Where to buy a 3d printer near me
Best 3D Printer for 2022
In the last few years, 3D printing has crossed a rubicon into the mainstream consciousness. Schools and libraries often have 3D printers, and the barrier to entry for hobbyists is lower than ever, with inexpensive machines offering excellent out-of-the-box results.
Because 3D printing technology has come a long way in recent years, I've doubled down on being creative and gotten into 3D scanning and laser cutting as well, which lets you sculpt real-world designs from leather and wood. Advanced printers are also using resin machines that create amazingly detailed prints.
Current 3D printers, which range from affordable (under $300) to high-end (over $4,000), are great gifts for a creative person in your life. Even better, they're great for you to craft your own personalized designs if you're looking to open an Etsy shop or something similar.
These models by Fotis Mint are extremely detailed.James Bricknell/CNET
We've taken a deep dive into many of the best 3D printers available today. This list includes both small and large 3D printers, with attention paid to print speed, the size of the build plate, the cost of PLA filament, the kind of print head included and other important details. And once you've decided to take the plunge into additive manufacturing -- that's what 3D printing essentially is -- there's an FAQ below.
Our top picks
Creality Ender-3 S1
Best step-up starter printer
I'd avoided Ender-3 printers for a long while, because they came in kit form and required many hours of assembly, setup and fine-tuning to use. For just a little more than the kit versions, the newer Ender-3 S1 comes nearly fully preassembled, and with high-end features like a direct drive extruder and self-leveling bed.
Print quality even out-of-the-box was excellent, although a lot of that comes down to having good models to work from. I'd love it to have a touchscreen and Wi-Fi, but apart form those missing features, this is a great way to get polished results from a $400 3D printer.
Read our Creality Ender-3 S1 review.
$399 at Amazon
Best for out-of-the-box printing
The Anycubic Vyper FDM printer attempts to be both an affordable 3D printer and easy to use. It's a tricky needle to thread. Plenty of 3D printers offer automatic bed leveling and calibration to make sure prints come out even and firmly anchored to the print bed. This, however, is the first time I've seen a 3D printer run its bed leveling once, with zero manual input from me, and be totally good to go. I printed a 3D test file from the included SD card within minutes of powering on, and I've never seen a first print from a 3D printer come out so perfectly.
Read our Anycubic Vyper review.
$319 at Anycubic
$490 at Amazon
Anycubic Kobra Max
Best to make big projects easily
The Anycubic Kobra Max earned a 9 out of 10 in our recent review, in large part because it's one of the most enjoyable printers I've used in years. The build area is large enough to print entire helmets for cosplay, and the auto-bed-leveling system makes setting the machine up a breeze. The Kobra Max is the best choice for a large build area printer, bar none. --James Bricknell
Read our Anycubic Kobra review.
$549 at Anycubic
Entry-level 3D printers
Prusa Mini Plus
Small but mighty
The Mini Plus is one of the best small-footprint printers you can buy. It has everything you would expect from a Prusa machine: Auto bed leveling, crash detection and great print quality, all for under $450. Building it with my son gave us a lot of good insights into how a 3D printer works, and potentially how to fix one.
$429 at Prusa Research
Best inexpensive resin 3D printer
Resin printers are the next step up in rapid prototyping design technology when you want your printing to look as high quality as possible. Just be warned: The liquid resin is harder to work with, and it requires both good ventilation and a portable UV light to properly cure. This model is extremely popular with board game hobbyists who want to print pro-looking miniatures, and sometimes you'll see it fall in price. Note that you can save $20 at Amazon by activating the instant coupon on the product page.
$189 at Anycubic
$250 at Amazon
Monoprice Mini Delta V2
Best for tiny desks
I had high hopes for this dirt-cheap 3D printer with a tiny footprint. It's usually under $200 and requires no additional assembly. And I do like it, but it's for a specific audience. This is not the great low-cost entry-level printer I was hoping for. It required some tweaking and troubleshooting to get up and running. The included microSD card was so cheap and corrupted it never worked, the built-in Wi-Fi was never able to connect to my network, and the machine's arms got caught on some poorly installed plastic wire covers (I just ripped the paper-thin covers off).
But once I had all the problems ironed out, it was a reliable little machine for quick jobs. It would make a great second 3D printer, or if you need to fit one into a small space. I especially liked the auto-leveling, which worked well, and the color touchscreen, which is a feature that often gets chopped from low-cost models. If you're willing to put a little effort into getting it set up correctly, it's a great printer for the price.
$175 at Amazon
Midrange 3D printers
Anycubic Photon Mono X
Best for mass-produced gaming minis
Standard resin printers are fine if you want to print small items or miniatures. For more oversized cosplay items, practical models or collections of gaming miniatures, you're going to need a bigger build area.
