lot. One thing you can count on however is that they have regular sales and discounts. Once again, we recommend to do your research on where your products are shipping from. If a seller’s warehouse is in China, this will result in longer shipping times and extra custom fees.
With an easy to use website, you can expect shipping times to be anywhere from a few day to 20+ days. Shipping times depend on where the warehouse is located.
GearBest has a decent return policy. You get a 30-day window to return items that are fully functioning.This you have to pay for. For items that are malfunctioning, you don’t have to pay the return shipping fee costs.
Go on GearBest now to find a wide range of budget-friendly 3D Printers!
For Professionals 3D Printers
Online retailers such as AliExpress and Amazon tend to not carry higher-priced professional printers. It is better if you contact the sales representative of a brand, or find an online store that supplies a wide range of printers and 3D printing-related items.
For professional printer brands, you also have to take note of where their warehouses are at. As always, if the products are shipped internationally, you might have to face very high custom fees and a long shipping time.