Related to what you want to print is a more basic question: why do you want to print the 3D version?Are you a consumer interested in printing toys and/or household items?A trendsetter who likes to show his friends the latest electronic products?An educator wants to install a 3D printer in a classroom, library, or community center? Hobbyists or amateurs who like to try out new projects and technologies?A designer, engineer, or architect who needs to create a prototype or model of a new product, part, or structure?An artist trying to explore the creative potential of making 3D objects?Or is the manufacturer looking to print plastic in a relatively short amount of time?
Your best 3D printer depends on how you plan to use it.Consumers and schools will want a model that is easy to build and use, doesn't require much maintenance, and has a decent print quality. Hobbyists and artists may want special features, such as the ability to print objects with more than one color, or to use multiple filament types. Designers and other professionals will want outstanding print quality. Shops involved in short-term manufacturing will need a large build area to print multiple objects simultaneously.Individuals or businesses who want to show their friends or customers the wonders of 3D printing will want a beautiful and reliable machine.
Focus on 3D printers targeted at consumers, hobbyists, schools, product designers, and other professionals, such as engineers and architects. The vast majority of printers in this range build 3D objects out of successive layers of molten plastic, a technique known as fused filament fabrication (FFF). It is also frequently called Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), although that term is trademarked by Stratasys, Inc. A few use stereolithography—the first 3D printing technique to be developed—in which ultraviolet (UV) lasers trace a pattern on a photosensitive liquid resin, hardening the resin to form the object.
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