Enter the Anycubic Mono X, a resin printer that solves that issue by having a build plate nearly three times bigger than the standard Anycubic models. For example, I managed to print the entire blade of a Dune Crysknife, something that would have needed to be split into three parts if it wasn't for the extra build volume.
The Mono X also prints at insane speeds. Because resin prints the entire layer in one shot, they tend to be quicker than traditional FDM printers in the first place, but the Mono X takes this to the extreme with layers printing in as little as 1 second. It's incredible to watch. --James Bricknell
It's still cheaper to shop at Anycubic directly, but you can save $110 at Amazon by activating the instant coupon on the product page.
$349 at Anycubic
$660 at Amazon
Flashforge Adventurer 4
Best 3D printer for ease of use
The Flashforge Adventurer 3 has long been one of CNET's favorite midprice 3D printers. The updated Adventurer 4 brings a handful of iterative improvements that make for a winning evolution. The Adventurer 4 is a fully enclosed unit, which helps control the temperature and block drafts. The build area is 220 by 200 by 250mm, and it has a system for easily swapping out nozzles -- all good features to have in a mid-level to high-end printer.
$849 at Amazon
High-end and professional 3D printers
Best for small biz or pro cosplayers
A word of warning; the CR-30 is not for the beginners out there. It is a complicated machine, and you will need some 3D-printing knowledge to really get the hang of it. It's also a very different beast, and instead of printing on a static-sized build plate, it uses a conveyor belt to create an "endless Z-axis." That lets you print very long things or lots of things over and over again.
If you are a cosplayer looking to make weapons or large armor pieces, the CR-30 gives you a lot of room to create. I've managed to print Squall's Gunblade from Final Fantasy VIII as well as the Whisper of the Worm from Destiny 2 (both were printed in two halves and attached together). It's great for small businesses looking to mass-produce small parts, and with just two CR-30s you could create a small empire on Etsy or Shopify. --James Bricknell
$1,100 at Crealty
$1,100 at Amazon
Glowforge 3D Laser Cutter
Best for woodworkers
I can't begin to tell you how much I love the Glowforge. Laser cutters can create projects from wood, leather, lucite and other materials, making it an interesting creation alternative to filament-based 3D printers. Even better, what would take a 3D printer hours to do takes just minutes in the Glowforge.
With it, I've created laser-etched LED lights, birch wood tool caddies, and even a three-tier box for my Nespresso sleeves. There's a robust community of makers creating and sharing files, but pretty much any line drawing you can create in something like Adobe Illustrator can be turned into a project.
The software is all cloud-based, which adds a layer of complication (you need internet service to use it), but the ability to create amazing gifts and more from simple 0.125-inch or 0.25-inch cheap plywood is pretty empowering.
See some of my laser cutter projects (and download my SVG files) here.
$3,995 at Glowforge (Glowforge Basic)
$4,995 at Glowforge (Glowforge Plus)
Revopoint Pop 2
While the software has a pretty steep learning curve, the end result is extremely detailed. I've really enjoyed using the handheld version to scan larger models while the included turntable makes scanning smaller objects a breeze. If you are looking for a professional-grade scanner and can spend some time on the software, the Pop 2 is a great choice.
$800 at Amazon
SOL Desktop Laser 3D Scanner
Best 3D scanner for easy replicas
Recreate pretty much anything by putting it on this 3D scanner, where a rotating base and built-in camera create a 360-degree copy, which is then editable in any 3D program and printable on your 3D printer. Simply scan the object, import the scan into your slicing software for cleanup, and print. The included software alerts you of next steps in the printing process with either sound or texts. Scan quality and print resolution are great, and setup is easy, although you might want to clean up your 3D model a bit in a 3D software app after.
$614 at Amazon
3D printing FAQs
What material should I use to print with?
Most home 3D printers use PLA or ABS plastic. Professional printers can use all sorts of materials, from metal to organic filament. Some printers use a liquid resin, which is much more difficult to handle. As a beginner, use PLA. It's nontoxic, made mostly of cornstarch and sugarcane, handles easily and is inexpensive. However, it's more sensitive to heat, so don't leave your 3D prints on the dashboard of a car on a hot day.
Which brand of PLA is best?
Generally speaking, Hatchbox has never let me down and runs about $25 for a full 1kg spool on Amazon. Some of the printers I tested only accommodate narrower 0.5kg spools. In those cases, I sometimes used a larger Hatchbox roll with a separate spool-holder. Other times, I had good luck with AIO Robotics 0.5kg spools, which are a little more expensive, at $14 for 0.5kg. Amazon Basics and Monoprice can also be good, but for any brand, weird colors like metallic or glow-in-the-dark filament can be hit-or-miss. Note that a 1kg roll prints a lot of stuff.
What settings should I use?
