3D printers might be one of the best inventions of the modern world that can create an exact 3 dimensional replica of objects. 3D printing technology is widely used in various industries such as automobile industry and aerospace organizations to create parts at a cheap rate and save billions of dollars. 3D printers can create 3 dimensional replica of almost everything and can be used for making medical equipments, smartphone cases, fashion accessories, toys, etc. 3D printers are specially useful for designers, engineers, architects and students who can use it to create a model or prototype of new products or structures. While the world of 3D printing is extremely interesting and fascinating, with a wide range of 3D printers available in the market it is important to choose one that suits your requirements.
Things to Look For while Choosing a 3D Printer
Types of 3D printers – There are two main types of consumer 3D printers – Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) and Selective Laser Sintering (SLS). FDM is an elaborate process in which a model is created by heating and extruding plastic that are put together layer after layer. This is one of the most widely available types of 3D printer. SLS is much more expensive compared to FDM and it makes use of lasers that melts the powders and creates layers of the printed material. SLS technology can be used to print even metal objects.
Material used for printing – Two common materials that are used for 3D printing are Poly Lactic Acid (PLA) and Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS).These are thermoplastic materials that turn soft and malleable when they are heated or cooled. They are available as spools of filament. PLA material is made from corn starch, so they are biodegradable and environment friendly. They cool down quickly and prevent model warping. But they have a low melting point so the models may deform under high heart. On the other hand ABS material has high flexibility and strength which makes it easier to work with. It has a high melting point but it takes longer to cool compared to PLA. It also emits fumes during printing.
Multiple Color Printing – While most 3D prints are dual extruder models, some 3D printers come with multiple extruders that can print objects in more than two colors. In case of dual-extruder models, each extruder is fed a different colored filament, so the printer prints multicoloured objects in layers so that the colors bind together like separate pieces.
Print Resolution and Speed – In order to create high quality 3D models you need to use a high resolution 3D printer which captures and replicated even the finest of details of the original product. Resolution is measured in microns and 1 micron measures 0.001mm. Lower the number; the higher the resolution of the printer and vice versa. Printing speed measures how fast a printer can move its extruder and print an abject.
Software for 3D printing – Most 3D printers come with a software disk or it can be downloaded from the internet. The printers are compatible to Windows, Mac and Linux operating system.
Getting a 3D Model – When it comes to selecting a 3D model that you want to print there are two potions – creating your own model or downloading a pre-made model from the internet. There are a number of softwares that allow you to design your own 3D model, but it is a time taking process. There are various websites that provide ready-made 3d models for different items.
STL Files – A STL (Stereo Lithography) file is a specific file format that allows the user to print the 3D model as a physical 3 dimensional object. This file contains the details and information that is required to create a 3D model. The model is broken down into small triangles and the X, Y and Z coordinate of these triangles are used by the printer to create the print. An STL file can be created using any CAD program.
Slicing Software – Once the STL file is ready, the next step is to put it through a specific software called the slicing software. This software instructs the printer on how to print the model – number of layers required, starting position of the printer, etc. In some cases, the slicing software comes with the printer.
Connecting the Printer – Most 3D printers can take commands from a computer through a USB connection. Some 3D printers also have their own internal memory, so they can continue printing even if the computer is shut down. A few high end 3D printers have wireless connectivity through WiFi or direct peer-to-peer link. Many printers also come with SD card slots, so the user can load and print a 3D object using the printer’s own controls.
Safety – When it comes to 3D printers, there is a concern of safety because they emit heat and fumes in the printing process. Printing involves working with heated plastic which can cause serious burns. So it is important be extremely careful and work with caution. You can use a closed frame printer with lids and hoods instead of an open frame model if you have kids and pets in the house. 3D printers also emit fumes (particularly when using ABS plastic) while printing so it is best to use the printer in a well-ventilated room.
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Best 3D Printers in India
This is by far the best 3D printer for beginners and perfectly suitable for classrooms and home. It has a number of useful features. It is an open frame printer with a sturdy look and feel. It features a single extruder which accepts only 1.75 mm PLA filament. It has WiFi connectivity which allows the user to manage the printer through the local network. This printer makes use of FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication) technology and has layer resolution of 100~500 microns. The printer runs of FlashPrint software and supports STL and OBJ files. It is compatible with Windows 7, 8, vista and Mac operating system. Connectivity option includes WiFi, USB stick and cable. The FlashPrint software allows the user to prepare an STL file for printing any object. This software helps to user to view the design from all angles and distances. The user can set the resolution of the print along with temperature, speed and infill. It has a quite operation and is much faster than other printers.
