Why It’s so Easy to Choose the Wrong 3D Printer
The purpose of this article isn’t to convince you to buy from us. Instead, the goal is to help you avoid choosing the wrong 3D printer. Of course, we’d love to be your partner, but we understand our technology won’t be the perfect fit for everyone, and that’s okay. That’s why we approach every new conversation with an open mind, allowing us to help you identify opportunities and work backward to find a solution, even if that solution comes from another provider. That’s a promise.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s discuss this topic more.
So, what is a 3D printer? At its core, a 3D printer is just a box with some electronics and motors. But, like any tool, it’s a means to an end, so it’s critical to match the tool to the job. We’ll get into that more later in the article.
3D Printing Technologies
According to the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), there are seven primary categories for 3D printing technologies, with many more variations for each.
- Binder Jetting: an additive manufacturing process in which a liquid bonding agent is selectively deposited to join powder materials.
- Directed Energy Deposition: an additive manufacturing process in which focused thermal energy is used to fuse materials by melting as they are being deposited.
- Material Extrusion: an additive manufacturing process in which material is selectively dispensed through a nozzle or orifice.
- Material Jetting: additive manufacturing process in which droplets of build material are selectively deposited.
- Powder Bed Fusion: an additive manufacturing process in which thermal energy selectively fuses regions of a powder bed.
- Sheet Lamination: an additive manufacturing process in which sheets of material are bonded to form an object.
- Vat Photopolymerization: an additive manufacturing process in which liquid photopolymer in a vat is selectively cured by light-activated polymerization.
More Noise and Less Clarity
In the new world of 3D printing, there is a 3D printer for nearly any budget. You can spend anywhere from $100 to over $1 million across the long list of technologies listed above. Unfortunately, this causes a lot of confusion because 3D printing companies at every price point generally use the same buzzwords like industrial, professional, high-performance, etc. This confusion and noise within the 3D printing industry make it incredibly difficult to choose the right 3D printer on your own.
Now that you know each of the seven categories and the range of prices, which one is right for you? You may be even more confused than before, but don’t worry! We’ve got a solution to this!
So, How Do I Know What’s Right for Me?
Here’s the bottom line. When building a deck, you would choose a drill over a screwdriver, although each option can turn screws. Unfortunately, we’ve seen countless companies choosing the wrong 3D printer for their needs, and we’re here to ensure this doesn’t happen to you.
Before you even begin researching 3D printers, finding a partner like AdvancedTek who can help you understand the impact the right 3D printer could have on your company is critical. By identifying specific problems that cause your business to lose money and time, you will better understand which technology will help you solve these problems. For example, if you uncover the potential to save $30,000 in a year with 3D printing, making a more significant investment in the best technology for the job makes a lot more sense.
On the other hand, if it’s more of a hobby, you might be able to get away with a lower-priced 3D printer built with the tinkerer in mind. However, speaking to an experienced professional is essential because you may find a different path than you had intended with 3D printing. Maybe you can turn your hobby into a business with a more dependable printer with specific capabilities, or maybe not. There’s no harm in finding out.
The Risk of Buying Before Understanding
If you go about the search alone and buy a 3D printer to figure it out as you go, the price will probably be the leading factor in the decision process. At this stage, spending tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on a 3D printer just doesn’t make sense.
When this happens, companies will typically start printing random parts here and there, but as the initial excitement about the new 3D printer fades, it often ends up unplugged and in a storage room. Unfortunately, many people use this experience to conclude that 3D printing isn’t suitable for them when it could have been a game-changer.
The downside is there may have been tremendous opportunities they never knew existed to change their entire workflow if they had taken more time to choose the right printer, even at a higher cost.
A Better Way
Working with AdvancedTek and tapping into over 25 years of experience helping companies like yours find opportunities and solve problems with the right 3D printing technology gives you the best chance at success. Also, with AdvancedTek, you can see over two million dollars worth of 3D printing equipment under one roof. At our recently expanded TekCenter in St. Paul, Minnesota, you can experience five unique 3D printing technologies in action. Seeing the entire process from preparing the file to printing and post-processing gives you complete transparency and shows what you can expect should you purchase a 3D printer from AdvancedTek.
As we work together through this process, if we find an excellent solution for you but don’t sell or support it, we’re more than happy to help connect you with a company that can help. The process starts by getting in touch with us and connecting with your dedicated resource at AdvancedTek for all things 3D printing. It doesn’t matter how large or small of a question or need; we’re excited to help you, so get in touch today.
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