Most 3D printers include or link to recommended software, which can handle converting 3D STL or other files into formats supported by the printer. Stick with the suggested presets to start, with one exception. I've started adding a raft, or bottom layer of filament, to nearly everything I print. It has cut down dramatically on prints that don't adhere to the bed properly, which is a common issue. If you continue to have problems, rub a standard glue stick on the print bed right before printing.
What are supports?
Your 3D models probably need some help to print properly, as these printers don't do well with big overhangs -- for example, an arm sticking out from a figure. Your 3D printer software can usually automatically calculate and add supports, meaning little stands that hold up all those sticking-out parts of the model. After the print is done, clip the supports off with micro cutters and file down any nubs or rough edges with hobby files.
Where do I find things to print?
Thingiverse.com is a huge online repository of 3D files for anything and everything you can think of. Pokemon chess set? It's there. Dyson vacuum wall mount? You bet.
When you're ready to create your own designs, there are a ton of software packages to choose from, but it's easiest to start with the browser-based free TinkerCad app from Autodesk.
Crazy things I've made on a 3D printer+15 more See all photos
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Our printers continue to collect great reviews and awards all around the world. Original Prusa i3 MK3/S is the best 3D Printer in the Ultimate Guide to Digital Fabrication by MAKE: Magazine and our printers also received several editor's choices and awards from respected media outlets like All3DP, PC Mag, Tom's Hardware, TechRadar, Forbes, WireCutter, Windows Central and many more!
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Raise3D E2 3D printer overview
In this review, we will talk about a new model of a 3D printer in the range of Raise3D - model Raise3D E2 .
Raise3D, which has Chinese roots, has become a global company today, although the company is still headquartered in Shanghai, but the main markets for Raise3D equipment are the United States and European countries, this is due to the opening of two other company offices in California, the United States and Rotterdam, Netherlands.
The development of the concept of the E2 3D printer lasted more than two years and even continued after the premiere, which, by the way, took place first in Moscow in September last year, where Tsvetnoy Mir presented the novelty first at the Top3D Expo conference, and later at the 3D Print Expo exhibition . But Raise3D, having identified a number of problems, delayed the start of sales of new printers in order to be completely confident in the quality of the model being released to the market. Deliveries of printers began in April, and they reached Russia only in June. In the future, it is assumed that on the basis of the E2 model there will be a whole line of 3D printers adapted to the tasks of specific industries, but for now, let's look at the printer with an armed eye.
We already wrote about all the main features and innovations of E2 in our previous article "Meet - Raise3D E2" at the end of May this year. Over the past time, we were able to take a closer look at the printer and test the serial model that fell into our possession, despite the fact that we had a pre-production sample of the printer for a long time and we were well acquainted with all the "chips" of E2.
The main difference between the E2 and its predecessors, the Pro2 series printers, can be considered the IDEX system.
IDEX is a printing system with two independent extruders. Raise3D did not become the inventor of this technology, it was used in different models before, however, it should be noted that E2 is distinguished from all competitors by its high quality of workmanship and a number of engineering improvements, which we will discuss in more detail below.
The IDEX system as a whole has a number of advantages over the classic layout of two extruders in one head. The first is the weight of the printhead itself, which is significantly lower, which avoids unnecessary inertia when moving it. And of course, the advantage is the independence of extruders (albeit partial in fact), it makes it possible to increase the performance of one 3D printer without reducing its functionality.
The first sales experience of E2 3D printers showed that customers often compare them with the Pro2 model, also manufactured by Raise3D. Indeed, these models are close to each other in terms of their parameters, but the fundamental difference between them is the IDEX system, which expands the variability of the printer's operation possibilities. The photo below shows the process of printing a protective shield in the “duplication” mode. In essence, a system with two independent extruders gives you the ability to double the performance of your printer when needed, and this is its key advantage over the classic arrangement of extruders.
The E2 model can print in multiple modes: single extruder, dual extruder, model duplication mode or mirror mode, and you can also print the same model with different materials with different temperature settings.
We will return to the IDEX system in this review, but for now let's look at other characteristics of the printer.
The Raise3D E2 3D printer is a sturdy, durable and rather heavy construction made of aluminum and high quality heat-resistant molded plastic. In general, the quality of the printer's performance deserves the highest praise, there can be no question of savings here.
The size of the printer itself - 607x596x465 mm - is quite large for an office desk and of course it is larger than many desktop printers, but the printable area is also significantly ahead of direct competitors such as Ultimaker 3, Zortrax M200 Plus and Picaso Designer X Pro. For him, it would be best to use a separate table or bedside table. In addition, to load the filament into the side insulated "pockets", you need to open their doors, and this requires 30-40 cm of free space.
It is also worth taking into account the availability of space for opening the top cover, this requires about half a meter from above, so installing the printer in a niche will not work either.
It is also important to note that it is possible to set in the settings to pause printing if both the front and top covers are opened, and then continue printing after they are closed. This is necessary for the safe use of the printer in schools where children may be burned.