- Good print quality
- Quite operation
- Wireless connectivity option – WiFi
- USB thumb drive
- Good value for money
- Objects tend to come off the printing platform at times
- Poor documentation
- Only accepts poly lactic acid filament (PLA) material
This is an entry level, semi-assembled 3D printer that can be used to create simple 3D models. It has a simple USB cable setup and easy connectivity. It can be connected to your laptop or computer to print any object. The printer is compatible with Windows and Mac operating system. It makes use of Poly Lactic Acid (PLA) filament spools, but it is also compatible with Acrylonitrile-Butadiene Styrene (ABS) material. It has a single Gregs extruder. It has a 200X200 heating bed with a power distribution board for uniform and quick heating and fast printing. The printer runs on a simple user interface software – open source Marlin firmware, so the user can easily change the resolution and speed of printing.
- Great entry level 3D printer
- Simple user interface software
- Easy to assemble and run
- Great print quality
- Almost silent operation
- Great value for money
- Excellent customer support
- Not suitable for complicated prints
The Prusa i3 is the latest 3D printer designed by RepRap Core Developer Prusajr. It is an advanced open source printer that can print different forms and sizes. It is a kit-based printer that has to be assembled from the scratch; however, the end result is worth the effort. This printer makes use of a single extruder and enables only 1.75mm filament. Standard printing materials such as ABS (Acrylonitrile-Butadiene Styrene) and PLA (Poly Lactic Acid) are compatible with this printer. It can also print with other materials such as nylon. The efficient Mk42 heated bed heats up fast and evenly and prevents any cold patches. You can either use an USB cable to connect the printer to your computer or insert an SD card inside the control panel to transfer the files that you intend to print. It is a cost-effective, no-nonsense printer with impressive printing quality.
- Great documentation
- Good quality prints
- Fully open-source printer
- Easy maintenance
- Kit-based printer
- Takes time to set up
- Not as fast as other printers
This is a closed frame ready to use 3D printer suitable for schools and homes. This printer has a robust build size of 7.8 x 7.8 x 7.8 inch which is almost 69% bigger than other competing 3D printers. It has a resolution of 100 to 400 microns which ensures high quality 3D models with perfect precision. It is a plug-and-play printer that is extremely easy to install and use. Even the filament cartridges can be changed and refilled within a fraction of seconds. The fully-enclosed design of the printer protects the user from high temperatures of the heating bed and reduces the risk of burns. The printer comes with wireless WiFi connectivity, so the users can send 3D files from their Windows or Mac computers directly using the local area network without any cables or lines. The extruder is compatible with biodegradable PLA material. The printer has an auto-calibration system that automatically sets the extruder at the best position to provide best quality prints. The printer is extremely easy to clean and maintain.
- Closed frame printer
- Simple and easy interface software
- Wireless WiFi connectivity
- Great quality print
- Low noise printing
- Prints using only PLA material
- No heated print bed
This is one of the most affordable 3D printers available in the market that works as good as any high end printer with proper calibration and upgradation. It is available in the form of a kit and has to be assembled before use. It is an open frame printer with a single extruder and a generous 220 x 220 x 250mm build volume. It makes use of Fused Filament Fabrication technology and is compatible with PLA (Poly Lactic Acid), ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) and other plastics. The printer can work independently and also controlled through a PC or laptop via USB. The printer is compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux operating system.
- Affordable price
- Amazing print quality
- Can be calibrated and upgraded
- Compatible with PLA, ABS and other plastic materials
- Available in the form of kit
- Take time to assemble
- Acrylic frames
- User experience and navigation is difficult to understand
- Bit noisy compared to other 3D printers
Available on Amazon.in
This brings us to the end of our list of best 3D printers in India and Flashforge Finder 3D Printer is our top pick because it is a good quality printer for beginners from a reputed brand that has good print quality with great precision, is easy to use and has a number of beneficial features such as WiFi connectivity, USB connection, SD card slot, etc.