There's no doubt, 3D printing is one of the ground-breaking technologies over the past years which did a huge impact on manufacturing. But now, with the availability of compact and portable 3D printers in the market, the possibilities for enthusiasts and professionals became endless. With the right product, software, and materials, everyone can make their models a reality at the touch of a button.
At its onset, 3D printers were costly but as the interest with it expanded, the price gradually declined. This made it easier for everyone to obtain a good model without breaking the bank. In this article, we will provide answers to some of the burning questions about these devices with a buying guide and our recommended products available in the Philippine market today.
Before we proceed to the topic at hand, let's get to know the basics of 3D printing and some useful data that it entails. 3D printing, or as commonly referred to as additive manufacturing, is known to be the creation of a three-dimensional object from a computer-assisted drawing (CAD) model or a digital 3D model.
In 3D printing, the term "printing" pertains to the processes wherein material is deposited, combined, or solidified, as controlled by a computer, to construct a three-dimensional object. The chosen printing material is added layer by layer to achieve the shape and size of the target object.
This method provides an advantage in manufacturing to produce complicated forms or intricate geometries that are impossible to obtain by human hands. There are differences among 3D printing processes, which are attributed to the way layers are added to create parts and the material used during the 3D construction.
Commonly, there are three types of popular 3D printing methods -- Stereolithography (SLA), Selective laser sintering (SLS), and Fused deposition modeling (FDM). We will be going into the differences between each 3D printing type in our buying guide below.
After learning about the awesome things a 3D printer can build, you've finally decided you should have one. But there are a few points that you should know first before your foray into the world of 3D printing. Here's a quick guide to help you narrow down your search.
Each 3D printer type has its own merits but we will focus on the most plausible ones that are easy to get your hands on.
This additive process uses a thermoplastic material which is heated to its melting point and extruded through a nozzle into a print plate underneath. Layer by layer, the printout is built throughout the duration, eventually forming the finished product.
This 3D printing is cost-effective, could produce replacement parts quickly, and highly customizable via computer software. The material is also readily available with different colors to choose from. Although it's easy to use, it may be prone to high maintenance if misused and the machine has gone awry.
SLA printing may be the original technology in 3D printing where it employs an additive method with a stereolithography apparatus to transform a liquid medium into a solid object.
The process involves an ultraviolet light beam that hardens the model made of photosensitive liquid such as resin. It guarantees high-quality detailed prints that deliver a better consumer experience.
Similar to SLA, SLS 3D printing uses the same process, but it uses powder and lasers to create the model. The laser melts the powder to create a layer of printed material making the output precise and more detailed. This method makes it possible to produce metal objects which are not possible on FDM and SLA printing.
3D printers use a wide variety of materials which is highly dependent on the type of printer that you want to purchase. Below are some examples of the materials that you may want to consider if you have a filament, powder or a resin printer.
PLA is a plant-derived plastic used on filament printer that works best for most indoor usage. Prolonged or constant exposure to sun and moisture will easily deteriorate the material, so it is best not to use this material for outdoor applications.
PETG is a food-safe filament plastic material that could work as a food vessel or container. Being food-safe doesn't mean that the printed output is completely safe. It has to be finished first with a food-grade epoxy before making contact with actual food.
ABS is notably known to be a strong plastic that is commonly used in different residential and commercial applications. It might require a lot of heat to set and should only be used on enclosed 3D printers to maintain the warm temperature. This filament material is a great option when printing outdoor items.
Resins used on SLA or Digital Light Processing (DLP) printers usually come in clear, white, or gray colors. Standard resins may not be as sturdy as tough resin, but it is commonly used for prototypes or small gadgets to represent the final product.
Tough resins are more physically hard once set and are a better material often used in professional and engineering applications. A medical-grade resin, on the other hand, is used on several pieces of equipment for the medical field -- to make hearing aids or custom dental works.
All 3D printing tasks start with a computer-assisted drawing (CAD) model, and it could be intimidating to the uninitiated user. For those who aren't CAD savvy, there are pre-made model blueprints downloadable from the internet, which could easily be loaded into the printer's software. But nothing beats your own creations coming to reality.
The standard file form used to print 3D models is the STL file or STereoLithography. It can be generated by any CAD program you used to create the model drawing, just save it in STL file form. The drawing is being broken down into a series of portions and a list of the XYZ coordinates. The printer uses this data to produce the physical object by layer.