The maximum print area with one extruder in E2 is 330x240x240 mm, with two extruders - 295x240x240 mm. These sizes are quite enough to perform most typical and not very tasks, but for larger projects, Raise3D Pro2 Plus is perfect.
The table heats up to standard 110℃, and extruders up to 300℃, which comfortably allows you to work with materials with a high percentage of shrinkage and solves the problem of tearing off the first layers when printing with high-temperature plastics. The table heats up not quickly, but steadily, while the power consumption of 350 watts looks quite economical. These temperature settings enable the user to use a full range of everyday 3D printing materials, including nylon (polyamide), polycarbonate, ASA, carbon fiber, glass-filled nylon, carbon-filled ABS, and more. Beyond the capabilities of E2, as in the Pro2 line, only high-temperature engineering plastics such as PEEK and Ultem 9 remain085.
And just like before, you can use both original Raise3D filaments and any third-party filaments, many of which participate in the OFP (Open Filament Program) program, which allows third-party plastics manufacturers to test their materials on Raise3D printers and create profiles for each material for maximum user convenience.
An important role is played by the hermetically sealed printer case, which makes it possible to maintain a stable temperature inside in the region of 30-40 ℃, which is necessary for printing with high-temperature materials with a high degree of shrinkage.
A special HEPA filter ensures no odor even when using ABS filament. The tasks of the HEPA filter are not only to trap the smallest particles of the polymer, preventing them from entering the environment of the working room, but also to block unpleasant and harmful fumes from printing with some technical polymers.
A few words about kinematics
The kinematic scheme of mechanical movements of the Raise3D E2 3D printer is a portal structure with a movable platform. The X and Z axes are combined in a rigid U-shaped module, where two extruders move independently on the portal rail X. Raise3D is the first to use a rail guide in their printers and is a major departure from the Ultimaker kinematics that inspired the N and Pro2 series printer lines.
The advantages of this mechanics can be considered high accuracy, reliability of printheads and wide operational variability with high stability of results.
Among the shortcomings of this system, it is worth noting the relatively low printing speed due to excessive movements when switching the activity of the print head (heads when changing material), as well as high inertial moments of the build platform with the part printed on it. Although the engineers have done their best to reduce the mass of the table, sometimes, with sudden movements, “ringing” vibrations can be observed, which in the worst case can lead to the separation of the part from the surface.
Concluding our review of the mechanics of the printer, let's pay attention to a couple more controversial engineering decisions.
Firstly, the lack of mechanical synchronization of the trapezoid screws of the Z axes leads to the need to periodically calibrate the horizontal parallelism of the X beam. This procedure is performed by moving the X beam up until it stops against the metal cross beam with the accompanying unpleasant sound of knocking motors.
Secondly, a moving printing platform, although this solution has proven itself so well in Prusa-type printers that its use in a professional segment printer is fully justified, especially since all our printing experiments did not show any problems associated with this.
High-quality safe 30-40 mm/s in printing are provided stably. And only when the "classic" 50-60 mm/s is exceeded in combination with a high and massive model, the degree of process comfort is slightly reduced. It's no secret that print stability is largely due to the quality formation of a reliable first layer.
And also another decision that may seem controversial.
The platform, as in the Pro2 series, remained aluminum with a proprietary BuildTak print surface, which, with its high wear resistance, has good plastic adhesion. But, for E2, it was made flexible and removable with magnetic fixation. Therefore, it requires frequent calibration of the print surface, ideally after each new installation of the flexible printing plate on the desktop. And each calibration takes time.
We cannot yet make an unambiguous conclusion whether this solution is more successful, it will be possible to judge this after a certain period of operation of the printers by users, but we did not have any problems with coverage when testing the printer.
Now let's turn our attention to the heart of any 3D printer - the E2 direct extruder. It is compact, light enough and thought out to the smallest detail. It has a gear transmission and, if our assumptions are confirmed, a double-sided gear clamp of the filament thread, similar to the BMG gearbox known to many.
This solution allows you to confidently work with soft and "slippery" plastics. The upper limit of printing temperature is limited to 300°C.
Next to the extruder, on the left printhead, there is a BL Touch type level sensor, a two-position electromagnetic probe with an optical position fixation sensor.
Raise3D E2 implements a system for multi-zone calibration of the table surface.
Raise3D engineers tried to carefully pack it in a metal casing, saving it from mechanical damage and high temperature of the workspace.
Among other useful functions, it is worth noting the filament end sensors (although you won’t surprise anyone with them), with long-term printing you don’t have to worry about a suddenly running out of thread - the printer will pause, and after “refueling” it will continue printing.
The printer is also equipped with a video camera that allows you to record and remotely control the printing process using Raise3D's comprehensive cloud services. This service has already become a corporate standard for Raise3D printers. You can learn more about all the possibilities and prospects for their use from presentations and video materials posted on the company's official resources on the Internet.
In addition to the listed functional controls, it is worth noting the large red button located next to the printer display.
This button activates the ECCO mode, which turns off the work chamber lighting and display indication when the operator deems it necessary. For example, when printing many hours or even many days to save energy, this button is also used to reboot the device - if you hold it for more than 10 seconds, this function has migrated here from laptops, where it has been a standard for many years.
A few words about the electronic filling of the printer.
The powerful NXP ARM Cortex-A9 Quad 1 GHz working processor provides comfortable work and uninterrupted printing process. All the main electronic components are housed in the front top bezel with decorative carbon-look finish. Practical and looks nice. There are no "extra" wires. All necessary wiring is tucked away in cable channels or fireproof silicone bundles.
The large 7-inch touchscreen display has been a hallmark of Raise3D 3D printers since the first N series printers. This solution set the bar for all 3D printer manufacturers in the world, but still the functionality and visualization of the Raise3D display provides an incredibly comfortable working environment. The touchscreen of the monitor is moderately responsive - it does not “stupid” and does not work from accidental touches. The control system has a built-in non-volatile memory that will allow you to continue printing in the event of a power outage. As before, the system is controlled by a Linux-based operating system and works very stably.
Good calibration is essential to the successful use of this system, and Raise3D has gone to great lengths to make this process as clear as possible, especially for users new to 3D printing.
For precise nozzle matching, there is a special calibration system with a very simple and accessible video instruction on the printer monitor. The functionality unique for 3D equipment was first implemented by Raise3D, and, probably, soon this, like many other innovations of the company, will become the standard in the segment of professional 3D printers.
Unfortunately, the disadvantage of this process is the long time required for the calibration procedure, which takes about 20 minutes, but it must be understood that all experienced users of 3D printers know that the key to successful printing is the correct calibration of both the printing platform itself and and in this case the nozzle mates.
Files for printing can be uploaded via Wi-Fi, through a standard RJ45 network connector located on the back of the case, which allows you to connect the printer to a local LAN network.
Or you can use the USB connectors located on the top panel above the display. Convenient - no need to search and impossible to forget.
USB connectors allow you to work with the printer offline. That is, by simply inserting a flash drive with a file prepared for printing into the slot and pressing the “Print” button on the display, you select the desired file and follow the prompts of the system.
By the way, there is no need to leave a “flash drive” in the slot, because after selecting a job, the necessary files are downloaded to the printer’s internal storage and stored there, including a video report on the results of the previous print.
The thread loading procedure is semi-automatic. The operator needs to select the thread loading operation on the control monitor. Then place the spool with filament in an insulated compartment, closed with a translucent lid, through which you can visually control the amount of remaining plastic. Then thread the thread through the fitting into the filament path until it stops against the gear wheel. And then follow the video prompts on the display. Everything is simple, fast and clear.
An intelligent system for multi-zone leveling of the working surface, coupled with a very informative and friendly video interface, allows you to quickly and with high quality build a profile of irregularities with an accuracy of hundredths of a millimeter. This allows the printer to ensure that the first layer is correctly and accurately formed, which in many ways ensures a successful print outcome. In terms of visualization, this solution is absolutely unique in the field of 3D printing and will certainly be picked up soon by other manufacturers, as the most understandable for users to understand.
It works like this. Having installed the flexible printing surface on the table, you need to start the process of calibrating the work surface by selecting the appropriate item on the large 7-inch printer display. Then you just have to follow the video instructions, read and follow the information prompts. Perhaps this is the friendliest interface that we have ever tested.
As a slicer, all Raise3D printers use the original slicer IdeaMaker , the functionality of which is very wide, it makes no sense to dwell on it in this review, but it is important to understand that today it is the most advanced tool for implementing the most complex tasks, and coupled with the RaiseCloud cloud service, it presents the user with a truly unique opportunities to prepare models for printing and control the entire printing process with the possibility of subsequent analysis of the results, read more about this in our reviews. In the photo below you can see an example of the E2 printer's remote print control.
And now some models that we printed on Raise3D E2…
These are fairly lightweight models printed with ESUN's ePA (nylon) plastic. But the lack of flat surfaces made printing difficult, but the printer managed it nonetheless.
Quite a complex 1:1 scale model of a Citroen front foglight, printed with ESUN ABS+ plastic with HIPS support, also produced by ESUN. We printed this very complex model with a lot of small elements to show the real capabilities of the E2 printer in dual extruder printing mode using a support material.
Other examples of dual-extruder printing: the well-known PLA plastic cube with a water-soluble PVA support and a poisonous tree frog printed with two colors of PLA plastic.
And this is a two-color vase print:
Printing with two Raise3D PLA 1.75 filaments (red and white). Layer 0.18 mm. Nozzle 225/225°C. Table 60°C. Speed 60 mm/s.