Once you have the STL file, it is now loaded into the slicing software. It creates another file, which is a gcode, the most common file type for 3D printers. This will serve as the blueprint for a 3D printer on how to print the object.
3D printers often come with the manufacturer's proprietary slicing software to ensure that everything works as intended. This eliminates incompatibility and software issues. Remember to aim for a slicing software that is user-friendly, intuitive, and has customizable features. But for advanced users, there are free and open-source programs available online, such as Cura or Slic3r.
Additional features are great to have but there are must-haves when it comes to choosing the best 3D printer.
Safety features such as automatic nozzle cooling once printing is finished, the heated bed should auto shutdown after every printing job, or the nozzle automatically retracts whenever a task is either complete or paused. These will ensure that no excessive filament will ruin the output or the printer won't continuously remain heated even when not turned off.
Keep in mind that a 3D printer uses high temperatures to melt the materials for printing, so it's necessary to be extra cautious around the hot electrical equipment.
This feature will guarantee that your current print batch will not go to waste even if some unexpected interruption occurs, like a power outage or some glitches on your machine. Starting over is the worst that can happen while the print is halfway finished.
A touchscreen UI is the most convenient way of operating a 3D printer, even low-end FDM printers have this feature. Rotary knobs are a thing of the past and you should future-proof your equipment right from its purchase.
This ensures that your finished product has a solid and well-formed foundation. The first few layers of the print are the crucial points where the whole final product will rely on for support, so creating a steady base provides a stable output. It also provides more room for experimentation with different temperature levels to achieve variable results.
Calibrating a 3D printer involves loosening or tightening the tension on the main axes. Having a printer with full accessibility to those axes and belt will save you time and effort. It won't require too much work on removing components to make adjustments while fine-tuning the device from time to time.
Ender 3 3D Printer
Creator Pro 2 IDEX
Lisa SLS 3D Printer
The Best 3D Printer for Beginners
A 3D Printer Designed for Learning
Two Extruders for the Price of One
The First-Rate Choice for 3D Professionals
The Industrial-Grade Printer for Stronger Prototypes
|Price Starts at||₱16,999.75||₱76,386||₱44,950||₱225,000||₱595,000|
|Modeling Technology||FDM（Fused Deposition Modeling）||FDM （Fused Deposition Modeling）||FDM （Fused Deposition Modeling）||FFF （Fused Filament Fabrication）||SLS （Selective Laser Sintering）|
|Printing Material||1.75mm PLA, TPU, ABS||1.75mm PLA||1.75mm Consumer materials (PLA, ABS, PETG, Flexibles)||2.85mm PLA, PVA, ABS, CPE, CPE+, Nylon, PC, PP and more||PA12 powder, TPU powder|
|File Format||STL,OBJ,G-code||STL, OBJ, DAE, AMF||STL, OBJ, AMF||STL, OBJ, 3MF||STL|
The products we introduce below were carefully curated by the mybest team, from the best-sellers of E-commerce sites like Lazada, and using the points mentioned in our detailed and thoroughly researched buying guide.
**Prices may vary depending on the website and their campaign period**
|Modeling Technology||FDM（Fused Deposition Modeling）|
|Printing Material||1.75mm PLA, TPU, ABS|
|Modeling Technology||FDM （Fused Deposition Modeling）|
|Printing Material||1.75mm PLA|
|File Format||STL, OBJ, DAE, AMF|
|Modeling Technology||FDM （Fused Deposition Modeling）|
|Printing Material||1.75mm Consumer materials (PLA, ABS, PETG, Flexibles)|
|File Format||STL, OBJ, AMF|
|Modeling Technology||FFF （Fused Filament Fabrication）|
|Printing Material||2.85mm PLA, PVA, ABS, CPE, CPE+, Nylon, PC, PP and more|
|File Format||STL, OBJ, 3MF|
|Modeling Technology||SLS （Selective Laser Sintering）|
|Printing Material||PA12 powder, TPU powder|
As the concept of paperless transactions slowly takes over, most businesses and enterprising individuals still rely on the age-old ink-and-paper documentation. Below are our top articles on how to get the latest and innovative printers in the market today.
The growth of the 3D printing industry, in the last decade, provided the spark for innovators and researchers in different manufacturing industries to come up with better designs and products. There's no doubt that it widened the horizon of possibilities and created a steady flow of new ideas to make our lives better every day.
Are you willing to take part in this industrial revolution? Make your move now.
Author: Chafi Lacson
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