In duplication mode, we printed 2 glasses. Layer 0.08. Table 60°C Nozzles 225/225°C Speed 50 mm/s. Filament: Raise3D PLA 1.75 (red and white)
In operation, the printer is perhaps the friendliest of all that I had to get acquainted with and on which I had a chance to print. The developers have thought of everything to the smallest detail. The interface in Russian is mostly intuitive, but especially difficult moments are described in detail and supported by animated diagrams. Many important or frequent operations are accompanied by demonstration videos.
Based on our experience with the E2, we noted the high and stable print quality, the ease and convenience of its operation, its versatility and performance, qualities that are difficult to find simultaneously in other models of 3D printers. Without a doubt, designers and design engineers should pay special attention to Raise3D E2 as a tool for translating ideas. Its variability can provide competitive advantages and enhance the economic effect of the introduction of 3D printing. The printer is reliable, easy to operate and maintain, and produces consistent print results. The most informative and user-friendly control interface will allow even a beginner to quickly get comfortable and get to work. In addition, Raise3D Corporation has its own industrial "ecosystem" consisting of a slicer, a cloud service for data storage, operation and control of equipment, technical support and its own line of consumables, including profiles for them, as well as big plans for the future.
From a productivity point of view, prototyping speed is something to take into account if you need to determine which of the two materials is the most suitable for a particular technical and design task. You charge two different materials and in one "pass" you get two samples for testing and testing from one stl file. As a result, you gain time to create the final prototype, and in 3D printing, time, as in business in general, is money.
12 common 3D printing mistakes from easy to hard. How to avoid them?
1. Underestimation of the importance of the first layer. 2. Don't ask the 3D printing communities for help. 3. Random entanglement of the filament. 4. Fast assembly of your 3D printer. 5. Incorrect table and nozzle height calibration. 6. Using the wrong slicer settings. 7. Using a high % infill to reinforce details instead of walls/shells. 8. Don't use support when needed. 9. Never replace worn parts. 10. Lack of 3D printing monitoring. 11. Neglect of safety rules in 3D printing. 12. Buying a bad 3D printer out of over-enthusiasm. Conclusion.
There is nothing worse than 3D printing for days, weeks, months and years only to find out that you are making common mistakes.
We're sure many of you are familiar with that feeling, which is why we've written this post to get you back on the road to success by outlining some common mistakes to avoid on your 3D printing journey.
Here you will find both small errors that you did not pay attention to before, as well as serious errors that can lead to a complete cessation of 3D printing.
Join our research to identify the most common 3D printing mistakes, as well as simple solutions to fix them quickly.
1. Underestimation of the importance of the first layer.
Too often 3D printing fails in the middle of the process due to poor adhesion of the first layer.
Definitely keep this important factor in mind if you want a successful print.
This is a mistake that is made too often, and it causes people to chase ghosts, trying to figure out what the problem is.
All this time, the reason was the bad first layers, which did not have a strong enough connection with the working platform.
Although your first layer is held at the start of printing, adhesion decreases as the print head moves. It is likely that your print may shift or fall off after a few hours if the first layer was not well extruded.
- Make a few test prints ahead of time and see how well the material adheres.
- Use an adhesive such as 3D Printer Varnish or at least a glue stick.
- Increase the flow rate (extrusion multiplier) for the first layer so that the material has a better chance of sticking to the printer bed.
2. Do not seek help from the 3D printing communities.
Every user of a 3D printer has encountered a problem that required some effort to fix. Some people took on entire projects just to solve a 3D printer problem, when the solution was easy to find.
3D printing communities are known for helping people solve their problems, so be sure to check out these free resources. From 3D printing forums to Facebook groups and YouTube surveys of other 3D printer users, the options are endless.
When we first started exploring 3D printing, we noticed that many people mention how helpful other 3D printer users are, so we immediately registered on all kinds of Russian and English resources, Facebook and Reddit communities and joined this space .
In most cases, people will offer the right solution and will be happy to help you try various troubleshooting options.
Not only can they help you with troubleshooting, but they can point you to some fun projects to try, as well as some of the latest innovations in the world of 3D printing.
- Join active Facebook groups on 3D printing and your specific 3D printer.
- Subscribe to news feeds of authoritative 3D printing resources.
- Be sure to check out YouTube 3D printing bloggers who post new and interesting content on a regular basis.
- Find groups in Viber and Telegram. This is the fastest way to get an answer to your question.
3. Random entanglement of the filament.
We have read many reviews about 3D printer materials including PLA, ABS, PETG, etc. and some of the negative reviews mention tangled filament.
Unfortunately, in most cases, the thread becomes tangled due to the fault of users.
As a general rule, when the thread is wound onto the spool, there is very little chance of tangling, much more often after you take the spool out of the package.
If you loosen the windings in the winding and then wind the deflated windings back on the spool, you could accidentally wind them unevenly and create an overlap that will ruin your prints.
When storing the filament, make sure that the end is securely fastened and cannot be easily loosened.
If there are already tangles on the spool, unwind enough thread and wind it tightly again so that it does not cross over.
If you are still unlucky, and you have purchased plastic of inadequate quality, during the production of which all technological cards were violated, then here is our advice: buy plastic for a 3D printer from trusted brands. The $100 price difference is infinitesimal compared to all sorts of other 3D printing costs.
However, this 100 UAH will save you not only from problems with overlaps, but also provide a stable diameter and color along the entire length, the absence of ovalities and smooth feeding.
4. Quickly assemble your 3D printer.
We were all very excited when we got our first 3D printer and it came to assembling it, but being overly excited can cause your 3D printer to build too quickly, resulting in poor print results.
This may not be immediately noticeable and you will get good quality prints within a few months.
What can happen gradually is wear due to incorrect assembly.
Ask yourself these questions before starting your first print.
Was your belt tight? Did you properly and securely fasten each wire? Is the Bowden tube installed correctly?
When it comes to a 3D printer, every little detail counts, so don't fall prey to 3D printing problems because of a quick and careless build.
Find an authoritative YouTube video tutorial from an experienced 3D printer operator and follow assembly.
There are always a few little tricks they advise you to do for durability and high quality prints.
Even if you have already built your 3D printer, you can fix some things you may have missed.
The correct and high-quality assembly of a 3D printer actually leads to higher quality prints.
See also: How to set up your new 3D printer.
5. Incorrect table and nozzle height calibration.
Of all the layers in your 3D print, the first layer is the most important and it depends a lot on how well you leveled your platform and set your nozzle height.
It's not as easy as uploading a 3D model, sending it to an SD card and starting printing.
The software side of things is important, but the hardware side is just as important.
Many 3D printers come with manual platform calibration, so you have to raise or lower each corner yourself.
Your 3D printer doesn't have a perfect feedback system, which means it can't always check where the print head is.
The best he can do is use the X, Y and Z limit switches to make sure the printhead is 0.00mm in each axis.
What your 3D printer is very good at is extremely precise movements in the X, Y and Z axes, but if the nozzle height is not set properly at the beginning, everything falls apart.
The Z axis is height, so the nozzle must be properly adjusted so that it smoothly extrudes the filament along the surface of the build, neither too high nor too low.
- Learn how to manually calibrate the table.
- Once your table is properly calibrated and the nozzle height adjusted, you can expect good prints.
- It might be a good idea for you to invest in an auto leveling system like BLTouch. We at our 3D printing studio in Odessa prefer manual calibration.
6. Using incorrect slicer settings.
The slicer settings you use to print are some of the most important things when it comes to successful 3D printing.
Of the hundreds of setting changes you can make, one wrong setting is enough to ruin your print.
Fortunately, there are printer profiles and default settings that give people a basic starting point for printing.
After a few prints, you will start experimenting with different settings such as temperature, line width, flow rate, and so on.
Some of the misapplied misconfigurations are related to changing materials.
Whether PLA or ABS or PLA of different brands and/or colors, temperature recommendations will vary.
Make sure you set them correctly.
Slicer settings can either help you or break your 3D printing, so use them wisely, preferably with some kind of guide.
In most cases, when you load a model from Thingiverse, for example, designers create a list of settings that generally work well, but don't blindly follow them and be careful.
For example, if you replaced a brass nozzle with a hardened steel nozzle, you would need to slightly increase the nozzle temperature because hardened steel does not conduct heat as well as brass.
Another example is your work surface.
If you have added a glass substrate to your 3D printer, you should increase the table temperature to allow for the extra layer of heat transfer material.
- Use calibration models such as speed and temperature towers for each new material.
- Spend a little more time looking at the slicer options to make sure you know what changing a setting will do.
- Repetition is the mother of learning. The more often you type, the faster you will become a pro.
Read also: The best models for 3D printing testing.
7. Using high % infill to reinforce details instead of walls/shells.
For years, most people have tried to reinforce their 3D printed parts with infill. This method definitely does the job, but there is a much more efficient method that has been proven to work much better.
Instead of wasting a lot of material and extra time printing the infill, you should use shells/walls to make the 3D printed part stronger.
In some cases, increasing the percentage of filling does not provide the necessary margin of safety, while increasing the wall thickness makes it possible to produce truly reliable and impact-resistant products.
- Instead of adding more infill, add more shells/walls to your prints to make them stronger.
- For a functional 3D printed part requiring strength, about 4-6 walls are recommended.
8. Do not use supports when necessary.
Most people try to avoid the use of auxiliary supports to save time and material, but there are times when their use is necessary.
You can try tilting the prints in a certain way and moving them around the print bed, but sooner or later there will come a point when this approach doesn't work.
Many models are specially designed not to use support for successful printing, which is very convenient.
On the other hand, some designs are too complex to print without support.
3D printers cannot print in the air and large ridges definitely need support structures to extrude the material onto.
Most often you can do without supports on 45° or lower overhangs, but for anything higher it is recommended to use supports.
This is more of a visual skill that, with time and experience, allows you to understand when models need supports and when you can do without them.
Some slicers may not show support in preview, so you'll have to judge for yourself.
- Make sure you don't avoid supports when they are needed, because in this case you will just lose overall.
- Use proper part orientation to ensure your prints use as little backing material as possible.
9. Never replace worn parts.
Although the profile, power supply and stepper motors of your 3D printer are designed to last for several years, other parts are consumables.
These are parts such as belts, nozzles and bearings. Make sure you replace these parts as they wear out.
You may notice a decrease in print quality over time, and wear and tear on certain parts can definitely be the cause, so check these consumables and replace them as needed.
If you are printing with materials such as ABS, PA12, PC or glow-in-the-dark plastics, the brass nozzles wear out much faster than when printing with traditional materials.
Switching to a hardened steel nozzle is a good idea if you want to print with abrasive materials.
The disadvantage is that it does not have the same level of thermal conductivity as brass nozzles.
Here is a short list of 3D printer parts that wear out over time:
- Thermal barrier;
- PTFE tube;
- Glass platforms;
- Heating block;
You can buy accessories for 3D printers in the corresponding section of our catalog.
- Be aware that some parts will not last forever, so check these parts from time to time and replace them as needed.
- Make sure these components are installed to reduce wear.
- Keep a set of replacement parts on hand in case they fail (nozzles, belts, wiring, PTFE tubing).
- Purchase high quality parts designed for long life.
10. No 3D printing monitoring.
Whether you have a premium or budget 3D printer, any of them can fail. They can fail within the first few minutes when the first layer is not printing well, or a few hours after printing starts.
In our practice, there have been a few cases when checking our printers after a night shift, we found a mess on the work surface and the printer continued to extrude spaghetti plastic.
Monitoring is not a panacea for all problems, but with its help you can stop the process in time and avoid waste of plastic and electricity.
It is recommended to constantly monitor your 3D printers throughout the printing process to make sure everything is in order.
What we make sure to do is monitor the first coat and then come back 15 minutes later to make sure everything is going according to plan.
After that, checking the printers every hour or so is a good idea to control your prints.
- Check the 3D print from time to time to make sure everything goes smoothly.
- Use the camera for remote fingerprint verification with remote power control.
- Be sure to teach others how to stop your 3D printer if necessary.
11. Neglect of safety regulations in 3D printing.
Basic precautions are based on burn and fire hazards, mechanical hazards, and injury from tools or melted plastic.
The risk of fire is very rare these days because 3D printers are usually equipped with overheating protection.
Pay attention to burns from hot nozzle or print bed.
We've also heard stories of injuries from the sharp edges of the printer's scraper.
This can be easily avoided if you are careful in your actions.
Removing supports is not the most pleasant and interesting thing to do, but getting cuts or scratches when cleaning parts is even worse.
It is recommended to check the wiring, bolts, belts and all moving parts from time to time so that a potential malfunction can be detected in the future.
Connectors can sometimes fail, so be sure to check these aspects to ensure the 3D printing process runs smoothly and safely.
- Be aware of your surroundings and be safe.
- Do not put your hand too close to the nozzle.
- Do not keep your hand on the platen when taking the print.
- Provide good ventilation.
12. Buying a bad 3D printer out of over-enthusiasm.
We are regularly contacted by clients who, on a wave of enthusiasm, bought a cheap 3D printer on Aliexpress or another market place, and this printer does not work.
Spontaneous cheap purchases do not give you time to analyze and compare 3D printer models. In other words, you are making your choice unconsciously.
People have experienced a number of problems, such as the SD card slot not working along with serious difficulties in transferring files over Wi-Fi.
Other options included poorly insulated wires, crooked frames and platforms.
Deformed threaded screws, cheap hot ends, broken parts, poor shipping packaging, poor assembly at the factory are also common when buying cheap "NoName" printers.
You may end up spending most of your time repairing, fixing poor print quality issues, and just getting frustrated with 3D printing.
If you've been one of those unlucky ones, you've probably learned to take your time buying a 3D printer.
One of the most popular manufacturers of inexpensive 3D printers around the world is Creality, and their top product Ender-3 v2.
This 3D printer has been tested many times by users around the world, and its popularity proves to be the perfect combination of price and quality.
Every 3D company is a team that buys parts and builds a printer, but some do it much better than others and more consistently.
Some people who buy a bad printer either give up 3D printing, do a complete costly rebuild, or buy a better 3D printer much later. You might as well start by buying a good 3D printer!